Most visitor centers and the Desert Institute will be closed for the duration of the government shutdown. The Joshua Tree Visitor Center is open.

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Special Programs


Desert Institute

Spring 2019 Catalog

Wonderland of Rocks

Wonderland of Rocks | Photo by NPS/Hannah Schwalbe | Public Domain | Source

A program just for you

Whatever your interest in Joshua Tree National Park, we can design a custom educational program to be a perfect fit for you or your group. Contact us at (760) 367-5539(760) 367-5539 or desertinstitute@joshuatree.org for more information.

If your group, large or small, is searching for a special Joshua Tree National Park experience tailored to your interests, the Desert Institute will design an educational class expert instruction just for you. We’ll ensure that the activity level and optional field component will perfectly match your needs for one-day or multi-day excursions.

Day with a Desert Naturalist

Learn the secrets of Joshua Tree National Park in an all-day field class with a desert naturalist. Groups will explore the unique landscape of the park focusing on an area of interest to them. Common topics to be covered are: geology, cultural history, flora, and ecology found in the vast valleys, rock mazes, desert cactus gardens, and Joshua tree forests. Most programs cover eight miles at a moderate pace with uneven terrain and moderate elevation gain. A “sample” Day with a Desert Naturalist could include Discover the Wonderland of Rocks.

The Wonderland of Rocks is a large labyrinth of granite formations and meandering corridors. It’s an easy place to get lost, but it’s also full of secret, picture-postcard settings, panoramic vistas, and any number of natural surprises. Spend an enjoyable day hiking and scrambling through this rare place, feeling the rough texture of its timelessness underfoot and in the fingertips. More than just a day of outdoor adventure, this Desert Institute hike includes introductory instruction in how the Wonderland formed, why it looks the way it does, and how this unique environment helps support a diverse and interesting community of plants and animals. Come prepared to hike seven to ten miles, depending on conditions, with occasional stops for rest, lunch and teachable moments. The route is cross-country and requires some scrambling and rockhopping, none of it extended or technical.

Sunrise or Sunset Photographic Workshops with a Master Photographer

Let us show you where and how to take stunning sunrise or sunset images in Joshua Tree National Park! We can create a customized program to spend four hours in the morning or evening photographing the iconic boulders and Joshua trees. This workshop is perfect for those photographers looking to improve on composition and creating unique and original imagery. Working with our instructors will help you make sense of the landscape and begin to understand how to make effective images in this truly bizarre and wonderful terrain. If you’re just a beginner, no problem! This workshop will provide you with beginning instruction in landscape photography, filter use, and sunset or sunrise silhouettes.

Program Pricing

Party Size Program Length Price
1 - 6 People Half Day $300
1 - 6 People Full Day $500
7+ People Contact Us