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

‘You’re not taking me out of here alive’

Retired bomb squad man takes new look at Giant Rock legend

Please check out the article in the Hi-Desert Star from November 16, 2018

Click here for link.

‘You’re not taking me out of here alive’


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.





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

Brown Bag Lunch Lecture – July 19, 2018

Be FRUITFUL and MULTIPLY – The reproductive  Life of Insects

The reproductive lives of insects are as    diverse and interesting as the critters are themselves. Carnivorous children turn into vegetarian grown ups. Children are orphaned. Fathers are beheaded, mothers perfumed – everything is possible.



Family Fun Day – July 28, 2018

Visit the GIANT TOY Arcade at this TOY-themed Family Fun Day! Enjoy a wide variety of games and craft activities for all ages as well as face painting, a scavenger hunt and explore the amazing “Toys – The Inside Story” exhibit.  This event is FREE and will keep the whole family engaged for hours!

  • Arts & Crafts
  • Treasure Hunt
  • Face Painting & Photo Ops
  • Toys & GIANT Games


Brown Bag Lunch Lecture – June 21, 2018

Coyote Hole Canyon Surprises

By John Michael Rafter

Coyote Hole Canyon is located near Joshua Tree Village, California, and just north of the north entrance to Joshua Tree National Park.  The approximately 3,000-foot-long canyon stretches from south to north and rock art can be found on its east and west sides on granitic boulders.  John was first introduced to Coyote Hole Canyon and its rock art in 1990.  During his studies there he encountered several surprises involving its rock art, the likes of which he has not seen elsewhere.  John reports evidence of several rock art alignments with significant solar events,  including unique sunlight and shadow interactions with rock art.  Recent findings revealed even more solar alignments, and one such alignment appears to be still in observance by someone or some group as recently as 2017.

John Rafter has been interested in the study of rock art since 1975.  He became Mr. Turner’s assistant field director in the Black Canyon rock art recording project and he used his artistic talents to properly record the canyon’s rock art.  Ultimately, his study of rock art merged with his interest in archaeoastronomy, which then led him to sites he found to have astronomical connections in areas once occupied by the Luiseño and the Chemehuevi.  This also led him to a fortuitous meeting with the late Carobeth Laird, author of  “The Chemehuevis”.   John inherited over 3,500 pages of Mrs. Laird’s ethnographic notes that contained rare information on the Chemehuevi’s vast knowledge of astronomy.  .  Since 1981, John has been one of the guest speakers at the San Diego Rock Art symposium, all on the subject of his many archaeoastronomical findings.

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.

Chamber Music at the Museum June 9 & 10, 2018


Tickets are available for a donation of $15 for standard seating and $20 for preferred seating.*

Tickets can be purchased online,

at the Yucca Valley Community Center Monday – Thursday, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

or at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum Thursday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.,

Having trouble signing up online?  Click here:  How to sign up online

*All proceeds will benefit the Hi-Desert Nature Museum.