Joshua Tree National Park Association

Desert Institute

March 2024

Want $10 off Desert Institute classes?

Four hikers amid yellow wildflowers with Joshua trees and hills in Joshua Tree National Park
Friday March 1
Hiking 101
2:00pm - 5:00pm at Black Rock

If you’re feeling that tug to get outside and try hiking, but you don’t know where to start, join this short seminar to learn the basics and build your confidence. You’ll learn what to pack in your bag, how to dress, and how to begin interpreting maps and choosing trails. We’ll give you the tools you’ll need to prepare and stay safe while out on the trail!

Seminar/Field Class
All levels welcome!
Rainbow in a very blue sky "touching" a large rock formation in Indian Cove
Sunday March 3
Write Like the Desert with Ruth Nolan
1:00pm - 5:00pm at Indian Cove

Turn to the lure and lore of the Mojave Desert as you generate creative writing in simple prose and poetic forms. This workshop includes an easy walk along the Indian Cove Nature Trail, instructor-led prompts, sharing activities, and excerpts from some of the classics of Mojave Desert literature.

Workshop/Field Class
All levels welcome!
Cholla cactus up close with cacti in the background at the Cholla Garden in Joshua Tree National Park
Flora of Joshua Tree National Park with Kurt Leuschner
Tuesday March 5 from 7:00pm - 8:30pm on Zoom
Saturday March 9 from 8:30am - 3:30pm in Joshua Tree National Park (Mojave Desert)
Sunday March 10 from 8:30am - 1:00pm in Joshua Tree National Park (Colorado Desert)

Learn about the unique flora in the Mojave Desert and Colorado desert sections of the park, including how to identify them yourself! Includes a botany lecture on Zoom and two days of field classes in various regions of the park.

Lecture/Field Class
Three students in the October 2023 Birds of Anza-Borrego class watch a flock of birds through binoculars. Picture by Sarah Witt
Birds of Anza-Borrego with Kurt Leuschner
Tuesday March 12 from 7:00pm - 8:30pm on Zoom
Saturday March 16 from 7:30am - 4:30pm in Anza-Borrego
Sunday March 17 from 7:30am - 12:00pm in Anza-Borrego

Explore the oases in the Anza-Borrego Desert, which is home to a surprisingly wide variety of resident and migratory bird species. Includes a Zoom lecture and two days of field classes on conservation, ecology, natural history, and special adaptations to the harsh desert environment.

Lecture/Field Class
All levels welcome!

Want $10 off Desert Institute classes?

Field of California bluebell flowers
Saturday March 16
Spring Flora with Melanie Davis
8:00am - 2:00pm at Joshua Tree Visitor 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.

Lecture/Field Class
House finch caught in a net. Picture by Benazir Erdahl
Beginning Bird Banding with Stephen Meyers
Saturday March 16 from 10:00am - 12:00pm at JTNPA West
Saturday March 23 from 7:00am - 1:00pm at Black Widow Ranch
Sunday March 24 from 7:00am - 1:00pm at Black Widow Ranch

This course is a basic introduction to banding birds, which is a valuable tool in ornithological research and monitoring. Learn the history, purpose, goals, and methods of banding. Then join us for two days of hands-on experience capturing, handling, and banding birds in the field. 

Lecture/Field Class
All levels welcome!
Sunday March 17
Discover Lost Horse Mine with Pam Kersey and Tom Scanlan
7:00am - 1:00pm at Lost Horse Mine

Join us for a trip back to the California Gold Rush, Joshua Tree style! In this class we will explore the Lost Horse Mine, a classic Western mill and mining site. Learn about the history of the Lost Horse mine, some of the colorful characters associated with it, and gold mining and processing as it was typically done in the American West.

Lecture/Field Class
Backpacker looking out across rocky backcountry trail with a bright sunset
Friday March 22 - Sunday March 24
Backpacking: Beyond the Boy Scouts Trail with Jon Norris
9:00am Friday - 2:00pm Sunday in Joshua Tree National Park

Spend a few days out in the backcountry and learn how to plan your own dry-climate outing while traveling the picaresque boundary-lands of the Joshua Tree National Park wilderness. We’ll trek 23.7 miles on this 3-day, 2-night trip that loops through the northwest corner of the park.

A group of children hiking past a West Side Loop and Hi-View trail sign in Black Rock
Sunday March 24
Wilderness Survival 101 for Youth and Families with Justin Lenzi and Benazir Erdahl
10:00am - 12:00pm at Black Rock

Have you ever wondered how people survive outdoors in the desert? Join us for a short hike, entertaining stories, survival strategies, and a build-your-own survival kit activity. This class is for youth (5+) and families. All youth participants must be accompanied by an adult.

Field Class
All levels welcome!
Tarantula Hawk on creosote. Picture by NPS/Brad Sutton
Saturday March 30
Desert Insects: Who They Are and Why They Matter with Scott Heacox
9:00am - 3:00pm at Black Rock

Bugs… who needs ‘em? We do! In this introductory entomology course, students will get to know the tiny and often invisible neighbors that make this desert the place it is and hopefully build a new-found appreciation for insects, large and small. This is a classroom-based course with insect-hunting walks.

Field Class
All levels welcome!
Star trails and a large Joshua tree in Joshua Tree National Park. Picture by Casey Kiernan
Saturday March 30
Star Trail Photography with Casey Kiernan
5:00pm - 8:00pm in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is world famous for its dark skies! Learn how to create star-trail images in this hands-on workshop. Bring your DSLR or mirrorless camera to capture the Milky Way!

Workshop/Field Class
All levels welcome!
March Activities – Joshua Tree National Park Association
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