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Joshua Tree National Park provides the perfect outdoor setting to enhance classroom-based learning. You can visit on your own or have a ranger join you for an outdoor education program. All ranger-led education programs are curriculum-based (California State Education Standards, NGSS) and free of charge. teachers can schedule programs ranging from tracking to an exploration of issues vital to park management, and scientific plots selected for long-term data collection where they will ID and age certain plant species in Joshua Tree. Younger grades can explore geology and the process of erosion, the life of the tortoise and its habitat, among other topics. There is even a virtual field trip program for classes out of the area.
Ranger-led Field Trips
Submit the Field Trip Reservation Request Form via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Things to keep in mind while filling out this form: Most program locations can accommodate 1 bus (2 classes on a bus)
Ranger-led programs generally last 1-1.5 hours, not including driving or lunch time. Expect total time in the park (travel to site, program, lunch) to be approximately 3 hours.
Field Trip Reservation Request Form
You may also choose to submit a Transportation Funding Request Form.
Through generous donations from private organizations and the Joshua Tree National Park Association, the park is able to fund students travelling to the park by school bus within 50 miles of the park boundary. The park may only be able to partially fund students travelling by charter bus or those coming from beyond the 50-mile radius.
Preschool and Kindergarten
Who Lives in a National Park?
Using songs, activities, and short hikes geared toward younger students, this program explores the plants and animals living in the desert and how they make the desert home.
Location: Black Rock Nature Center
Standards: NGSS K-LS1-1
Students will see the effects of slow and fast change on the Joshua Tree geological landscape. They will also experience how the diversity of desert life survives in that landscape through games, activities, and a moderate hike. Prior to your visit, please watch this short video.
Location: Black Rock Nature Center
Standards: NGSS 2-ESS1-1, 2-ESS2-2
Exploring a Desert Habitat
Students will investigate the diversity of desert life and learn about special plant and animal adaptations through games and a moderate hike.
Location: Black Rock Nature Center or Cottonwood Campground
Standards: NGSS 1-LS1-1, 2-LS4-1
Students will experience how erosion alters the landscape at Joshua Tree. They will explore geological features, up close and personal, and hear stories of how humans have interacted with that geology for thousands of years. After a guided hike, rangers will lead students on a fun scramble through the rocks.
Prior to your visit, please watch this short video.
Location: Hidden Valley Picnic Area or Cottonwood Campground
Standards: NGSS: 4-ESS2-1, 4-ESS2-2, 5-ESS2-1
Keys to the Past
Bill Keys arrived in Joshua Tree looking for gold but stayed for 60 years. With his wife, Francis, they raised a large family and maintained several side ventures on their rugged Desert Queen Ranch. Students will explore the ranch, learning about the wit and ingenuity needed to survive in the remote and harsh location of the Mojave Desert. *Program is limited to 1 class per visit
Location: Keys Ranch
Standards: CA SS Standard 3.2, 4.2-3
Middle and High School
Tune in to Tracking
Students will be provided the opportunity to learn how the threatened desert tortoise thrives and how park scientists keep track of the population. Students will track and take measurements of “tortoises” in the wild (no live animals will be used.)
Location: Cap Rock Nature Trail, Black Rock Nature Center, or Cottonwood Campground
Issues in Park Management
Surrounded by millions of people in a highly populated part of the country, the park faces many issues when trying to fulfill its mission to preserve and protect natural and cultural resources for all in perpetuity. Students will be guided through areas experiencing the effects of change and explore reasons why they think these issues exist and how the park should react. Teachers can select topics from the following list of current issues: graffiti, climate change, impacts of increased visitation, or the teacher can work with staff on current issues pertinent to the classroom.
Location: throughout the park. Education staff will assist to find an appropriate location.
Discovering the Ancients
Students will visit scientific plots selected for longterm data collection where they will ID and age certain plant species in Joshua Tree. Data collected will be entered into a database available to park scientists. It is strongly recommended that the Guest Speaker pre-visit program, Discovering the Ancients, also be scheduled to prepare students for the field trip.
Locations- Throughout the park. Education staff will assist with best locations.
Self-guided Field Trips
Academic fee waivers are available for groups that choose to take a self-guided trip to Joshua Tree National Park.
Find out more by scanning the QR Codes or Contact the Joshua Tree National Park at 760-367-3012
Joshua Tree National Park
9800 Black Rock Canyon Road
Yucca Valley, CA 92284