Free admission, actions, new options throughout Out of doors Journey Middle reopening, Oct. 1-2


After a month-long closure for annual maintenance, deep cleaning and the addition of new features, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit will reopen on October 1st. To celebrate the reopening, all guests can enjoy a weekend of free entry, special activities and a chance to see the improvements – Saturday, October 1, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, October 2, March 12 :00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Reopening weekend activities include:

Community open house and native plant sale

Saturday, October 1, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m

Learn about exciting program offerings in the community, gather resources to create a backyard habitat at home, purchase native plants from local nurseries, meet local partners working to improve access to nature and the enhancing natural habitat, and much more, right in front of the Outdoor Adventure Center.

Partner organizations include Plants for Ecology: Native Plants to Heal Our Planet, Detroit Butterfly Nursery, Blue Heron Headwaters Conservancy, Detroit Wildflower Nursery, Friends of Detroit Animal Care and Control, Orleans Landing, We Fixin To Fish, and The Xerces Society.

Guests will also have the opportunity to get up close and learn more about the live horses of the Detroit Mounted Police, Buffalo Soldiers Detroit, Detroit Horse Power and DNR Horse Trails Representative Jenny Cook.

Official opening of Milliken State Park Berm/Hill

Saturday, Oct. 1, 1 p.m

The highest elevation on the Detroit Riverwalk is in Milliken State Park. Due to erosion damage, the park began a restoration project on this hill, which has been slowed due to COVID-related issues. The beloved hill has just been reopened with safer and more accessible trails that will also help protect the soil from future erosion problems. Join us at 1pm as we ‘walk up the hill’ for a grand opening of this popular attraction. All attendees will receive complimentary cardboard binoculars and snacks.

“The plan to modernize the berm was intended as a great investment, not only to improve its appearance but also to make it accessible to all. In 2005 we decided to keep the mound created by excavating the state park’s wetland in order to preserve that as the highest point along the riverfront and the views and perspectives it offered. It has also become a great fitness facility for the thousands of hikers and runners who use the river trail regularly,” said Ron Olson, head of DNR Parks and Recreation Division.

At the top of the hill, guests can view the river and our neighbors in Canada through two new spotting scopes made available by Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge and EnChroma, offering enhanced color vision for color-blind visitors. (Read about similar spectators at other Michigan state parks.)

“EnChroma is pleased that the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge supports accessibility by enabling people with color vision impairments to more fully experience the beautiful colors of nature,” said Erik Ritchie, CEO of EnChroma. “Because there are 350 million color-blind people in the world and they only see 10% of the hues and shades, we hope more state and federal parks will be inspired to work with EnChroma to improve the experiences of this demographic.”

Detroit Riverfront Cleanup

Saturday, October 1, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m

Join the Outdoor Adventure Center staff in keeping the Detroit Riverfront area clean, beautiful, and safe for people and wildlife as we partner with the Great Lakes Educators of Aquatic and Marine Sciences and the Alliance for the Great Lakes regional shoreline and a Great Lakes beach work together to clean up efforts. Our efforts will focus on the Milliken State Park portion of the Detroit Riverwalk. Cleaning gear is provided, but please plan to bring your own water bottle. Attendees can purchase one, get free entry to the OAC to use at a later date. Meet at the front entrance of the building along the Dequindre Cut. Register for the Detroit Riverfront Cleanup.

Sensory Sunday

Sunday, October 2, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m

Kicking off the new Sensory Sunday program, the Outdoor Adventure Center welcomes visitors with sensory processing differences during sensory-friendly hours, with free entry for all guests. Visitors have the opportunity to experience the OAC with construction and ambient sounds at lower volumes and a quiet room with sensory materials. At midday, the building opens to the public, with volume returning to normal levels. All staff are KultureCity certified to ensure the best possible experience.

The October event will celebrate fall with extra fun – donning a costume or festive fall shirt is welcome! You can win a copy of Drew Daywalt’s children’s book The Crayons Trick or Treat.

The Outdoor Adventure Center will offer six of these sensory Sunday events over the coming year; the next scheduled date is Sunday 4 December.

Outdoor games and live animals

Sunday, October 2, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m

Visitors can enjoy a variety of outdoor games and time with the center’s live animals.

Among the projects the Outdoor Adventure Center has completed during its September closure are three new murals highlighting Michigan’s state parks, native wildflowers and “Leave No Trace” messages by artist Ken “Phybr” Dushane ( . Today, Dushane is a Kansas City, Missouri-based muralist, designer, and educator who has become a sought-after artist for his colorful portraiture and pop art-style tropical foliage. His career as a painter began in Detroit in 2014.

“What I enjoyed most about the project was being able to create murals for the parks because I grew up so much with the parks as a kid and continue to do so with my own family,” said Dushane. “And to be able to give that back in some way is amazing to me.”

The murals were a special project supported by the Friends of the Outdoor Adventure Center.

Chair Andrea LaFontaine said the group was “very proud to have helped bring these three projects to our center. We know that our guests will be amazed by their beauty. We love that the theme features Michigan’s natural resources and state parks. We look forward to expanding our group and bringing new projects to the OAC for all to enjoy.”

Other improvements to the Outdoor Adventure Center include:

  • A new model train running around the center’s living wall, a replica depicting the trains that brought materials into the facility (the Globe Building, former home of the Detroit Dry Dock Engine Works and later the Detroit Shipbuilding Company ) brought. The train was custom built by a local train enthusiast and the platform, tracks and electronics were designed by DNR park wardens Frank Toarmina and Pete Gosinski.
  • A “small library” with nature books for young and old at the entrance.
  • A new sidewalk allowing for better accessibility from the parking lot to the front door was built by Mt. Clemens’ DNR field service team.
  • Updated lighting and technology throughout.
  • A new Perception model kayak, donated by Pelican International, for the center’s kayak simulator. After over 500,000 guests enjoyed the kayaking experience, it was time for a new ship.

Located on Detroit’s riverfront at 1801 Atwater Street, with the Dequindre Cut Trail running through its backyard, the Outdoor Adventure Center gives visitors a taste of Michigan’s great outdoors in the heart of the city. Learn more at

Note to the editor: Accompanying photos are available for download below. Subtitle information to follow.

  • Leave No Trace: One of three new murals at the Department of Natural Resources’ Outdoor Adventure Center, this piece includes the message “Leave No Trace”, “Take Only Memories, Leave Only Footprints”.
  • Wildflowers in Michigan: Andrea LaFontaine, Chair of the Friends of the Outdoor Adventure Center, stands in front of one of three murals created by artist Ken “Phybr” Dushane and supported by the Friends group. This shows Michigan wildflowers.
  • Team Postcard: Pictured in front of a new mural at the Outdoor Adventure Center highlighting Michigan State Parks (left to right): Andrea LaFontaine, Chair of Friends of the Outdoor Adventure Center; artists Madeline and Ken “Phybr” Dushane; and DNR rangers Frank Toarmina and Pete Gosinski.