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Field Classes

Desert Institute

Spring 2020 Catalog

Desert Institute Class on South Astrodome

Desert Institute Class on South Astrodome | Photo by NPS/Robb Hannawacker | Public Domain | Source

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Choosing a Field Class

The Desert Institute offers classes for adult learners in cultural history, natural science, survival skills, desert naturalist studies, women’s programs, citizen science, and creative arts. All programs are taught by expert instructors who provide a personal and enjoyable learning experience on these educational adventures.

Before registering, please take the time to review our General Class Info and download the Enrollment Attachments, that contain pertinent information about your class and Joshua Tree National Park. Please print and fill out the Participant Agreement. You can bring the completed form to the class.

If you are a member of JTNPA, OSHER, or PINE you will get a $10 discount off every Desert Institute class. If you are not a member you can become one here.

Spring 2020

Spring 2020 Catalog

"How-To" Courses

Date Class Instructor(s) Outline
February 22 - 23 Full“How-To” Navigate with Map & Compass Misha Askren PDF
March 7 NewHow Not to Get Lost and a Moonlight Hike Amanda Lopez PDF
March 21 - 22 CreditNewCampingInner and Outer Landscape Retreat Caryn Davidson + Charlotte Burns PDF
April 18 - 19 NewCampingWilderness Cooking School: Campsite Cooking Alexis Grinbold + Scott Klinger + Lew Kingman PDF

Natural Science Courses

Date Class Instructor(s) Outline
March 7 Wildflower Wanderings Darrell Shade PDF
March 13 - 15 CreditFlora of Joshua Tree National Park Kurt Leuschner PDF
March 14 - 15 CreditNewMosses in Motion: Desert Moss Ecology & Diversity Theresa Clark PDF
March 14 - 15 Geology of the Mojave National Preserve Ted Reeves PDF
March 20 - 22 CreditRocks & Minerals of Joshua Tree National Park Dee Trent PDF
March 21 CreditDesert Tortoise Conservation Biology Kristin Berry + Edward LaRue Jr. + Michael Vamstad + Brian Croft + Paul Delaney
March 28 - 29 CreditEcology of Joshua Tree National Park Allan Schoenherr PDF
March 28 - 29 NewProtecting Desert Watersheds at The Wildlands Conservancy’s Desert Preserves Caroline Conway PDF
April 4 Wildflower Wanderings Darrell Shade PDF
April 4 - 5 Mammal Tracking in Joshua Tree National Park Jim Lowery PDF
April 25 FullDesert Night Sky: Planets to Galaxies David Chappell PDF
April 25 Geology of the Marble Mountains Alessandro Grippo PDF
May 1 - 3 CreditBirds of Joshua Tree National Park Kurt Leuschner PDF
May 8 - 10 CreditNewBirds of the Eastern Mojave: Spring Migration Kurt Leuschner PDF
May 9 - 10 CreditCitizen Science: Phenological Monitoring in Joshua Tree National Park Monica Gorman PDF
May 15 - 17 CreditNewInsects and Arthropods of the Eastern Mojave Kurt Leuschner PDF

Cultural History Courses

Date Class Instructor(s) Outline
February 16 Rock Art of Southern California: From Palms to Pines Daniel McCarthy PDF
February 29 NewHistory and Legends of the Joshua Tree Music Scene Bruce Fessier PDF
March 8 Intaglios Along the Colorado River Daniel McCarthy PDF
March 15 Native American Plant Uses Daniel McCarthy PDF

Teacher Development Workshops

Date Class Instructor(s) Outline
April 24 - 26 CreditSTEAM Creativity Inspired by Joshua Tree National Park Mary Borobia Walls + Linda Braatz Brown PDF
May 15 - 16 CreditDemystifying the Park: Student Agency & Joshua Tree National Park Mary Borobia Walls + Jennifer May PDF

Hikes With a Naturalist

Date Class Instructor(s) Outline
February 22 Explore the Pinto Basin Sand Dunes Kevin Powell PDF
February 29 Discover the Pinto Wye Arrastra Kevin Powell PDF
March 14 NewFullHike to the Wonderland of Rocks Overlook Kevin Powell PDF
March 14 NewHike and Heal Sydney Williams PDF
March 21 NewQuail Springs Wash: Water in the Desert Kevin Powell PDF
April 18 Discover Pine City De Karlen PDF

Creative Arts Courses

Date Class Instructor(s) Outline
January 5 Route 66 Photography Workshop Sandi Wheaton PDF
January 19 Salton Sea Photography Workshop Sandi Wheaton PDF
February 22 Keys Ranch Nightscape Photography Workshop Scott Klinger PDF
February 29 - March 1 Night Sky Photography Dennis Mammana PDF
March 6 NewPhotographing Joshua Tree By Moonlight Craig Fucile PDF
March 6 - 8 Mastering Landscape Photography Ralph Nordstrom PDF
March 7 Joshua Tree Through the Lens Craig Fucile PDF
March 15 NewFullWatercolors with Bold Color and Impact Diane Morgan PDF
April 4 Capturing Joshua Tree Landscapes with Acrylics Beginning to Intermediate Skill Levels Janis Commentz PDF
May 1 FullNational Parks at Night Photography Workshop Gabriel Biderman + Matt Hill PDF
May 2 Field Sketching for Non-Artists Fran Calvert PDF
May 2 - 3 New FormatCampingDrawing the Natural World With Charcoal and Pastel Monica Lynne Mahoney PDF
May 9 - 10 New FormatCampingWatercolor Painting: Exploring a Sense of Place Monica Lynne Mahoney PDF

Cancellation Policy

If you need to cancel, contact the Desert Institute at (760) 367-5539(760) 367-5539 or at least seven days prior to the start of the course and we will process your request minus a $25 cancellation fee. No refunds, transfers, or credits will be granted if cancellation occurs within the seven day period. Please note that we cannot make any exceptions to this refund policy for any reason, including but not limited to medical reasons, illness, travel delays, personal situations, emergencies, or weather. This program depends on registration for its funding. While inconvenient, please understand that this policy enables us to sustain our programs even with last minute cancellations.


Label Description

An academic credit is available from University of California, Riverside Extension. Optional credit courses are marked by the green label. The number of units are listed with each class in the catalog. Credit fees are listed separately from non-credit fees in the catalog.


A brand new class that has been added to the current season.

New Format

A class that has been altered into a brand new format.


A class that has reached capacity. Any new registrations will be added to a waiting list.


A class that includes a camping option


A class that has been cancelled and will no longer take place