Halloween Spooktacular – October 27, 2018

On Saturday, October 27th the Hi-Desert Nature Museum and the Town of Yucca Valley Recreation Department will host a Halloween Spooktacular at the Yucca Valley Community Center from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Participants of all ages are invited for an afternoon of Halloween-themed games and activities including a haunted house, face painting, photo booth, costume contest, a giant inflatable obstacle course, spooky crafts and a Trick-or-Treat booth! All activities are free to the public.

Kids, get dressed in your Halloween best and enter the costume contest! Awards will be presented in four age divisions: ages 0-3 years, 4-7 years, 8-11 years and 12+/group entries. Ages 11 and under will compete for awards in four categories: Best in Show, Scariest, Funniest and Most Original. Ages 12 and over along with group entries will compete for a single Best in Show award. This is a family friendly event so G-rated costumes only, no gory or inappropriate costumes please. Registration is accepted in the Yucca Room at the event from 1:00 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. Space is limited and judging begins at 3:00 p.m.

Download Costume Contest Rules here.

Giant Rock Round Table – October 18, 2018

Please join us at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum for an informal round table get together. Karyl Newman (Exhibit Project Director) will share some of her research about the fascinating and sometimes bizarre    history of Giant Rock.  Please bring your own memories, stories,      adventures, photographs, videos, etc. to share with the group and/or possible inclusion in the upcoming “Our Giant Rock: a Community  Touchstone in the Mojave” digital exhibit at the museum.






























Chamber Music at the Museum – October 13 & 14, 2018

We are pleased to announce the 3rd  Chamber Music concert of the 2018 season at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum on Saturday, October 13 at 7:00 p.m. and on Sunday, October 14 at 2:00 p.m. for a Matinee.   During this concert series, titled “Musical Potpourri,” the Encelia Chamber Ensemble will be joined by local ensembles “Mojave Brass” and the “Harmonic Winds” to perform some of the ensembles’ favorite pieces.   Check out what the musicians have in store here:  Chamber Oct 2018 program.
Tickets are available for a donation of $15 for standard seating and $20 for preferred seating.*  Tickets can be purchased at the following locations:
Yucca Valley Community Center,  Monday – Thursday, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Hi-Desert Nature Museum,  Wednesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
OR online:  https://townofyuccavalley.maxgalaxy.net/Home.aspx
*All proceeds will benefit the Hi-Desert Nature Museum.

Brown Bag Lunch Lecture – September 20, 2018

Preserving Habitat for Rockhounds in the Mojave Desert

presented by Lisbet Thoresen

The Mojave Desert attracts millions of visitors every year. Its geological features are unique in the world, with the symmetrical volcanic cinder cones, lava flows and lava tubes of Pisgah and Amboy craters among the best representations of their kind. The solitude and beauty found in its unspoiled landscapes resonates in a deeply personal way for every individual, but it has another very special significance to casual collecting hobbyists, also known as rockhounds. Since the mid-19th century, when they were called prospectors, to the present day, rockhounds have come to California’s deserts in search of collectable minerals. The thrill of discovering, carving, and displaying a self-collected rock or crystal is a rockhound’s idea of heaven, and the Mojave Desert is world-renowned for the quality and variety of materials found there – feldspar crystals, fluorites, geodes, obsidian, opalites, petrified reeds and palm root, and quartz varieties, including beautifully colored and patterned agates and jaspers. This presentation showcases some of the Mojave’s collectable minerals and historical desert localities where they are found. An overview is also presented on the changing landscape of land use policy that increasingly threatens to curtail access and accommodation of rockhounding and other low-impact recreational activities.


Lisbet Thoresen is a rockhound advocate of preserving recreational opportunities for casual amateur collecting, or rockhounding, on public lands. Since 2014, she has worked on public awareness campaigns on land use policies that increasingly threaten access to collecting areas or accommodation of hobby collecting on federally managed lands, primarily in Southern California’s deserts. A key consideration in her efforts is to engage in constructive dialogue with other stakeholder groups over balancing conservation and cultural values with acceptable uses. She is currently public lands representative for San Diego Mineral & Gem Society, Inc. (SDMG) and Chair of the Public Lands Advisory Committee (PLAC) ­– South, for the California Federation of Mineralogical Societies, Inc. (CFMS). With 770 members, SDMG is the largest among 110 member societies of CFMS, which in turn, is one of seven regional affiliates of the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies, Inc. (AFMS). In aggregate, AFMS represents about 51,000 members nationwide. In addition to her advocacy on behalf of rockhounds, Lisbet is a graphic artist and independent scholar specialized in gem archaeology of the ancient Classical world. Previously, from 1983 to 2000, she was a conservator of Greek and Roman antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu and Los Angeles.

Lecture Poster

Bring your lunch, bring your friends, or just bring yourself to our Brown Bag Lunch Lecture Series once a month.  Speakers will present topics of special interest for high desert residents. The lectures start at 12:00 p.m. Admission is $ 5  or free for Museum Members/Sponsors.  Beverages will be served.

California A to Z September 6 – October 27, 2018

This Exhibit is curated and produced by the La Quinta Museum.

La Quinta Museum

Please visit the La Quinta Museum – another small Museum with great exhibits!

77885 Avenida Montezuma,

La Quinta, CA 92253

Toys – The Inside Story May 24 – September 1, 2018

Peek inside some popular toys! Explore linkages, cams, pulleys and circuits. Steady your hands and win at Operation®! Activate different electrical circuits. Discover what makes Jack jump. Crank gears and make toys spin! Find out which mechanisms make toys move, and how!

This exhibit was produced and is traveled by the Sciencenter, Ithaca NY.

© 2008 Jon Reis Photo

Toys – The Inside Story Video

California Humanities Grant Awarded to the Hi-Desert Nature Museum


Image from the Dyer Family Collection

November 15, 2018 ~ 12 p.m.

A Suicide Bombing at Giant Rock 

presented by Mike Digby

In the summer of 1942, a fifty-seven year old engineer and local eccentric by the name of Frank Critzer was known for two things: as the owner/operator of the Giant Rock airstrip in Landers in the Mojave Desert, and as the man who lived alone – under a rock. The Giant Rock.  During a criminal investigation Critzer caused a quantity of dynamite, stored in his home, to explode.  Critzer was killed immediately while the three deputies suffered non-fatal wounds. But why?

This lecture will focus on the forensic evaluation and post-blast investigation as well as  address the many rumors and inconsistencies about this most bizarre case.

Mike Digby retired as a detective/bomb technician after  serving 34 years with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and seven years with the United States Army.  He has provided bomb training to police and military organizations around the world. He has also authored two books: The Bombs, Bombers and Bombings of Los Angeles (2016) and A Bombing in the Wilshire-Pico District (2018).

Download poster here.




The project was  made possible with support from California Humanities,

a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Visit www.calhum.org.




Giant Rock Round Table

October 18, 2018 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum
Please join us at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum for an informal round table get together. Project Director Karyl Newman will share some of her research about the fascinating and sometimes bizarre history of Giant Rock. Please bring your own memories, stories, adventures, photographs, videos, etc. to share with the group or possible inclusion in the upcoming “Our Giant Rock: a Community Touchstone in the Mojave” digital exhibit at the museum.
This is a free event and light refreshments will be provided.
Download flyer: Round-Table-Invite.pdf.


October 6, 2018 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at Giant Rock

In an effort to keep the Giant Rock area pristine the Hi-Desert Nature Museum will celebrate National Public Lands Day with Karyl Newman and Blight Sites, the BLM Barstow Field Office, the Mojave Desert Land Trust, the Landers Community Assoc., and all other volunteers who love their public lands. Please register here.
Join us for stories and stewardship at Giant Rock. Project experts Mike Digby, a retired bomb squad detective from Los Angeles and Daniel McCarthy, Anthropologist and former Director of the Cultural Resources Management Department for the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians will be available for information and questions.
Download flyer. Giant Rock Clean Up Invite

“Our Giant Rock : A Community Touchstone in the Mojave.”

California Humanities has awarded a project grant for “Our Giant Rock : A Community Touchstone in the Mojave.” The Hi-Desert Nature Museum partnered with Karyl Newman, founder of dehsart and producer of “Manifesting Giant Rock” to bring you programming and a digital exhibit about the infamous Giant Rock. Stay tuned for project updates over the next two years. Check out the List of other grant recipients here.

Brown Bag Lunch Lecture – August 16, 2018


presented by Stephenie Slahor

The rusty barrel drum winch and cogs that operated the mine shaft elevator of the long abandoned Lost Horse Mine site in Joshua Tree National Park.

California, Nevada and Arizona have rich mining histories, but mining in the old days was a unique, dangerous and difficult job.  This lecture looks at what life was like for miners, the work they did, how they lived, and how mining helped open the West for settlers.

Lecture Poster

Stephenie Slahor holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree and a Juris Doctor degree. Her career spans the fields of journalism, law, administration and education. She has traveled extensively and has lectured and taught at many colleges, universities, and museums, including here at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum.

Bring your lunch, bring your friends, or just bring yourself to our Brown Bag Lunch Lecture Series once a month.  Speakers will present topics of special interest for high desert residents. The lectures start at 12:00 p.m. Admission is $ 5  or free for Museum Members/Sponsors.  Beverages will be served.

Expanded Opening Hours


The Hi-Desert Nature Museum has extended its hours! We are now open Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m. Enjoy great exhibits, air-conditioning and friendly staff.   We are looking forward to seeing you!

Family Fun Day – July 28, 2018