The Osoyoos Desert Centre has a new gateway to its familiar digs.

An Osoyoos Desert Society campaign to raise $120,000 for a new interpretive centre was realized earlier this month with the opening of the 12- x 60-foot modular structure — a long narrow passage to the desert adventure beyond.

“We opened on Mother’s Day,” said Executive Director Denise Eastwick, who was greeting visitors herself Monday afternoon. “This was probably one of the best May long weekends, that I can remember.”

The new centre blends with its surrounding desert environs and a new deck adds an outdoor event space.

“We added some new exhibits and refreshed some of the existing exhibits,” Ms Eastwick says of the inside. “It’s a work in progress, but there are new exhibits and the old exhibits were updated.”

The new building replaces an older structure worn down over decades of use.

“The society got them in 1998 and they were second-hand buildings then,” said Ms Eastwick. “We appreciated getting them, but they certainly didn’t owe us anything.”

She said a grand opening is expected later in the season, along with a summer fundraiser.

The building is an improved gateway to a 67-acre interpretive park that provides a glimpse into the ecology of Canada’s only pocket desert.

The Centre invites guests to explore desert life through guided or self-guided tours along a 1.5-km elevated wooden boardwalk— including relaxing at one of the several kiosks along the route while taking in the spectacular views.

Visitors can also browse through a gift shop and enjoy a snack in the outdoor picnic area.

The Desert Centre, located three km north of Osoyoos off Hwy. 97, is open 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, including holidays. Tickets are $20 for a family, $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $6 for youth. Children five and under visit for free.

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