Back to Top

Field Classes

Desert Institute

Fall 2019 Catalog

Desert Institute Class on South Astrodome

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

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.

Fall 2019

Fall 2019 Catalog

Free Program

Date Class Instructor(s) Outline
November 16 Citizen Science: Rock Art Recording Workshop Daniel McCarthy PDF

“How-To” Courses

Date Class Instructor(s) Outline
September 15 “How-To” Identify Animal Burrows Candice Weber PDF
October 6 Full“How-To” Survive in the Desert Kelly Crawford PDF
October 26 - 27 CampingCampfire Cuisine with Chef Tanya Petrovna Chef Tanya Petrovna PDF

Natural Science Courses

Date Class Instructor(s) Outline
September 21 Bighorn Sheep in Joshua Tree National Park Mark Jorgensen PDF
September 27 - 29 CreditInsects and Arthropods of the Morongo Basin Kurt Leuschner PDF
September 29 CreditDesert Snakes: Mystery and Intrigue William Hayes PDF
October 4 - 6 FullCreditNewBirds of the Mojave Desert Kurt Leuschner PDF
October 18 - 20 CreditNewCampingGeology and Geomorphology of Death Valley Alessandro Grippo PDF
November 2 FullNew FormatGeology of the San Andreas Fault Ted Reeves PDF
November 2 - 3 CreditGeology: Creation of Joshua Tree Landscape Tor Lacy PDF
November 23 - 24 CreditBiological Soil Crusts of Joshua Tree National Park Nicole Pietrasiak PDF
December 7 Geology & Cultural History of Cottonwood Spring Ted Reeves PDF
December 7 - 8 Desert Invertebrates: Microscopy Primer Paul DeLey PDF

Guided Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park

Date Class Instructor(s) Outline
November 9 Explore Crown Prince Lookout Kevin Powell PDF
November 16 Discover the Wonderland of Rocks Kevin Powell PDF
December 7 Summit Monument Peak Kevin Powell PDF
December 14 Explore Queen Mountain West Kevin Powell PDF

Cultural Science Courses

Date Class Instructor(s) Outline
October 26 - 27 Archaeology of Joshua Tree National Park Daniel McCarthy PDF
November 2 Hike to Samuelson’s Rocks Lew Kingman PDF

Creative Arts Courses

Date Class Instructor(s) Outline
August 31 FullKeys Ranch Nightscape Photography Workshop Scott Klinger PDF
September 28 FullField Sketching for Non Artists Fran Calvert PDF
October 5 Capturing Joshua Tree Landscapes with Acrylics Janis Commentz PDF
October 19 NewDrawing the Natural World With Charcoal and Pastel Monica L. Mahoney PDF
October 19 - 20 Night Sky Photography Dennis Mammana PDF
November 1 - 3 NewCampingMastering Landscape Photography Ralph Nordstrom PDF
November 9 NewWatercolor Painting: Exploring a Sense of Place Monica L. Mahoney PDF
November 23 Photographing the Hi-Desert Craig Fucile PDF
December 7 NewWinter Light: Photographing Desert Preserves Craig Fucile PDF

Women's Programs

Date Class Instructor(s) Outline
October 11 - 13 FullNew FormatCampingBackpacking for Women in Mission Creek Preserve Pam Kersey + Robin Balch PDF
November 16 - 17 CancelledWomen’s “Get Away” Weekend Gabriella Moreno + Caroline Amberson 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