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



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.






























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:
*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.

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.

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.



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.