Q: What should students bring on a field trip?
A: Pack a water bottle, a hat, walking shoes, and be dressed appropriately for the weather. If you are staying overnight with us there is a complete list of what to bring.
Q: Will I be able to walk around with my class on our own prior to or at the conclusion of our programs?
A: Yes. This is something you will need to discuss at the time of reservation. We can set aside time before or after your scheduled programs.
Q: Where does our class go when we arrive?
A: Your school guide will meet you in the bus zone. If you are arriving by car, your school guide will meet you at the flagpoles adjacent to the parking lot. From there you will enter the building and proceed to the multi-purpose room where your rangers will meet you and explain the events of the day and go over the rules.
Q: Where do we eat?
A: Most groups eat meals in our multi-purpose room which serves as a meeting area and dining hall. Other groups prefer to take advantage of the scenery and eat outside in the amphitheater or patio. We ask that you do not bring glass containers, try to keep food tidbits from falling to the ground and attracting critters, and be sure to pick up any trash.
Q: Where can we store cold food or drinks?
A: Many groups bring in large coolers and ice chests for this purpose. However, if requested, we do have a refrigerator available to keep food and drinks cold, and ice for your ice chests.
Q: Can we cook our food there?
A: A propane grill is available free of charge, and you must bring your own grilling tools. Also a commercial kitchen is available if your group is large or you hire a caterer. You must prearrange and reserve the kitchen and at least one member of your group must hold a current food handlers card.
Q: How much do School Programs cost?
A: Fees start at $10 each per student, teacher and chaperone for full day and $25 for overnight. For a complete list of fees click here.
Q: Will any or all of the classes be outdoors?
A: It depends on the class you take. Some classes are held completely outdoors, while others might include a short activity outdoors. Other classes are held entirely indoors.
Q: What do the programs entail?
A: Programs are themed activities that provide highly interactive and hands-on experiences. Rangers lead students through a series of engaging activities, culminating in an experience designed to support the program theme. Students are divided into groups and develop a meaningful rapport with several rangers throughout the day. For a complete list of programs click here.
Q: Do the programs meet Arizona Academic Standards?
A: All classes comply with Arizona Academic Standards with subject emphasis including science, social studies, visual arts and physical activity.
Q: Who teaches classes?
A: All classes are taught by highly qualified full-time interpretive rangers who have been with Maricopa County Parks & Recreation Department for an extensive period. They are specialists in engaging people, especially children, in an assortment of cultural and natural history topics as well as fun and recreational endeavors.
Q: How long are the classes?
A: Our classes are approximately 45-50 minutes long.
Q: I have made arrangements for a “full day.” Does this mean I can get more than 5 classes if there’s time?
A: An interpretive ranger will assist developing your schedule, and advise on classes to match your school curriculum. Our experience has demonstrated that learning tapers off significantly after five of our classes. If buses are late we suggest a class hike or some outdoor activity to occupy fidgety students.
Q: What happens if the bus arrives late in dropping us off?
A: Unfortunately, buses do arrive late. We will adjust the class schedule to accommodate late arrivals, including the possibility of eliminating a class.
Q: What can we do if the buses are late in picking us up?
A: Sometimes groups must wait for pick up after their classes are finished. We do have a TV/DVD/VCR available for use, as well as some educational videos. Or you may choose to take your students on an exercise hike.
Q: Can individuals, such as parents or principals, come in during the day while the students are in classes?
A: Yes. However, we are a closed campus with a locked gate for your student’s safety. Individuals entering separate from the group should have the gate code from the lead teacher, and immediately check in at the office upon arrival.
Q: I teach students with special needs, can I sign them up for a program?
A: Yes, for groups of 10 or more students. Review the program descriptions and recommended grade levels to determine which tour would best meet the needs of your students then discuss your choices with our rangers. They are trained to adapt tours to meet the abilities and interests of the group. Please let us know when you make your reservation if you have students with special needs so we can better plan to accommodate them.
Q: What should I, as a teacher, bring?
A: You should be sure to bring your class roster and emergency contact lists for your students, any necessary student medications (such as inhalers, etc.), your payment or purchase order, your final attendance count, hat, water, sunscreen, sunglasses, and any other personal items you feel are necessary.
Q: What do we do to ‘check-in’ if we are an overnight group?
A: Our camp hosts and/or receptionist will direct you where to put your gear and food then walk you through the dorms and kitchen, going over rules and facility operations, and expectations for check-out.
Q: How many people can your facility accommodate?
A: The Desert Outdoor Center can accommodate overnight groups and table-settings for groups up to 150 people. Chair-only seating limit is 200 with standing space for an additional 30 people outside on the patio.
Q: Is bedding provided in the dormitories?
A: No. We have bunk beds with twin sized mattresses. You must bring your own bedding/sleeping bag and pillow.
Q: I understand that there is a gate at the entrance. How do I get in?
A: There is a gate at our entrance for security purposes since we are a reservation-only facility. A gate code will be provided to the coordinator of your event at reservation time.
Q: How long is the hiking trail?
A: Honeymoon Cove Trail is a 2-mile loop. The average hiker should allow about an hour to complete this trail.
Q: Are we allowed to go on a hike by ourselves?
A: You may go on a self-guided hike using instructive booklets available at the front office to make your hike more interesting and informative. All park rules and outdoor ethics must be enforced by adults leading the self-guided hike.
Q: Will we be able to go down to the lake?
A: Our loop trail does NOT go down to the lake, but there is a separate trail that accesses our pier in Honeymoon Cove that is available only for groups that are accompanied by Desert Outdoor Center Staff. Unauthorized access to the lake is strictly prohibited.
Q: What about dangerous animals?
A: Since the Desert Outdoor Center is located in a rural setting, wild animals are occasionally encountered. We stress that visitors keep their distance and not try to approach, feed, or handle any wild animal. If there is a potential hazard, see any ranger for assistance.
Q: Do you have a first-aid office?
A: We do not have a designated first-aid office, and there is not a nurse on staff. We have basic supplies available, and the Desert Outdoor Center staff has current first-aid and CPR training. If your group has individuals with special medical needs please bring a medical staff.
Q: Are there “real” restrooms or only outhouses?
A: We are a full-service, modern air-conditioned facility with indoor restrooms, and drinking fountains. Our dormitories also have showers.
Q: Is there seating in your outdoor amphitheater?
A: Yes, but it is on hard concrete terraces. For more comfortable seating we suggest you bring your own chairs or padding.
Q: Is there a gift shop?
A: Yes, we have a gift shop that offers a variety of souvenirs, beverages, snacks, and desert-themed items. You should arrange with a ranger to have gift shop time in your class schedule if your group is interested in shopping. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
Q: We have a small group of people. Can we still make a reservation?
A: Yes, but we have a 25 person minimum. If you have less than 25, your billing rate will still be at $25 per person cost.
Q: If I book my wedding or event at the Desert Outdoor Center is alcohol allowed?
A: Only beer, wine or malt beverages (like wine coolers) are permitted. They must be served by a designated bartender into plastic containers and in a designated area. Group serving alcohol must obtain a special-use permit, applications for which are available through our receptionist.
Q: Can our cook or caterer arrive early to set up and prepare food?
A: Yes, but arrangements must be made with our receptionist so we know when to expect that person. Your reservation time will also start at that time.
Q: Is smoking permitted?
A: There is no smoking permitted in any of our buildings. Outside, ash trays are available.
Q: What forms of payment do you accept?
A: We accept cash, credit cards, debit cards, purchase orders, and checks made out to the Desert Outdoor Center, or any combination of the above.
Q: How soon do I have to have the money in?
A: The reservation fee is due 30 days upon receipt of the invoice. The reservation fee is a separate fee that is nontransferable, nonrefundable, and does not apply toward your visit. The payment for your visit is due in 30 days from the date of your visit.