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Joshua Tree National Park

Just south of Twentynine Palms off Highway 62

Oasis Visitor Center/Oasis of Mara

74485 National Park Drive

Twentynine Palms, CA 92277

(760) 367-5500


Site of the spring that watered the original 29 palms. Information and exhibits.

Joshua Tree Visitor Center

6554 Park Blvd.

Joshua Tree, CA 92256

(760) 366-1855


Spiky, writhing Joshua trees, like something out of Dr. Seuss, gave this park their name. Legend has it that Mormons heading west called them after the biblical figure Joshua because of their upraised branches, like
supplicating arms. But Joshua Tree is no
one-tree destination: It’s so renowned for its diverse vegetation that its original suggested name was “Desert Plants National Park.” It’s a great place for hiking, camping, bird watching, bicycling and rock climbing, and there are Ranger-led programs as well as historical
sites. The Desert Institute offers outdoor field classes — www.joshuatree.org/desert-institute. The Mojave National Preserve links Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Parks.

Sky’s the Limit Observatory
& Nature Center

Twentynine Palms, CA 92277

(760) 367-7222


Armchair and observational astronomy under a sweep of star-studded sky. Zoology and geology presentations too, and star parties. Rent a telescope and marvel.

Historic Dale Mining District

Fifteen miles southeast of Twentynine Palms


Reports of gold in the Pinto Mountains pulled in miners as early as 1881, and by 1898 as many as 3,000 were there, trying to strike it rich. But a water well, not gold, determined the location of Dale City, and ore was carried there for milling until the precious liquid started being pumped to the mines in 1899. That doomed the town, which then relocated closer to the shafts. It was abandoned when the two biggest mines, the Supply and the OK, closed in 1917. Today, the Virginia Dale Mining District is popular with recreational miners.

Amboy Crater National
Natural Landmark

45 minutes northeast of Twentynine Palms off historic U.S. 66, in the Mojave Desert.


Back when old U.S. Route 66 was the way West, generations of travelers made the steep and rocky hike to the top of Amboy Crater to say they’d climbed a (now-extinct) volcano whose bubbling lava once broke through its the west side to flow over 24 square miles. The cone itself is about 6,000 years old, but the Bureau of Land Management says the last eruption could have been as recent as 500 years ago.

Keys “Desert Queen” Ranch Tours

Joshua Tree National Park

Twentynine Palms, Calif.

(760) 367-5555


“Living History” tours conducted by the National Park Service give the flavor of life in the early 1900s for desert pioneers Bill and Frances Keys. Reservations recommended. On the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, and a designated U.S. Historic District.

Spring desert wildflowers

Joshua Tree National Park

74485 National Park Drive

Twentynine Palms, CA 92277

(760) 367-5500

From February through May, wildflowers carpet parts of the desert around Twentynine Palms, Joshua Tree National Park, the Mojave Desert and the Mojave National Preserve. Joshua Tree National Park offers wildflower walks.
Visitors should call the park for dates and times. Wildflower updates are available as well at Joshua Tree National Park’s website, www.nps.gov/jotr, or that of the Mojave National Preserve, www.nps.gov/moja.

Mitchell Caverns Natural Preserve

Essex, CA  92332

(760) 928-2586


These three limestone caves in Providence Mountains State Recreation Area, in the Mojave Desert off Interstate 40, date from the Pleistocene and are famed for their stalactites, stalagmites, helictites, lily pads, draperies, curtains and popcorn. The caverns are named after Jack Mitchell, who owned and operated them as a tourist attraction and rest stop for 20 years until they were purchased by the state in 1954. Two are connected by a man-made tunnel, but the third is too dangerous for public access, though sometimes it’s used to train cave rescue teams.

Historic Pioneertown

Four miles north of Yucca Valley on
Pioneertown Road

Yucca Valley, CA 92268

(760) 367-1972


In 1946, some of the most famous Western actors of the time — Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Bud Abbott of Abbott & Costello fame, villain Dick Curtis and the vocal group Sons of the Pioneers — built a movie set where the actors could live while filming cowboy movies. Old West re-enactments are staged on weekends from April to October, and Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneer Palace is famed for its barbecue, live music and dancing: www.pappyandharriets.com

Hi-Desert Nature Museum

57116 29 Palms Highway

Yucca Valley, CA 92284

(760) 369-7212


A free family-oriented operation with displays that educate residents and visitors about the desert. In 2012, the museum highlighted regional reptiles, and it’s also a center for scorpion research. Go on: Rent the scorpion exhibit overnight. You know you want to.

The Integratron

2477 Belfield Blvd.

Landers, CA 92285

(760) 364-3126


The Integratron, called the only all-wood, acoustically perfect sound chamber in the U.S., sprang from the convictions of aeronautical engineer and test pilot George Van Tassel, who picked its location based on theories involving the Earth’s magnetic field and the site’s relationship to the Great Pyramid in Egypt and nearby Giant Rock, thought to be the world’s largest freestanding boulder. As the website puts it, the design itself is “based on the design of Moses’ Tabernacle, the writings of Nikola Tesla and telepathic directions from extraterrestrials.” The Integratron has figured in numerous publications and shows, including The New York Times and The Discovery Channel.

Gubler Orchids & Orchid Festival

2200 Belfield Blvd.

Landers, CA 92285

(760) 364-2282


Among the world’s top orchid growers, Gubler has more than 155,000 square feet of greenhouses devoted to orchid production, with a sideline in carnivorous plants. October’s annual Orchid Festival, with wine and cheese tastings, greenhouse tours and orchid classes, draws throngs.

Kelso Dunes & Kelso Train Station

Mojave National Preserve

(760) 252-6108



The Kelso Dunes are a 45-square-mile sandbox with a unique property: They sing. Basso profundo. Hikers who climb to the top of the dunes and slide slowly down generate a low-frequency audible rumble that can be felt. The Kelso Depot Visitor Center, built in 1924 by the Union Pacific Railroad, is a renovated historic train station filled with exhibits, information, an art gallery and bookstore, an orientation film, a lunch counter, restrooms, water and a picnic area.


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