Reimagining Mitchell Canyon Visitor Center

Designed to Educate and Inspire Environmental Stewardship

Mitchell Canyon Entrance_JWare
Mitchell Canyon Entrance_JWare

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Mitchell Canyon Entrance_JWare
Mitchell Canyon Entrance_JWare

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About Mitchell Canyon

Mitchell Canyon attracts 35,000 visitors per year. The location is a popular point of access in Mount Diablo State Park for hikes to the summit or the waterfalls, wildflower hikes, tarantula hikes, organized trail running events, mountain biking, equestrian rides, photography, birding, and geology hikes. Mount Diablo is an island of natural beauty for all of the Bay Area and is a destination for millions of people who live within a 100-mile radius.  Of the 35,000 annual visitors, we serve an average of 9,500 each year within the visitor center when we are open on the weekends.

About the Project

The new visitor center complex will educate park users about the natural and multi-cultural history of the mountain, communicate safety information, provide access for visitors with disabilities to outdoor exhibits and the visitor center, and create multiple spaces to accommodate K-12 classes and interpretive presentations.  This facility will bring new visitors to the area from the broader Bay Area, specifically reaching out to underrepresented populations through multicultural displays and a new education outreach program.  Finally, the design focuses on the construction of a “green”, fire-safe building to demonstrate how to build for climate change.

This project will construct a new 1500 square foot visitor center to replace the 400 square foot temporary trailer.  It will rebuild the restrooms to comply with ADA guidelines and create a trail/path for those with disabilities to access the new visitor center and the new outdoor exhibits.  The center will include accessible exhibits of the natural history of Mitchell Canyon, recognition of native Americans who first inhabited the area, and new self-guided hike selection displays.  The project will also include a patio area to accommodate a field trip class outdoors, as well as enough space in the new visitor center to accommodate a class indoors.

Improvements include:

  • A welcoming building connected to an outdoor area with vistas to trailhead and mountain peaks

  • Restrooms renovated to meet ADA standards and replace the failing roof. Restrooms will connect to the visitor center via an ADA accessible path

  • Outdoor plaza or shaded area for visitors or field trip classes to gather for presentations or to look at outdoor exhibits describing the cultural and natural history of the mountain

  • ADA accessible pathway to the visitor center, outdoor exhibits, Native Plant Garden, and a future outdoor plaza  

Collaborative Planning and Consultation

The Mount Diablo Interpretive Association (MDIA) engaged a professional architect (Ware Associates) through a competitive selection process to prepare conceptual drawings for a new visitor center. The conceptual drawings emphasize green construction using local materials, fire-safe building techniques appropriate for an urban wildfire interface zone, water conservation and recharging groundwater with rainwater capture; solar electricity; passive heating, and cooling. All of these design elements are intended to educate the visitor on how to build for a sustainable future and what they can do in their own homes to implement some of these strategies.  Displays explain each element of the building and site, which has been specifically designed to educate and inspire environmental stewardship.

Additional consultants include:

  • Native American representatives to discuss how the Visitor Center can best respect the site's tribal past and present.

  • County Office of Education (COE) officials to determine what facilities would encourage more field trips from the 16 diverse school districts in the County.

  • Mount Diablo State Park Staff

  • Mount Diablo State Park Mounted Assistance Unit (MUA) 

  • Volunteers and visitors to Mitchell Canyon

Supporting the Long Term Vision

MDIA is a 501(c)(3) organized Cooperative Agency to exclusively support Mount Diablo State Park with a team of volunteers. MDIA is currently applying for a monetary grant to fund the project from California State Parks via Proposition 68. But funds are limited and more help is needed. MDIA asks you to share in its long-term vision by joining MDIA or donating, or both.

There is so much more that we can do to inform and inspire visitors about the Native American relationship to the mountain, the early settler history, the mountain as a tourist destination when it was privately owned, the mining history on the mountain, the ranching uses of the mountain which continues today, and so many more.   These stories simply cannot be told in our little temporary trailer, but with the expanded space and outdoor exhibit area, we will have so many opportunities for permanent and temporary exhibits to convey the cultural significance of the mountain as well as promote a healthy lifestyle and appreciation of nature.

MCVC Concept
MCVC Concept Above

Proposed New Visitor Center to be constructed at the existing site.

MCVC Courtyard
MCVC Outdoor Exhibit Area

Courtyard with outdoor exhibits, trail information and hydration station.

MCVC Indoor Exhibit Area

Indoor exhibit area with classroom-conference room.

How you can help