Joshua Tree National Park Association, Desert Institute

Exploring Nature through Education

The Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park is an adult education program offering an in-depth exploration of the park’s natural wonders. Learn from highly qualified instructors who are passionate about sharing their expertise and committed to providing a personal and fun learning experience. The Desert Institute is sponsored by the Joshua Tree National Park Association and operates with the full endorsement of the National Park Service. Join us this season for an educational adventure.

This season of Desert Institute classes is made possible by the generous sponsorship of Visit 29 Palms. Check out Visit29.org to learn about all the great shops, restaurants, lodging and attractions in Twentynine Palms and start planning your visit.

GEOLOGY AND GEOMORPHOLOGY OF DEATH VALLEY
by Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park

DATE AND TIME
January 7, 2022 @ 09:00 AM to
January 9, 2022 @ 03:00 PM
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LOCATION
Highway 190, Furnace Creek, CA, Furnace Creek, Death Valley National Park

The Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park presents Geology and Geomorphology of Death Valley with Alessandro Grippo.
In this below-sea-level basin, steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Yet, each extreme has a striking contrast. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow, but the valley bottom can reach almost 130°F in summer. While rainstorms maybe uncommon, they bring many dramatic changes to the landscape. Join instructor Alessandro Grippo in the exploration of the geology and landscape of Death Valley. This course takes the students through the geologic highlights of Death Valley National Park. The class meets at Furnace Creek Visitor Center on Friday morning and, after an introduction to the geology of the Basin and Range desert and its natural physical processes, students will travel south by car to hike the Natural Bridge trail. They will then head back to the valley bottom to explore the playa lake at Badwater, with further stops during the day at Devils Golf Course and Artists Palette. On Saturday the class will visit Devils Cornfield and then wander through the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. After lunch at Stovepipe Wells, students will hike and explore Mosaic Canyon. Finally, on Sunday the class will drive to the westernmost part of the park by entering the Panamint Valley and later go for an easy hike at Darwin’s falls to complete their exploration.

HIKE THE BOUNDRY LANDS
by Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park
DATE AND TIME
December 18, 2021 @ 07:30 AM to
December 18, 2021 @ 05:00 PM
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LOCATION
Joshua Tree Visitor Center, 6554 Park Boulevard, Joshua Tree, CA, Joshua Tree National Park

The Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park present Hike the Boundary Lands with Travis Puglisi. Approximately 8 mile loop hike exploring the washes and canyons surrounding Nolina Peak along with the flora, fauna, and land management curiosities that exist within. Set largely on lands managed by the Mojave Desert Land Trust (MDLT), this route will expose participants to Joshua Tree woodland habitat, upper elevation oak and pinyon environments, and the rocky channels that connect the two. Within the elevation lows (3711’) and highs (4796’) a huge range of fauna can be encountered, including jackrabbit and coyote, golden eagles, great horned owl, mountain quail, mule deer and bighorn sheep. The flora will change rather dramatically as the elevation rises and descends. Several species of cacti, impressive Parry’s nolina, notable scrub oak, and pinyon pine displays will be encountered. While much of the hike will feel remote, there will be regular reminders of how public lands and private lands interface over time, as illustrated by the residential starting point, the MDLT managed trail head, mid-zone that contains private inholdings within Joshua Tree National Park, and the hikes conclusion which moves through land currently managed by the Mojave Desert Land Trust. This hike will be a mostly cross-country hike on durable surfaces, except for portions where roads, both active and discontinued, will be utilized. This hike will be labeled as moderately strenuous and does include maneuvering around and over rocks. Participants will encounter opportunities for shaded rest throughout much of the hike.

Hiking My Feelings: Using Mindful Movement to Open the Flow of Creativity
by Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park

DATE AND TIME
December 3, 2021 @ 03:00 PM to
December 5, 2021 @ 02:00 PM
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LOCATION
Joshua Tree Visitor Center 6554 Park Boulevard Joshua Tree, CA, Joshua Tree National Park

The Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park presents Hiking My Feelings: Using Mindful Movements to Open Flow of Creativity with Sydney Williams.
Have you been taking time for yourself to reflect on what you really want? Are you stuck in a creative rut? Are you ready to make 2022 your Year of Creative Exploration? Sydney + Barry Williams have been hiking and brainstorming for years and it has revolutionized the way they live their lives and the way they do business. By combining mindset techniques acquired as a Division 1 athlete, competitive skydiver, and corporate executive, incorporating playful techniques from improv (“yes, and!”), and encouraging mindful movement, they’ve developed a personal reflection format to help you unlock your best ideas, open the flow of creativity, and improve your mental, spiritual, and physical health. Join us for a judgement-free weekend where transformational healing is possible. We introduce participants to mindfulness and the healing power of nature, and the results are lasting improvements to mental, physical and spiritual health.

HIKING IN THE SHADOW OF QUAIL MOUNTAIN
by Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park

DATE AND TIME
December 11, 2021 @ 07:00 AM to
December 11, 2021 @ 05:00 PM

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LOCATION

8737 Paradise View Rd., Yucca Valley, CA, Joshua Tree National Park

The Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park presents Hiking in the Shadow of Quail Mountain with Travis Puglisi.
Standing higher than every other peak within Joshua Tree National Park, Quail Mountain has had a dramatic impact. Joshua Tree National Park’s highest peak, Quail Mountain (5,816’), is a feature that dominates much of the landscape in the Park’s western reaches. Connecting no less than four distinct zones of Joshua Tree National Park (Covington Flats, East Deception Canyon, Lost Horse Valley, and the Quail Wash corridor, the areas surrounding the peak also connect the present to the past by containing several observable signs of human inhabitation. Examples include the Lost Horse Ranger Station, formerly a private residence within the Park, and Johnny Lang Canyon.
Apart from the structural remains of history, participants will also encounter dumping left by park homesteaders which provide a window into their day to day and craft of the era, areas of thriving cryptobiotic soil crusts, and fascinating alcoves that serve as ideal zones for animal inhabitation (coyote and fox). The heart of the outing will bring hikers to the south end of Johnny Lang Canyon and then up to a ridgeline that provides commanding views of Juniper Flats, Lost Horse Valley to the East, and the topographical variance as the terrain descends to the south towards Desert Hot Springs. Both Mt. San Jacinto and Mt. San Gorgonio will dominate the Western Horizon. This hike will be mostly cross country, with occasional use made of roads, both existing and abandoned.

Geology and History of Cottonwood Spring
by Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park

DATE AND TIME
December 4, 2021 @ 09:00 AM to
December 4, 2021 @ 04:00 PM

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LOCATION

Cottonwood Exit (168) off of Highway 10 Pinto Basin Rd. Twentynine Palms, CA, Cottonwood Visitor Center, Joshua Tree National Park

The Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park presents the Geology and History of Cottonwood Spring with Ted Reeves.
Stretch your legs and enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Cottonwood Mountains with Ted Reeves, in this all-day field class. Reeves will discuss the geologic history of Joshua Tree National Park, and the rocks and plants of the Cottonwood Mountains. We will also discuss some human history of the Cottonwood Spring area during the late 1800s. Participants will walk six miles through the rolling hills of the Colorado Desert to see mills, mines, and more. Along the trail, Reeves will share the adaptations of plants and animals to the desert environment. A portion of the walk will follow a prominent freight road built in the 1880s. Attendees will learn what is known about the road’s creation and use. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn how geology is connected to cultural history at Cottonwood Spring!

Winter Light: Photographing Desert Preserves
by Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park

DATE AND TIME
December 4, 2021 @ 08:00 AM to
December 4, 2021 @ 04:30 PM

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LOCATION
Whitewater exit off of Hwy 10 Whitewater, CA, Whitewater Preserve

The Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park presents Winter Light: Photographing Desert Preserves with Craig Fucile.
Join us for a day of photography in two special desert places off the beaten track: Whitewater Preserve, and the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve. Winter is an excellent season to photograph the low desert, with its cool temperatures, longer shadows and views of distant peaks.
The day consists of photographic field sessions, group instruction and one-on-one assistance from your instructor. Your questions will be answered! You’ll learn tips and techniques for controlling sharpness, exposure, making panoramic photographs, and using lenses, along with creative exercises in photographing the desert landscape. Class begins in the morning close to the rugged cliffs of Whitewater Preserve. After lunch, we relocate to Big Morongo Canyon Preserve for afternoon field sessions among the cottonwoods. Hiking at each preserve is easy – to moderate; we’ll be walking on trails that are mainly level. Participants are encouraged to bring a tripod with their camera(s).

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