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  • Sunset at Mojave Desert in Twentynine Palms, CA

Day One: Outdoor Adventure

Enjoy blue skies, dark nights, and an otherworldly landscape in Joshua Tree National Park

Start your Joshua Tree National Park adventure at the park’s Oasis Visitor Center in 29 Palms and explore one of the many fascinating aspects of this otherworldly national park with a free, half-hour Ranger Talk, held every morning at 10:00 AM. Following the Ranger Talk head out for an easy stroll along the Oasis of Mara Nature Trail where you will discover how this natural desert oasis is the cornerstone of the Joshua Tree National Park story, and how in the presence of water, life has thrived in and around the oasis for more than 9,000-years.

If popular trails like Hidden Valley, Barker Dam, or Ryan Mountain are on your to-do list, we recommend planning your visit on a weekday, between Monday and Thursday, when you’ll find more space to yourself on the trails. We also recommend getting an early start to your day and entering through the north park entrance in 29 Palms where you can avoid the congestion and potentially long wait times at the west entrance in the town of Joshua Tree.

After an adventurous day outdoors, you’ll surely have worked up a big appetite! Check out 29 Palms diverse collection of restaurants – and enjoy a great meal after a great day outdoors. Once you’ve relaxed and refueled, we invite you to sit back and watch our dark night sky come to life!

The California desert is known for it’s stunningly dark night skies, and our community was thrilled to see Joshua Tree National Park receive International Dark Sky Park designation by the International Dark Sky Association in 2017. Be sure to spend at least one late night marveling at the stars and Milky Way while you’re visiting 29 Palms, whether it’s in the National Park, at a free, public star party at Sky’s The Limit Observatory and Nature Center, or with a private stargazing experience with the 29 Palms Astronomy Club who will bring the star party to you!

Day Two: Arts & Culture

Discover an Oasis of Murals, a thriving arts community, and a small city with a rich history!

Discover the rich history of our vibrant desert community by exploring our Oasis of Murals. The series of outdoor murals are located throughout the downtown area and illustrate the colorful history of 29 Palms, from the history of the Serrano and Chemehuevi Native America tribes, to the founding pioneers and homesteaders, to the establishment of the 29 Palms Marine Base, to a celebration of the unique flora and fauna of the beautiful Mojave Desert. Download our Oasis of Murals brochure and plan a self-guided tour!

The Mojave Desert has long since been a place of inspiration for artists and musicians, so whether you’re feeling inspired to drop in to the 29 Palms Creative Center and Gallery to paint or learn the pottery wheel, or view the latest exhibit at the 29 Palms Art Gallery, you will be impressed by the rich arts and culture of our desert community.

Continue your exploration of our city’s rich history and culture with a docent led tour of the Old Schoolhouse Museum, owned and operated by the Twentynine Palms Historical Society. Every city has its own story and history just waiting to be discovered, and there’s no better place to immerse yourself in 29 Palms history than at the Old Schoolhouse Museum.

Day Three: Road trip through the Mojave

Explore the unimaginable diversity of Mojave Trails National Monument and take a cruise along the iconic Route 66!

Spanning 1.6 million acres, the newly designed Mojave Trails National Monument is an incredible part of the California desert, and is home to beautifully rugged mountain ranges, pristine sand dunes, ancient lava flows, historic Native American trading routes and incredible WWII history, plus the longest undeveloped stretches of the iconic Route 66. Exploring Mojave Trails National Monument will require more research and planning than its neighboring Joshua Tree National Park or Mojave National Preserve so be sure to stop by the 29 Palms Visitor Center to pick up maps and travel information to help plan your day trip.

Grab lunch to-go from one of our restaurants and then head northeast on Amboy Road and make the nearby Amboy Crater National Natural Landmark your first stop in Mojave Trails.

Day Four: Discover our local hidden gems

Shop, dine, and play in downtown 29 Palms

A great way to spend the morning is to get out and explore some of the unique shops in downtown 29 Palms. You’ll discover a beautiful collection of home décor and furnishings at Habitat, a colorful collection of locally made art, gifts, and crystals at Mojave Sol, and eclectic collectibles and antiques at the Carousel of Treasures.

After a fun morning spent exploring the shops in 29 Palms, enjoy a leisurely lunch while you contemplate the many interesting ways to spend your afternoon. 29 Palms is home to some unique attractions including the high desert’s only axe throwing venue. Spend an hour or two at The Boardroom and let your competitive side shine while playing one of the many fun axe throwing games.

If quirky road side attractions peak your interest, take a short drive east on Highway 62 and visit Glass Outhouse Art Gallery. You’ll not only discover a great indoor gallery space with contemporary art exhibits, but also a fun collection of playful outdoor art displays, including one of our favorites, “Schwinn Ranch.”

Dinner and a show is great way to spend your evening in 29 Palms, and we offer some a unique take on this popular date night theme. Remember drive-in movie theaters? We’ve still got one! Smith’s Ranch Drive-In Movie Theater is one of only 18 remaining drive-in movie theaters in California, and offers double features on the big screen Thursday through Sunday, with new films every week. Another great option for the “show” part of your evening is to see a play or musical at Theatre 29, a non-profit community theatre that has been entertaining the Morongo Basin and Coachella Valley area since it opened in 1999!

And lastly, if you’re in town on Saturday, be sure to stop by the 29 Palms Farmer’s Market where you can shop fresh, locally grown produce and a wide variety of artisan goods!

Places to Stay in 29 Palms:

29 Palms Inn
29 Palms RV Resort
9 Palms Inn
America’s Best Value
Campbell House
El Rancho Dolores
Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott
Harmony Motel
Holiday Inn Express
Motel 6
Rodeway Inn & Suites
Sunnyvale Garden Suites
SureStay Plus by Best Western

+ Choose from a wide variety of short-term vacation rentals!

Join us in 29 Palms this March 31 – April 7 for International Dark Sky Week – a worldwide event hosted by the International Dark-Sky Association that celebrates the wonder of our night sky! Founded in 1988, the International Dark-Sky Association works “to preserve and protect the nighttime environment and our heritage of dark skies through environmentally responsible outdoor lighting,” and has hosted the International Dark Sky Week event since 2003.

The theme of the 2019 International Dark Sky Week is “open a window to the night” and we’ve highlighted some special opportunities to do just that this week in and around 29 Palms:

Star Party at Sky's The Limit Observatory and Nature Center in 29 Palms, CA.

Star Party: Mars and a Bright Open Cluster
Sky’s The Limit Observatory and Nature Center, 29 Palms, CA

Saturday, April 6, 2019
8:00pm – 10:00pm

The constellation Leo is near zenith (directly overhead) with bright star Regulus. To the east is M66, a bright galaxy that is 21 million light years away. Look further east and find Bootes and the brilliant globular cluster M3. It is 32,000 light years distant. To the left of the Star Regulus, look to the west for the dim constellation Cancer. You will find a great open star cluster M44, commonly called the Beehive – one of the brightest as it is only 538 light years distant. Sunset will be at 7:08pm. Prominent constellations: Leo (The Lion), Virgo (The Virgin), Bootes (The Herdsman), Hydra (The Water Snake), Cancer (The Crab). This is a free event, no registration required.

Learn more about events at Sky’s The Limit Observatory and Nature Center
Find lodging in 29 Palms

Dark Sky Astronomy Programs at the Mojave National Preserve near 29 Palms, CA.

Dark Sky Astronomy Program
Mojave National Preserve

Saturday, April 6, 2019
8:00pm – 9:00pm

Join the Dark Sky Ranger to view the magnificent night sky and learn about the importance of the dark sky at the Mojave National Preserve. Meet at 8:00pm at Site #1 at Hole in the Wall Campground, and be sure to bring some warm layers, a flashlight, and a camp chair. This event is free and does not require registration.

Learn more about astronomy programs at the Mojave National Preserve
Find lodging in 29 Palms

Designated as an International Dark Sky Park by the IDA, Joshua Tree National Park offers visitors to 29 Palms an incredible way to experience the night sky.

Starry Starry Night Evening Program
Joshua Tree National Park
Thursday, April 4, 2019
8:00pm – 8:45pm

Celebrate International Dark Sky Week in an International Dark Sky Park! Join a Park Ranger for a tour of the universe as seen from Joshua Tree National Park. Meet at the Indian Cove Amphitheater, near Site #40 at the end of Indian Cove Road. Bring warm layers, water and snacks, and consider carpooling as parking is limited.

If you have explored Joshua Tree National Park at night you have surely marveled at all those stars, but did you know it’s an official International Dark Sky Park?

Designated as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association on August 12, 2017, Joshua Tree National Park boasts some of the darkest night skies in southern California! Defined by the IDA as “a land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment,” Joshua Tree National Park joins 19 other national parks with Dark Sky Park status, and offers visitors an unforgettable experience under the stars.

Learn more about stargazing in Joshua Tree National Park
Find lodging in 29 Palms

Save the Date – the 5th annual Night Sky Festival is taking place in 29 Palms on Saturday, September 21, 2019!

Join us in 29 Palms this fall as we celebrate of our stunning night skies! From astronomy lectures and solar telescope viewing, to guided walks with docents and astronomy themed crafts and activities for youth, to the evening star party with astronomers and 20+ telescopes, this festival offers fun for the whole family! Located just outside the north entrance of Joshua Tree National Park, Sky’s The Limit Observatory and Nature Center hosts the majority of the Night Sky Festival events, and will open ticket sales in the summer. Learn more about the Night Sky Festival, and book your stay in 29 Palms today.



Recently during my tour of the Mojave Desert in southern California, I was captivated by the natural landscape of this mysterious desert, with its open vistas of rugged wilderness that gives you the privilege to experience total freedom of space when camping or hiking. The authenticity of the Mojave’s landscape enhances the natural beauty of the southern California terrain. I am an adventurous traveler, one that loves exploring the mystery of a place, and discovering the hidden treasures of a destination. During my travel to the Mojave Desert, I stumbled upon a rural desert city, called Twentynine Palms.  

Twentynine Palms is a natural wonderland of desert wilderness and rich cultural history which is vividly captured with historical murals that are displayed throughout the city.  The city of Twentynine Palms I learned is not only the home of the popular and historical headquarters of Joshua Tree National Park, it is also an official gateway community to Mojave Trails National Monument and Route 66, which to my delight is a short drive of about (49 minutes), north of Hwy 62 via Amboy Road.  A key feature that I noted of the Mojave Trails National Monument is that it connects the Mojave National Preserve with Joshua Tree National Park, which “ensures the biological connectivity of this landscape, while preserving traditional uses, such as hunting and off-highway vehicle recreation.” (BLM website)

Welcome to Mojave Trails National Monument

The Mojave Trails National Monument was designated in 2016, and is home to several significant natural treasures, such as the longest remaining undeveloped stretch of the original and historic Route 66, which takes you to the old world, as you discover vintage road signs, iconic neon signs, historical highway motels, restaurants, and motor courts.

Moreover, you will find in the city of Barstow, California many street murals depicting and celebrating the iconic Route 66. This iconic route further takes you into the historical mining and ghost towns of southern California, such as Amboy and Calico.  

Route 66 has been popularly referred to as the “mother road” because it was originally used by many Americans as travel path, for vacations to California. It was at one time the link for the United States across the rocky mountain divide to the Pacific Ocean.  It was also a travel path that was used by many to  migrate to different parts of the US, hence it  “celebrates the legacy and resilience of the American people, more significantly connects you to the essence of the American spirit.

Significantly, the romance and nostalgia of Route 66 is immortalized in popular culture, in movies, songs, such as Bobby Troup’s (1946) hit, “Get Your Kicks on Route 66”, and the (1960s), Route 66 television show. The fascinating discovery for me on this tour was the Amboy Crater National Natural Landmark. An adventurer’s treat, a volcanic cinder cone in the middle of the Mojave Desert that resembles a lonely isolated mountain.

Visit 29 Palms and discover the iconic Route 66 to Amboy Crater Natural National Landmark in the Mojave Trails National Monument

Located 1.5 miles south of Route 66, and 55 minutes from the city of Twentynine Palms, Amboy Crater stands at 250 feet tall, 1,500 feet in diameter, and was formed by ash and cinders. Situated on one of the youngest volcanic field in the United States with its last documented eruption taking place 10,000 years ago, Amboy Crater is truly a geological wonder.

You can hike the trail on the west of the cinder cone, with the trail taking you to an opening where it seems that a one time a violent volcanic eruption ruptured the crater wall. CalWild provides a great description of the crater, explaining “inside, of the 250-foot-high crater contains two lava dams, which have formed small lava lakes. These are now flat in general appearance, covered with light colored clay, creating the impression of miniature “dry lakes.” Beyond the crater lies 24 square miles of lava flow, that has features of lava lakes, collapsed lava tubes and sinks, spatter cones, and massive flows of basalt.”

By hiking up to the 1,508-foot-tall center rim you will be rewarded with an awesome view that reveals an epic desert landscape. I recommend hiking the Amboy Crater trail in spring or early fall, when temperatures are cooler.

Visit 29 Palms and discover pristine sand dunes in the Mojave Desert, California

My partner, being the romantic he is, planned the last part of the tour towards the end of the day, so that I would experience the bold, brilliant, colors of the sun setting in the Mojave Desert.

As the evening progressed into the night, to my delight, I was taken to the exotic Kelso Dunes, located in the Mojave National Preserve. The night was lit up by the bright, sultry full moon. The light of the moon guided us in our hike to the top of the dunes. Once at the top you will experience panoramic views of the surrounding dunes and peaks, a picture perfect sea of sand that awakens all your senses. As we lay on the sand, we could feel the stillness of the night, the cool grains of the sand on our feet, the refreshing cool breeze of early fall silently fanning us. The Kelso Dunes have an energy of peace and tranquility that awakened my soul to experience the harmony of natures wonderland. 

According to popular belief, the dunes are noted for their singing.
 Jennifer Morrell describes “Kelso is one of a few acoustic dunes that produce a squeaking or booming sound as sand grains compress and slip over one another. A silica coating on the grains that helps them stick together also resonates when they are moved.”

Please note: that the wind and the sand continuously changes the outline of the dunes, this makes navigating the trail difficult, hence there is no permeant hike trail to the very top of the dunes.  Furthermore, driving through the Mojave Preserve to the Kelso Sand Dunes can be difficult, and requires planning and navigation research.

For more information on these destinations, visit:
Mojave Trails National Monument
Amboy Crater Natural National Landmark, Mojave Trails National Monument
Route 66, Mojave Trails National Monument
Mojave National Preserve
Kelso Sand Dunes

Ash Maharaj is an Advisory Board member for the 29 Palms Tourism Business Improvement District, and owner of the iconic Harmony Motel. Visit Ash’s blog to read more on her adventures in the Mojave Desert.

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