Joshua Tree National Park Association

Desert Institute

May 2024

Want $10 off Desert Institute classes?

Hands holding a small bird with a yellow beak. Picture by Tom O'Keefe
Don't forget! This course starts in April
Advanced Bird Banding with Stephen Meyers
Saturday April 20 6:00pm - 8:00pm 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
Small black bird perched on the branch of a bush. Picture by NPS/Brad Sutton
Don't forget! This course starts in April
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
Intermediate
Cacti of Joshua Tree National Park with Melanie Davis
Saturday May 4 from 6:00pm - 8:00pm on Zoom
Sunday May 5 from 8:00am - 3:00pm in Joshua Tree National Park

Get to know the cacti of Joshua Tree National Park and its surrounding desert environs. Students will learn all kinds of fascinating facts about cacti in this immersive one-day lecture and field course, and will be taught how to identify cacti species in the Mojave and Colorado deserts using common field identification techniques.

Lecture/Field Class
Intermediate
Camera on a tripod capturing a photograph of Arch Rock in Joshua Tree National Park. Picture by Jon Norris
Saturday May 4
Landscape Photography Hike with Jon Norris
9:00am - 4:00pm in the South Wonderland of Rocks

Explore the South Wonderland of Rocks on this full-day hike-and-shoot excursion. This is a relaxed and slow-paced workshop focused on landscape photography techniques with one-on-one coaching.

Workshop/Field Class
Intermediate/Challenging
Hiking gear including a hat, sunglasses, camera, and water bottle on a rock near a cactus. Picture by NPS / Jesmira Bonoan
Friday May 10
Hiking 101
4:00pm - 7:00pm at Black Rock Nature Center

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!
The Milky Way above a large rock formation in Joshua Tree National Park. Picture by Jon Norris
Saturday May 11
Dark Sky Photography with Jon Norris
6:00pm - 12:00am at Cap Rock

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!

Want $10 off Desert Institute classes?

Macro view of a red and black ant
Sunday May 12
Ants: The Unsung Heroes of the Desert with Scott Heacox
8:00am - 3:00pm at Black Rock

Most people can recognize a few species of ants, but there are actually dozens of bizarre species all around us, often hidden in plain sight. In this class, participants learn how to find and identify various desert ant species. We will discuss the biology of the ants we find, and emphasize how they are a critical component to desert ecosystems. 

Field Class
All levels welcome!
Desert Studies Center, Zzyzx. Picture by Desert Studies Center
Insects and Arthropods of the Eastern Mojave with Kurt Leuschner
Tuesday May 14 from 7:00pm - 8:30pm on Zoom
Friday May 17 at 4:00pm - Sunday May 19 at 12:00pm at Zzyzx

In this course students will learn about the basic anatomy of insects, and how to tell them apart from other desert arthropods. We will also review the many insect orders and families found in the East Mojave Desert region. 

Lecture/Field Class
Intermediate
Lizards and Snakes of the Eastern Mojave with Jason Wallace
Thursday May 16 from 7:00pm - 8:30pm on Zoom
Friday May 17 at 4:00pm - Sunday May 19 at 12:00pm at Zzyzx

Do you love reptiles? Do you love the desert? You are not alone. Reptiles are among the most interesting and diverse vertebrates that inhabit the desert southwest. The goal of this course is to familiarize students with the identification and natural history of the lizard and snake species found in the Eastern Mojave Desert. 

Lecture/Field Class
Intermediate
Aerial view of a dirt road and large rock formations in Indian Cove Campground. Picture by NPS/Lian Law
Sunday May 19
Desert Bath: An Immersive Experience with Cindi Anderson
12:00pm - 2:00pm at Indian Cove

This walking workshop is a twist on Forest Bathing, a practice that began in Japan in the 1990s and has quickly grown in popularity in the West. Learn about the healing powers of Nature through a fully-clothed but deeply immersive Desert Bath. Participants will bring body and mind together as they take a slow, mindful walk.

Field Class
All levels welcome!
American badger emerging from burrow in Joshua Tree National Park. Picture by NPS/Hannah Schwalbe
Saturday May 25
How to Identify Animal Burrows with Candice Weber and Kurt Leuschner
9:00am - 1:00pm at Black Rock

Have you ever taken a walk and noticed a hole in the ground and wondered what animal made it? Learn learn how to identify holes and clues that can help discern which animals are living in which holes, and put your knowledge to the test in the field. 

Lecture/Field Class
All levels welcome!
Animal tracks in the desert. Picture by NPS/Brad Sutton
Sunday May 26
Animal Tracks of Desert Dunes with Scott Heacox
8:00am - 12:00pm in Sheephole Valley Wilderness Area

Desert sands provide an excellent canvas for otherwise cryptic animals to leave their mark. Reconstruct the lives of these hidden animals using tracking. Common tracks we may observe include a variety of lizards, snakes, rodents, insects, and arachnids.

Field Class
All levels welcome!

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May Activities – Joshua Tree National Park Association
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