Museum Lecture – February 28, 2019

Baskets of the Cahuilla and Serrano Indians:

Their Manufacture, Materials and Uses 

 presented by Daniel McCarthy, M.S.

Native Americans have lived in this region for thousands of years prior to the arrival of Europeans.  Baskets are perhaps one of the oldest artifacts used continually throughout much of prehistory and that continue to be made today.  An overview will be presented about the materials use to make them, their age and uses.  Join us in learning more as we discover our past.


Image result for daniel mccarthy archaeologistDaniel McCarthy, M.S., Anthropology, has worked at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Joshua Tree National Park, San Bernardino National Forest and throughout Southern California compiling photographic inventories of the rock art of this region. Formerly he was the Director of the Cultural Resources Management Department for four years with the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and spent 18 years on the San Bernardino National Forest as archaeologist and Tribal Relations Program Manager. His research interests include desert archaeology, Native American uses of plants, aboriginal trail systems, material culture of the Cahuilla and Serrano Indians and recording rock art.

Bring your friends, or just bring yourself to our 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.


UPDATE:  Due to weather conditions and road closures, this lecture, originally scheduled for

Thursday, February 21st, has been rescheduled for Thursday, February 28th.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

Chamber music at the Museum – February 16 & 17, 2019

We are pleased to announce the 1st  Chamber Music concert of the 2019 season at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum on Saturday, February 16 at 7:00 p.m. and on Sunday, February 17 at 2:00 p.m. for a Matinee.   During this concert series, titled “A Musical Journey through Space and Time,” the Encelia Chamber Ensemble will be joined by several soloists.
Tickets are available for a donation of $15 for standard seating and $20 for preferred seating.*

Brown Bag Lunch Lecture – January 17, 2019

The Changing Wildlife and Environment of Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave Desert

Lori Hargrove, PhD, Research Ecologist, San Diego Natural History Museum


Joseph Grinnell and his colleagues at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley, documented the fauna of Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave National Preserve through site exploration primarily during the late 1930s to the early 1950s. Since 2016, the Department of Birds and Mammals at the San Diego Natural History Museum has been resurveying these same sites, using the historic surveys as a standard for gauging more recent changes. In Joshua Tree, the main theme of change is the decrease of many species associated with chaparral and pinyon/juniper woodland, paralleling the decrease in these habitats wrought by drought and fire, but a few species have recently colonized Joshua Tree.  Join Dr. Lori Hargrove for this very informative lecture and see which species of birds and mammals are moving in and which have left the Morongo Basin.


Bio:  Dr. Hargrove first joined the San Diego Natural History Museum as a volunteer in 1995, where she became fascinated with birds and their habitat relationships. She went on to receive her PhD in Biology at UC Riverside, where she won numerous research awards. A focus of her study has been on elevational shifts of bird species and the mechanisms involved, including response to fire and climate change. She is now leading a variety of ecological research projects for the museum, including the NSF-funded Grinnell Resurvey Project.


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.

A Great Frontier Odyssey —- November 1 – December 22, 2018

Underground Village

Arkansas Pilgrims

After the opening of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869, the public clamored for images of the newly accessible American West. The Harper Brother’s publishing firm in New York sought to capitalize on this, and chose Jules Tavernier and Paul Frenzeny to provide images of the frontier. The intrepid men were skilled at depicting newsworthy places or events that favored the plight of the common man. Coupled with their artistic and journalistic talent and keen powers of observation, they were a powerful team; Tavernier created each engraving’s watercolor painting before handing it off to Frenzeny, who added newsworthy details and drew the scene in pencil on wood blocks.

A Great Frontier Odyssey: Sketching the American West is curated by Dr. Claudine Chalmers and traveled by Exhibit Envoy.

Brown Bag Lunch Lecture – December 20, 2018 – 12 p.m. – Free

A Brief History of Christmas Carols and a Short Fun Sing-Along Concert

with Stefanie Ritter, Vanessa Cantù and a special guest


Every year the museum takes a look at one of our favorite holiday customs at its origin and development over time.  With the season in full swing it is time to put an ear towards music.

How good of a King was Wenceslas?  Who spent Christmas in Beverly Hills? Why do we sing spring carols in winter? 

Myths and stories surround many of our beloved Christmas  carols.  Learn some interesting and amusing facts about these songs during this entertaining lecture.  Join in and sing along with some popular tunes with live cello and recorder accompaniment.

Bring your 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.   Beverages will be servedThis lecture is free for the holidays.


Santa Visit, Craft Faire, Snow Play Day – December 1, 2018

Enjoy a holiday wonderland at the Yucca Valley Community Center!  SHOP FOR UNIQUE GIFTS at the annual Holiday Craft Faire featuring all handmade items by talented local artisans. Win Door prizes and enjoy holiday shopping!

 Bring your camera for that SPECIAL PICTURE WITH SANTA at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum.  Drop off your LETTER TO SANTA in the special mailbox!

 Holiday themed KIDS’ GAMES & ACTIVITIES!

 Ages: All

Date: Saturday, December 1

Time: 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Location: Community Center and

Hi-Desert Nature Museum



Closed for Thanksgiving Holiday

The Hi-Desert Nature Museum will be closed on Thanksgiving Day (November 22, 2018) and the Day after Thanksgiving (November 23, 2018). The Museum will be open on Saturday (November 24, 2018).

We wish everybody a great Thanksgiving!


Brown Bag Lunch Lecture – November 15, 2018 ~ 12 noon

A Suicide Bombing at Giant Rock

Image from the Dyer Family Collection

Image from the Dyer Family Collection

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).

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. Download flyer here.

The project was  made possible with support from California Humanities,

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


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.