Outdoor education with school field trips

About Us

The Highlands Center for Natural History is a regional hub for lifelong learning through outdoor education. We nurture a meaningful sense of place and foster an appreciation for and knowledge of the Central Arizona Highlands. The development of both onsite and offsite outdoor education programs and partnerships provides opportunities for our community to understand the connections between humanity and the natural world, inspiring all to live in a respectful and sustainable way. We believe that everyone has a fundamental need to connect with the natural world.

Our Mission and Core Values

OUR MISSION:  The Highlands Center helps children and adults discover the wonders of nature and become wise caretakers of the land.

The Center is guided by the following five core values in achieving its mission and vision:

  1. Wonder: We value giving everyone the opportunity to discover and experience the awe and wonder of nature.
  2. Reverence: We respect, honor and celebrate the natural world and strive to be wise caretakers of the land.
  3. Dedication: We are committed to the mission of the Center, striving for quality in all that we do.
  4. Integrity: We uphold honesty, open communication, mutual respect and accountability in all words and actions.
  5. Diversity: The activities of the Center embrace the diversity found in the natural world, human communities, and individual perspectives.

Our History

Originally the Community Nature Center, an organization that hosted programs using a 20-acre natural site in the Prescott Unified School District, the Highlands Center for Natural History has served the residents of Central Arizona for nearly three decades. The Highlands Center was formed in 1996 and assumed the mission of the original organization. Since that time the Highlands Center has grown to offer an 80-acre campus in the Prescott National Forest near Lynx Lake, has built remarkable facilities, and now offers community events and outdoor educational programs and opportunities year-round.

We are able to accomplish all of this with the continued support of donors, members, volunteers, and community partners. The Center is operated under a special use permit with Prescott National Forest. 

Central Arizona Highlands

The Central Arizona Highlands push themselves up in between the dramatic desert landscape of the Sonoran Desert to the south, and the vast Colorado Plateau to the north. This transition zone of ancient, eroded mountains lies like a sash across Arizona, from Kingman in the northwest all the way down to Safford and beyond into New Mexico.

While exploring our trails you will discover a microcosm of the greater Central Arizona Highlands region from ponderosa pine forest to juniper-pinyon woodland, chaparral-covered hillsides, a riparian creek system, and ancient geologic formations.

This diversity of plant life results in a wonderful richness of wildlife species, offering us all a wealth of opportunities for wonder, exploration, and discovery.


Central Arizona Highlands

Explore Our Trails

Our 3-mile nature trail system is a gateway to Lynx Creek and other Prescott National Forest trails and is open to the public year round. There is no fee to walk the trails and parking is free.  Donations are welcome and appreciated. 

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