For information regarding the current City of Scottsdale Desert Discovery Center Project, including information on upcoming public meetings, please visit: (search Desert Discovery Center).

The proposed Desert Discovery Center (DDC) at the Gateway to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve is envisioned to provide opportunities for residents and visitors to discover the story of the Upper Sonoran Desert. Through exhibits and environmental experiences presented in a natural setting, the center will inspire learning about the desert through programs designed to encourage preservation and instill a sense of harmony with and respect for the desert environment in which we live.

UPDATE: On January 11, 2016, the Scottsdale City Council took action to proceed with additional study and evaluation of the Desert Discovery Center concept at the Gateway Trailhead. The Council awarded a contract with Desert Discovery Center Scottsdale Inc. (DDCS) to proceed with planning for a possible future DDC facility. They will be working to determine what the Desert Discovery Center could look like, how it will operate, what the proposed facility would cost and conduct public outreach.  This work will be funded with Tourism and Bed Tax funds. A Municipal Use Master Site Plan process was initiated January 11, to amend the current site plan for a Desert Discovery Center element at the Gateway Trailhead. Visit for more.

The following information regarding past studies is referenced as background information. The current project is producing an updated concept design that will likely be different based upon input from the experience designer, consultants, partners and community.

Phase I

Planning was completed by ConsultEcon, Inc. and Exhibit Design Associates, who were hired to develop concepts for the DDC through a public involvement process.

View the Phase I Report (pdf/16mb/205pp)

Phase II

Planning focused on refining concepts, conducting a statistically significant market survey to determine the character and content of the DDC preferred by residents, visitors and business interests, identifying preliminary building configuration and design opportunities, and preparing a preliminary business plan.

On November 9, 2010 the City Council approved the Desert Discovery Center Feasibility Study Phase II report dated September 1, 2010 by Swaback Partners pllc.

City Council Presentation (pdf/12.1mb/41pp)
Full DDC Feasibility Study (pdf/27.4mb/585pp)

The full report is large – individual Sections can be downloaded below:

Executive Summary and Process (pdf/520kb/13pp)
Concept Development (pdf/5.7mb/60pp)
Interpretive Exhibits (pdf/238kb/28pp)
Business Plan (pdf/7.6mb/310pp)
Probable Cost (pdf/322kb/16pp)
Appendix (pdf/14.7mb/158pp)

Phase III

This phase of feasibility study assessed private funding capacity and interest, evaluated public funding options, and recommended a business, operating and management model for the DDC.

The City Council appointed the 5-member DDC Phase III Committee which held a series of public meetings to develop its recommendations. The Committee met 17 times between May 2011 and February 2012. To access meeting minutes and agendas, please click here.

As a result of this extensive review and analysis the DDC Phase III Feasibility Committee produced and approved Recommendations and a Work Program for moving the DDC project forward. On April 3, 2012 the City Council adopted Resolution No. 8998 approving these Recommendations and Work Program for the DDC project.