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  • Sunset at Mojave Desert in Twentynine Palms, CA

As our modern lifestyles cause us to be increasingly plugged-in to technology, it becomes more and more vital to find balance, and ways to maintain and restore our health and well-being. Taking a break from our daily, fast-paced routines helps us recharge and re-energize our senses, and while there are countless ways to consider doing so, none are as tried and true as getting outdoors for some fresh air and quality time in nature. Spending time in nature has immediate positive impacts to our lives, especially for our overall health, fitness, and wellness.

From the quiet and soothing sounds of nature, to an otherworldly landscape with fascinating flora and fauna, to commanding sunsets and night skies bursting with stars, the California Desert offers unparalleled opportunities to connect with the natural environment and recharge your senses, and 29 Palms is the perfect destination to experience it all.

Here’s three ways to improve your health, fitness, and wellness in 29 Palms:

1. Hike your way to wellness

From feeling the warm sunshine on your face, to taking in the calming sights and sounds of nature, to the rush of endorphins as you reach the summit, you’ll feel good about lacing up those hiking boots and hitting the trails this winter. While hiking is proven to have significant health and fitness benefits, it can also help boost your mood and improve your mental health by reducing stress and calming anxiety.

Planning a visit to 29 Palms opens up endless opportunities for hiking, climbing, and exploration in the California Desert region, and whether you’re looking to start with short and scenic trails like the 0.5-mile Indian Cove nature trail, something more moderate like Lost Horse Mine or 49 Palms Oasis, or ready to take on the challenging Ryan Mountain, Joshua Tree National Park offers nearly 300 miles of world-class hiking trails.

For those seeking solitude on the trails, plan your visit to Joshua Tree National Park during a quieter weekday, and consider exploring new areas in Mojave Trails National Monument or taking the scenic drive out to the Mojave National Preserve where you’re sure to find a nice variety of hiking trails.

2. Stop for the sunset

Few places in California offer such commanding sunsets as the Mojave Desert. There’s always been something inherently powerful and spiritual about the sunset, and with research showing the experience of sitting outside and watching the sunset enhances our overall sense of satisfaction in life, we can all benefit from making more time for sunsets.

Key’s View in Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most popular places to watch the sunset, and for a good reason. At over 5,000 feet in elevation, the lookout at Key’s View offers panoramic views of the Coachella Valley and Salton Sea, and Mount San Jacinto and Mount San Gorgonio, two of the tallest mountains in southern California.

While Key’s View can be crowded during the peak holiday periods, sunset chasers looking for an equally stunning vantage point but with less people should consider making the drive to the iconic Amboy Crater Natural Landmark in Mojave Trails National Monument, or the exotic Kelso Sand Dunes in the Mojave National Preserve. Both locations will reward you will an outstanding spot to sit and watch the dramatic shift in the colors and tones of light across the vast desert landscape.  

And let’s not forget about those sunrises; an equally powerful and calming experience for those willing to get up before dawn. Early risers seeking a quiet and serene place to watch the sunrise will want to plan a drive to Cholla Cactus Garden in Joshua Tree National Park, where the rewarding east facing views and picture perfect vantage point offer an incredible view of the sun rising over the horizon.

3. Find solitude under the stars

There’s nothing like looking up at a clear night sky and getting lost in the stars. After a rejuvenating day spent outdoors in the fresh air, pull up a comfy chair, rest your legs, and spend the evening under our breathtaking dark night sky, where the shinning stars and stunning constellations will surely take your breath away.

Enhance your stargazing experience with a private star viewing party with the 29 Palms Astronomy Club who bring the telescopes and passionate astronomers to you – whether you’re in the national park or lounging on the patio at your hotel or vacation rental. If you’re looking to enjoy the night sky in a social setting, look no further than Sky’s The Limit Observatory and Nature Center who offer free public star parties every Saturday evening. Sky’s The Limit is located on Utah Trail, just outside of the north entrance of Joshua Tree National Park.

Find accommodations
Book your stay in 29 Palms where you can choose from the areas largest collection of hotels and motels, plus a wide variety of vacation rentals – all located within in minutes of the north entrance of Joshua Tree National Park.

Plan your adventure
Once you arrive, be sure to drop by the 29 Palms Visitor Center where you’ll find helpful staff, informative resources and a great collection of free road maps for Joshua Tree National Park, Mojave Trails National Monument, the Mojave National Preserve and surrounding areas. Open daily from 10:00am – 4:00pm at the corner of Hwy 62 and Desert Queen Ave in downtown 29 Palms.

Visitors to Sky’s The Limit Observatory and Nature Center’s star party on Saturday, November 16 will be treated to a very special presentation of the cosmos with guest video astronomers and astrophotographers. This free, public event is sponsored by Visit 29 Palms, and will begin around 5:30pm and last approximately two hours.

Jim O’Connor from the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association will be joined by Peter Ilott, a full-time rocket engineer and part-time astronomer; Jed Orme, an amateur photographer venturing into astrophotography; and Jerome and Debbie Womack, amateur astronomers experimenting with a variety of astrophotography equipment.

Often termed Electronically Assisted Astronomy (EAA) or Near Real Time Video (NRTV), the eyepiece of a telescope is replaced by an integrating video camera that shows celestial objects “live” on some type of monitor or projection device, conveying the imagery in color rather than shades of gray. Guest astronomers will be using this new technology to provide visitors a creative and colorful way to explore the cosmos, and in some cases to process the images captured.

Sky’s The Limit volunteers will also have a variety of telescopes set up for guests to use along the winding sidewalks, and always encourage guests to bring their own binoculars and scopes as well. The presentation is very casual, so come at any time and leave when you wish.

For more information about Sky’s The Limit, and to see photos taken through STL’s 14” Celestron Schmidt–Cassegrain telescope, visit www.skysthelimit29.org.

Book your overnight stay in 29 Palms and choose from a wide variety of hotels, motels, and vacation rentals, plus find lots of fantastic restaurants and shops just minutes away from Sky’s The Limit Observatory!

Moon rises at 8:22 pm (84.5%). Sunset 4:39 pm. NOTE THE TIME CHANGE.
Prominent constellations: Pegasus the Flying Horse, Lyra the Harp, Cygnus the Swan, Aquila the Eagle, and Aquarius the Water Bearer.

In honor of Latino Conservation Week, Sky’s The Limit Observatory and Nature Center in 29 Palms presents La Luna Desvela, a special wildlife interactive talk with Native American storytelling and Tribal history, offered in Spanish, English, and ASL.

This special event at Sky’s The Limit Observatory and Nature Center on Saturday, July 20 is presented in partnership with the Mojave Desert Land Trust and The Wildlands Conservancy as part of Latino Conservation Week 2019.

In honor of Latino Conservation Week Sky's The Limit Observatory and Nature Center presents La Luna Desvela in partnership with the Mojave Desert Land Trust and The Wildlands  Conservancy.

Join us in 29 Palms at 8:30pm at Sky’s The Limit Observatory stage for “La Luna Desvela: The Moon Reveals,” honoring Latino Conservation Week. This special program is offered in Spanish and English, and features Native American stories told by Blanca Villalobos, Whitewater Preserve’s Education Coordinator. The program will close with music in Spanish, English, and Latin American indigenous languages as the moon rises. Guests are encouraged to linger under the desert night sky.

Sky’s The Limit Observatory and Nature Center is located in 29 Palms at 9697 Utah Trail in 29 Palms, just outside of the north entrance of Joshua Tree National Park. Learn more about upcoming special events and book your stay in 29 Palms at one of our hotels, motels, or vacation home rentals!

Join us this summer in 29 Palms and discover the Mojave Desert’s stunning dark night skies bursting with stars and dazzling meteor showers, and a breathtaking Milky Way!

From constellation tours and star parties at Sky’s The Limit Observatory and Nature Center, to upcoming solar and lunar eclipses, and evening programs at Joshua Tree National Park – an officially designated IDA International Dark Sky Park – there are incredible stargazing opportunities awaiting you in 29 Palms this summer. Plan your summer visit today!

Full Moon, Joshua Tree National Park, Twentynine Palms California.

Celestial summer night sky guide:

JUNE

JULY

AUGUST

Stargazing at Sky's The Limit Observatory and Nature Center, 29 Palms, California.

Best stargazing experiences in 29 Palms:

Star Parties at Sky’s The Limit Observatory and Nature Center
9697 Utah Trail, 29 Palms, CA 92277
Free public star parties are offered every Saturday, except on nights when the moon is full. Explore deep space with knowledgeable and passionate astronomers, learn about the prominent constellations and have your breath taken away by the summer milky way! Star parties start
about an hour after sunset and last approximately two hours.

Book a private stargazing party with the 29 Palms Astronomy Club
Whether you’re looking to spend an evening under the stars in Joshua Tree National Park or from the comfort of the patio of your hotel or vacation rental, the 29 Palms Astronomy Club will come to you! They offer fantastic private stargazing experiences, and cover the national park as well as the entire Morongo Basin area.

Discover the night sky in Joshua Tree National Park
74485 National Park Drive, 29 Palms, CA 92277 
Recognized as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association, Joshua Tree National Park offers spectacular stargazing opportunities throughout the year, boasting some of the darkest skies in southern California. Relax under the stars at one of the evening programs hosted at Jumbo Rocks Campground, every Saturday from 8:30pm – 9:30pm from June 1 – August 19, 2019.


Stargazing in Twentynine Palms, California.

Stargazing Checklist:

Bring a red-light flashlight – Avoid standard flashlights and headlamps with bright white light and either purchase a red-light flashlight, or convert your regular flashlight by coloring it with a red sharpie or covering it with red cellophane.

Bring warm layers – Be prepared for temperatures to drop quickly in the evening so be sure to bring extra layers of warm clothing.

Pack food and water – Don’t let a rumbling stomach distract you from enjoying the stars, or assume you won’t need water. The Mojave Desert is an extremely dry and hot place, even on summer evenings so bring at least 2 liters of water per person.

Bring a comfortable chair – Since you’ll be spending a long evening looking up into the sky you’ll want to have a lightweight camping chair to give your legs a break from standing, and so you can sit back and enjoy the show, especially during meteor shower peaks!

Avoid stargazing when the moon is full – Check the moon’s phase and try and get out during the new moon phase in order to see the stars at their brightest!

California Now Podcast

For more information and inspiration on stargazing in southern California, tune in to the first-ever Road Trips: Searching for Stars episode of the California Now Podcast as host Soterios Johnson gets out of the studio and explores Southern California’s awe-inspiring night sky!

Be sure to pick up a copy of the special road trip issue:
California Road Trips: 50 Life-Changing Adventures


Plan your summer getaway to 29 Palms, and come and experience some of the darkest night skies in southern California!

Discover vibrant art galleries and outdoor murals, fascinating lecture series and cultural programs, plus art and music festivals – all happening this spring in 29 Palms!

Visit 29 Palms for Shakti Fest May 2019

Shakti Fest
May 9 – 13, 2019.
Shakti Fest is a 4-day festival hosted in celebration of the devotional paths of yoga, Kirtan (sacred music), and meditation, and places a special emphasis on the Divine Feminine. This bi-annual, drug and alcohol-free festival features an incredible line-up of world renown spiritual teachers, sacred music, premiere yoga classes, and conscious workshops, all set in the beautiful high desert.

Visit 29 Palms - Joshua Tree Music Festival - Photo by Black Owl Media

Joshua Tree Music Festival
May 16 – 19, 2019.
Experience 4 days and nights of phenomenal live music, inspiring art, yoga, and workshops, in a family-friendly environment that promotes passionate creativity, community empowerment, and arts education for all ages at the bi-annual Joshua Tree Music Festival. This family inclusive global music experience in the magical Mojave desert was founded in 2003 with a mission to foster social interaction on a deep level, creating positive life-changing moments, and takes places every May and October.

Bobby Jo Jackson The Revival Sky's The Limit 29 Palms

Full Moon Cultural Series
Bobby Jo Jackson: The Revival
May 18, 2019.
Sky’s The Limit Observatory and Nature Center
New this year, Sky’s The Limit Observatory and Nature Center is offering a Full Moon Cultural Series, exploring how diverse cultures understand the significance of the desert, earth, and sky. These special gatherings take place on full moon Saturdays under the bright desert moon. Sky’s The Limit Observatory and Nature Center is pleased to present its next Full Moon Cultural program with Bobby Jo Jackson: The Revival, on Saturday, May 18.

Visit 29 Palms - Old Schoolhouse Museum - Mining History -

Step back in time at the Old Schoolhouse Museum
Explore the rich history of our city at the Old Schoolhouse Museum, hosted by the 29 Palms Historical Society. Tour the museum’s collection and learn about this history of the Serrano and Chemehuevi Native America tribes, the miners, ranchers, and cattlemen, to the pioneering homesteaders who played instrumental roles in developing this community, as well as the establishment of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at 29 Palms.

The Old Schoolhouse Museum also hosts the Second Friday Lecture Series, presented by the Desert Institute through the Joshua Tree National Park Association.

Art Cruise 29 - 1st Saturdays every month in 29 Palms

Art Cruise 29!
Explore 5 vibrant art galleries and 5 unique exhibitions showcasing the best from high desert artists, with gallery doors open from mid-morning to after sunset, every 1st Saturday in 29 Palms. From outdoor murals and sculptures, to painting, photography, and mixed media, to opening night receptions, each participating venue offers its own unique experience for art lovers!

Plus don’t miss out on some fantastic art workshops and classes at the
29 Palms Art Gallery:

May 16: Life Drawing
May 17/17: Naked Raku Pottery, Part 1
May 25: Naked Raku Pottery, Part 2 
May 30: Life Drawing


Plan your stay in 29 Palms
Choose from the largest variety of lodging options in the area, from national hotels to historic inns and motels, and a great collection of vacation home rentals!

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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Know Before You Go

Your health and safety is the top priority for our hospitality businesses. In accordance with State/County guidelines we kindly remind you to wear your face mask/covering, practice healthy hand-washing, maintain a safe social distance, and postpone travel if you are sick.

Together, our everyday actions can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.