Joshua Tree National Park Association

Desert Institute

April 2024

Want $10 off Desert Institute classes?

Black Rock Nature Center
Friday April 5
Snakes of Joshua Tree National Park with Paisely Ramstead
3:00pm - 7:00pm at Black Rock Nature Center

Learn up about all things snakes, with a short and easy field excursion to learn how to identify the kinds of places snakes like to hang out (and maybe spot one too!). The class covers snake species in Joshua Tree National Park and how to safely and responsibly view and interact with wild snakes. This course is open to all ages and is family-friendly!

Seminar/Field Class
All levels welcome!
The Milky Way above a large rock formation in Joshua Tree National Park. Picture by Jon Norris
Saturday April 6
Dark Sky Photography with Jon Norris
6:00pm - 2:00am at Cap Rock Nature Trail

Develop new skills while learning how to scout and plan interesting astrophotography images, shoot a timelapse to capture star trails, and how to capture the Milky Way best. This dark sky workshop will follow a series of practical lessons but will be a relaxed environment in which you can set your own pace. 

Workshop/Field Class
All levels welcome!
Expressive painting of a desert landscape
Tuesday April 9
Plein Air Painting: Capturing Light & Shadows with Jessica Schiffman
8:00am - 4:00pm at Indian Cove

This workshop will help you to simplify and organize what you see to create dynamic paintings with strong, logical dark and light patterns. Topics will include composition, focal point, perspective, value (dark and light), underpainting, painting ala prima, color theory, and mixing paint. Includes a demo and one-on-one coaching.

Workshop/Field Class
Child painting a colorful sky behind silhouettes of two Joshua trees
Friday April 12
Desert Arts and Crafts for Youth and Families with Justin Lenzi and Benazir Erdahl
6:00pm - 7:30pm at JTNPA West

Let’s get creative! Make a desert collage, sculpture, or landscape painting. We will learn about local artists, desert color pallets, and the cultural significance of the arts in Joshua Tree National Park. All youth participants must be accompanied by an adult. 

Field Class
Field of California bluebell flowers
Saturday April 13
Spring Flora with Melanie Davis
8:00am - 2:00pm at Joshua Tree Visitors Center

Explore the diversity and understated beauty of s common spring-flowering shrubs and annual plants of the Mojave desert within the Joshua Tree and Pinyon-juniper woodland plant communities. Learn about field guides, botanical keys, and other tools for plant identification.

Field Class
Joshua trees and large rock formations at sunset in Joshua Tree National Park
Saturday April 13
Coming Outdoors Hike with Justin Lenzi, Reilly Powell, and Edgar Enciso
4:00pm - 5:30pm at Hi-View Nature Trail

Come out for a fun, friendly, and educational walk in Black Rock. Learn about the plants, animals, and history of Joshua Tree National Park. Coming Outdoors is a queer-friendly excursion—all friends of Dorothy are invited!

Excursion/Field Class
Coming Outdoors Mixer with Justin Lenzi, Reilly Powell, and Edgar Enciso
6:00pm - 8:00pm at JTNPA West

Gather at JTNPA West—the Joshua Tree National Park store in Old Town, Yucca Valley—for a mixer. Get to know local folx and new friends from the surrounding communities. Coming Outdoors is a queer-friendly event—all friends of Dorothy are invited!

Social Event
Open to all!
Sunrise over the Cholla Garden in Joshua Tree National Park
Sunday April 14
Landscapes of the Soul: Writers Workshop with Cindi Anderson
12:00pm - 3:00pm at Indian Cove

Learn how to use a mythological lens to experience Joshua Tree, as well as exploring its specific meaning to you through a writing practice called Active Imagination, a meditative writing technique that will give you a new understanding of how our desert landscape speaks to you in personal and meaningful ways.

All levels welcome!
Hands holding a small bird with a yellow beak. Picture by Tom O'Keefe
Advanced Bird Banding with Stephen Meyers
Saturday April 20 10:00am - 12:00pm at JTNPA West
Saturday April 27 6:30am - 1:00pm at White Water Preserve
Saturday May 11 6:30am - 1:00pm at White Water Preserve

This course builds on the information presented in the introduction to bird banding class. The lecture session in Yucca Valley will be followed by two days of hands-on experience capturing, handling, and banding birds in the field.

Lecture/Field Class
All levels welcome!
Prerequisite: Beginning Bird Banding or Instructor Approval

Want $10 off Desert Institute classes?

Two cyclists on a road in Joshua Tree National Park. Picture: NPS/Brad Sutton
Sunday April 21
Desert Ecology Bike Tour with Mike Medina
8:00am - 1:00pm in the Queen Valley

Cycling is one of the best ways to experience Joshua Tree National Park. On this leisurely eleven-mile, semi-loop ride, riders will learn and observe how plants, animals, microorganisms, geology, soils, seasons, weather, climate, and humans interact to form a complex relationship that has shaped the park’s past, present, and future.

Excursion/Field Class
Quail perched on the trunk of a felled tree in Joshua Tree National Park. Picture by NPS / Renata Harrison
Birds of Joshua Tree National Park with Kurt Leuschner
Tuesday April 23 from 7:00pm - 8:30pm on Zoom
Saturday April 27 from 7:30am - 4:30pm in Big Morongo Canyon Preserve
Sunday April 28 from 7:15am - 1:15pm at Luckie Park

Joshua trees do not make a typical forest; the landscape is open, the climate dry and vegetation relatively sparse. Despite this, over 240 species of birds have been recorded in Joshua Tree National Park! Over this two-day field class through the Mojave and Colorado Deserts, participants will identify common and rare birds. 

Lecture/Field Class
All levels welcome!
Group of women on a large boulder in Joshua Tree National Park
Friday April 26 - Sunday April 28
Womens Getaway Weekend with Pam Kersey & Robin Balch
3:00pm Friday - 12:00pm Sunday at Lost Horse Campground

Trade in your computer, cell phone, Instagram, clocks, schedules, and workplace jargon for an off-the-grid weekend with the girls for two days of pure unadulterated fun and education!

Excursion/Field Class
The Marble Mountains
Saturday April 27
Fossils of the Marble Mountains with Alessandro Grippo
9:00am - 2:00pm in the Marble Mountains

The Marble Mountains are a small mountain range located in one of the harshest, driest parts of the Mojave Desert. The Marble Mountains have a comparatively rich Cambrian fossil biota, dominated by one of the earliest known groups of arthropods—trilobites. Slather on the sunscreen for this one-day field class right off historic Route 66! 

Field Class
All levels welcome!
A group of children hike with a Joshua Tree National Park ranger. Picture by NPS/Hannah Schwalbe
Sunday April 28
Desert Explorer 101 for Youth and Families with Justin Lenzi and Benazir Erdahl
9:00am - 11:00am on Skull Rock Discovery Trail

Join us for a fun and educational journey through time. We will learn about the igneous rock formations, desert plants and wildlife, and adaptations that help living things survive in this environment. There will be many places to stop and explore. We will play a couple of games and tell stories about the park. All youth participants must be accompanied by an adult. 

Lecture/Field Class
All levels welcome!
Small black bird perched on the branch of a bush. Picture by NPS/Brad Sutton
Birds of the Mojave with Kurt Leuschner
Tuesday April 30 from 7:00pm - 8:30pm on Zoom
Friday May 3 at 4:00pm through Sunday May 5 at 12:00pm in Zzyzx and the Desert Studies Center

This course examines the important role of migratory stopover areas of the Mojave Desert in the conservation of neotropical migrant birds and introduces the techniques used to identify the common families of birds found in the vicinity of the Desert Studies Center, where more than 240 bird species have been recorded. 

Lecture/Excursion/Field Class

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April Activities – Joshua Tree National Park Association
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