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  • Sunset at Mojave Desert in Twentynine Palms, CA

Joshua Tree National Park proudly opens new Visitor & Cultural Center in Freedom Plaza in downtown Twentynine Palms California


On May 7, 2022, Joshua Tree National Park proudly opened their new Visitor Center in downtown 29 Palms, in the newly completed Freedom Plaza. Made possible through partnership with the City of Twentynine Palms, Joshua Tree National Park’s traditionally associated Native American communities, Joshua Tree National Park Association (JTNPA), and the Bureau of Land Management, the new Joshua Tree Visitor & Cultural Center is a must-see destination for park visitors.

In addition to the beautiful bookstore and information center, this new Visitor Center features an incredible museum space which will feature rotating exhibits celebrating the culture, history, and stories of the Native American communities. The new facility is located at 6533 Freedom Way, in the center of 29 Palms’ newly completed Freedom Plaza, and is open 7 days a week from 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM.

The opening exhibition, Home Maintenance: Keys Ranch, tells the story of the park’s role in the preservation of cultural resources. This temporary exhibit was developed by Joshua Tree Art Innovation Lab (JTLab) and weaves the stories of people on the landscape in the present and the recent past. The next set of exhibits, scheduled to be installed in the fall of 2022, are being developed in partnership with the traditionally associated Native American communities. This more permanent exhibition will share the rich heritage of the many peoples who have stewarded this land for millennia. JTNP acknowledges these original stewards, and this exhibit will pay respect to the people, past, present and emerging who have been in this area for generations.

The Oasis Visitor Center (OVC) in Twentynine Palms closed its doors at 5:00 PM Monday, May 2, 2022 after 60 years of operation. The new Joshua Tree National Park Visitor Center in 29 Palms replaces OVC in welcoming visitors and providing park information. Other park visitor facilities are Joshua Tree Visitor Center, Cottonwood Visitor Center, and Blackrock Nature Center and Art Gallery. These are open to welcome the public daily.


About Freedom Plaza

Formerly known as Project Phoenix, the Freedom Plaza site is dynamic downtown revitalization project along Highway 62 in the heart of 29 Palms that will serve to meet the community’s recreational, professional, and educational needs.

The multi-faceted complex features an 11,000 square foot Community Center with a gymnasium/multipurpose room and culinary arts kitchen, a 4,100 square foot Joshua Tree National Park Visitor Center, a 10,000 square foot entry plaza and a three-block long Paseo.

The Community Center will serve as a flexible athletics facility and recreational hub for the community’s youth and adults and can also be used for special events and conferences. Through the City’s new partnership with Copper Mountain College and the Morongo Unified School District, the culinary arts kitchen in this new Community Center will be used as a teaching space for the next generation of aspiring chefs.

A beautiful outdoor event stage graces the corner of Freedom Way and the Paseo parking lot between the Community Center and Joshua Tree Visitor Center. Freedom Way’s newly designed protected walkway also transforms into an event space that can be reserved for special events such as festivals, farmers markets, art shows, car shows and musical events.

A decade in the making, the City of Twentynine Palms proudly unveiled and officially opened Freedom Plaza on March 12!

Stargazing in Joshua Tree National Park Photo by Jack Fusco


It’s that time of year again! The annual Perseids meteor shower will be gracing our desert night skies once again this August in all its out-of-this-world glory. Boasting some of the darkest night skies in southern California and bordering Joshua Tree National Park, an International Dark Sky Park, 29 Palms is the ideal destination for observing the Perseids this summer!

Producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak and known for its massive fireballs which are larger explosions of light and color that last longer than the average meteor streak, the Perseids are a sight to behold and one of the most exciting meteor showers to observe. These fireballs leave “long ‘wakes’ of light and color behind them,” according to NASA. Named after the constellation Perseus, NASA reports the Perseids originate from comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1862 by astronomers Lewis Swift and Horace Tuttle. With the meteors appearing in all parts of the sky, this shower will be easy to witness with the naked eye. Plus, with the waxing crescent moon setting in the early evening, viewers will be left with gorgeous dark skies for what is sure to be an excellent show!

There are a few things you’ll want to bring with you to make your meteor shower watch party a memorable experience, starting with a comfortable chair. A reclining lawn chair would be best as it allows you to sit back, look up, and enjoy the show.

Because it will be a late night, be sure to pack all your favorite late-night snacks and lots of water. We can’t emphasize the importance of water and staying hydrated enough, even for nighttime adventures! It’s easy to underestimate the effects of the summer heat at night and even if you don’t feel thirsty, it’s important to keep your water intake up. A gallon per day/per person is always recommended. It’s also a good idea to have a few extra layers of warm clothing handy as evening temperatures do drop and you’ll want to stay comfortable.

Another key item to have with you is a red flashlight. It is recommended that you do not use bright white flashlights, headlamps, or cell phones when getting ready to stargaze. It takes approximately 20-30 for the human eye to fully adjust to these types of low light conditions. Don’t have red lights? No problem! You can turn any regular flashlight into a red-light flashlight by covering it with red cellophane, tape, paper, fabric, or any other similar materials.

This red flashlight will also help you watch your step while getting settled at your viewing spot, and help you avoid stepping on cacti, desert critters, and uneven surfaces that can be difficult to see at night. Wearing closed-toe shoes is also highly recommended.

Plan on giving yourself at least one hour of viewing time as meteors are known to come in spurts with interspersed lulls. The optimal viewing time for the Perseids meteor shower will be between midnight and dawn, with the peaks expected on the mornings of August 11, 12, 13.

While many focus on this peak time, remember that meteor showers typically last weeks! According to, the Perseids can be visible for up to 10 or more days following the peak, so if you can’t make it out to 29 Palms between August 11-13, you can certainly still plan a trip shortly after!

One of the common questions we get asked is where the best place to stargaze is, and fortunately, due to the lack of light pollution in our area, the opportunities are endless! Many of the hotels and vacation rentals in our city offer great views of the night sky so it can be as easy as pulling a chair out to the patio or backyard.

Designated as an official International Dark Sky Park in 2017, Joshua Tree National Park is the best (and most popular) place for stargazing in southern California, offering visitors incredible stargazing opportunities year-round. Do expect the park to be busy during the annual Perseid meteor shower and as always, take the time to plan out your visit in advance. With cell reception extremely limited in Joshua Tree National Park it’s important to download the new National Park Service mobile app as it provides the ability to download and save park maps and helpful visitor resources for offline use. Also, remember you can now purchase your park pass online and in advance by visiting

*Please note, if you are planning on watching the Perseids from within Joshua Tree National Park, there is a temporary fire restriction in place, and all fires are banned until further notice. The restrictions include campgrounds, residential areas, and the backcountry, and bans campfires, barbeques, outdoor smoking, and other fire hazards.

Summer is here in the Mojave Desert, and we are ready for all that’s in store. From starry nights to annual meteor showers, make Twentynine Palms your destination for your out-of-this-world adventures this summer!

June gave us some of the most gorgeous evenings for stargazing. We started off with a third quarter moon meaning a new moon was right around the corner. With moonless nights on the horizon, it was the perfect opportunity for us to get out our telescopes and observe some deep sky targets. The day of the new moon also marked the first solar eclipse of 2021. Just days before the Summer Solstice, the moon popped back out after completing its first quarter of its orbit around the Earth on June 17. On June 20, we officially entered summer as the sun reached its northernmost declination for the year resulting in the longest daylight hours of the year for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. Shortly after the Summer Solstice, the moon was in full force showing us what its capable of when it reaches its full phase.

July is an exciting month for many different reasons. The kids are still on summer vacation, the weather is perfect for taking a dip in the pool, and the night sky will be lit up twice! While the sky was lit up for the 4th of July festivities, the end of the month will give us a different light show: the Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower! At its peak, this shower can produce up 20 meteors per hour. Even though the nearly full moon will keep us from seeing some of the faintest meteors, we will still get a great glimpse at the shower the night of July 28. To get the best view, it is recommended to watch from a dark location after midnight. Lucky for us, Joshua Tree National Park is an International Dark Sky Park. Grab the family and head on up to the park for a late-night meteor shower watch party.

August will bring another meteor shower for our night sky viewing pleasure. The Perseids Meteor Shower is one of the best meteor showers to observe, producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. With the waxing crescent moon setting in the early evening, viewers will be left with gorgeous dark skies for what is sure to be an excellent show. For the best viewing experience, be sure to watch from a dark location after midnight. Maybe this time, head out to the Mojave National Preserve or Mojave Trails National Monument to have a quiet, peaceful evening watching one of the best meteor showers of the year. Before heading into September, August will also give us our third full moon of the season, also known as a blue moon.

September brings us to the end of our summer nights in the desert. Before heading into the fall season, we will be graced with our fourth and final full moon of the season. The Harvest Moon is the full moon that occurs closest to the September Equinox each year. This year, it will occur on September 20. With the equinox coming in on September 22, it’s time for us to get ready for shorter days and longer nights. Of course, longer nights means more time to gaze up at the beautiful desert night sky. Our summer nights in the desert may be coming to an end, but that does not mean our galactic adventures end with it. Gear up! Grab your blankets and your hot cocoa. Winter is coming.

Sustainable recreation and protection of cultural and natural resources have been significant issues for Joshua Tree National Park even before its designation as a national monument in 1936. In fact, Minvera Hoyt was motivated to preserve the area out of concern that increased automobile use was threatening the desert and its unique vegetation. The conservation issues that challenged early 20th century environmentalists are similar to the ones the park faces today.  As visitation rapidly increases each year, instances of illegal off-highway vehicle incursions are increasing. These incursions have serious consequences on the park’s natural and cultural resources.

Things you should know before traveling on backcountry roads in Joshua Tree National Park:

-Joshua Tree National Park is covered in cryptobiotic soil, which holds the desert in place. It absorbs rainwater and is a source of nitrogen and organic matter that other life in the park depends on. It takes 5-7 years for it to even start to grow back. (

-Illegal off-roading can introduce invasive plants through your car tires, which can carry invasive seeds or spores. The damage is further exacerbated because disturbing natural vegetation can encourage invasive species to spread rapidly.

-Joshua Tree National Park is rich with human history dating back to the 1500s. If you drive off an established route, you could disturb a cultural site that potentially holds important and fascinating information regarding the area’s cultural and natural resources.

-Driving off the legal route encourages other drivers to follow your path, causing even more damage from repeated use.

-If you want to pull over to take a photo or explore, make sure to pull over in an established pullout, which will be paved or lined with boulders.

-Illegal off-roading can put your safety at risk. Unestablished routes may have difficult 4WD terrain you are unprepared for.

-No one expects to run into trouble while off-roading, but sudden rainfall, an unexpected injury, car troubles could turn a fun drive into a crisis. Always be prepared for the worst case scenario.

-If you drive off the legal route and get stuck, it is unlikely that anyone would find you. There is little cell service in the park, particularly in remote areas where off-roading is most common.

-Stay with your vehicle if you get stuck. It may be your first impulse to search for help, but the people searching for you are much more likely to find your vehicle before they find you wandering alone in the desert.

-If you plan to use one of the park’s many legal 4WD routes, tell people where you’re going and when you plan on returning. Carry multiple forms of communication, such as a personal locator beacon in addition to your cell phone.

-Unauthorized off-road driving can incur you a $180 fine for each instance.

Learn more at:

Guest post written by Nalini “Ash” Maharaj, owner/operator of Harmony Motel, a proud Visit 29 Palms Partner.

The refreshing cool breeze and the warm sunlight strokes my skin gently; this magically rejuvenates and uplifts my spirits, whispering to me—the appearance of my most favorite season of the year. Yes! Bright, beautiful, and blossoming, spring  showcases, the awesome wonders of  the creative spirit of Mother Nature. Spring’s creativity provides immense joy for all nature lovers.

In the desert, spring can be unpredictable with the climate. Some days, she is light and breezy, or she can be cheerfully sunny; sometimes she gets moody and places a damper on your day (rudely interrupting your plans), by showing up overcast, rainy, damp windy, and cold.

Spring generally glitters and glows in colors—bright greens, purples, warm pinks, oranges, and yellows as she paints the desert landscape with sweet smelling wildflower blooms. She rejuvenates the desert wilderness with blankets of green grass, fragrant smelling flowers with picture perfect butterflies, sweet sounds of chirping humming birds, merry quail families, and over protective fussing doves that are nesting high up in the trees.

This gorgeous spring morning I am relaxed and comfortable on my favorite chair on the harmony patio, as I view the energetic critter activity in the harmony desert garden.  The  garden is always a delightful picture of my favorite desert critters buzzing with joy and love, obviously happy to meet all their friends at their favorite play place, after a cold, dry and some what harsh winter that they had just experienced.

I hear chatting from the critters.

Mr. Tortoise whispers to Mr. Bunny. “Did you notice, Ash is so happy? She did not even shoo Mrs. Red Racer away, when she found her in the garden this morning.”

“Off course she is always full of joy and happiness in spring because her favorite guests will soon be arriving,” replied Bunny.

“And who may I ask are they?” squeaked Lizzie.

“Oh come on Lizzie, don’t you know them,” replied Mrs. Red Racer in her husky voice.

“The famous ‘Hang Town Hikers’ are the biggest fans of the Harmony. They adore Ash, love the desert wilderness, and totally appreciate critter land. They have been coming to the Harmony for the last fifteen years; they are a merry crowd that is full of laughter and always in the mood for their happy hour celebrations,” expressed  bunny in a happy tone of voice.

“That’s right,” cried out Mr. Roadrunner. “I like them too; they love Joshua Tree National Park, always going on their long hikes, and they enjoy eating at their favorite restaurants in town. Every year they hike my favorite trail, the Boy Scout Trail,” explained chirpy Mr. Roadrunner.

“I wonder why they call themselves the Hang Town Hikers?”  Whispered Tortoise to himself, to which Bunny chuckled.

“On the last trip I heard Bob, the leader, explain the history of their name to Ash.”

“So it’s time for a story Bunny,” shouted Roadrunner delightfully.

Mr. Roadrunner than proceeded to instruct everyone to find a seat on the comfortable dirt.  Bunny cleared his throat and began to narrate the historical story of the name of the town Placerville—why it once was notoriously called Hang Town .

Bunny loved the attention from his friends, he squealed with laughter, as he began narrating the story with excitement in his voice. “As history explains, the discovery of gold in nearby Coloma, California by James W. Marshall in 1848 sparked the California Gold Rush, the small town now known as Placerville was then called Dry Digging’s —after the manner in which the miners moved cartloads of dry soil to running water to separate the gold from the soil.

Later, in 1849, the town earned its most common historical notorious name “Hang Town” because the miners quickly became short-tempered, and with the rising crime rate and the lack of readily-available law enforcement, they took the “law”—or lack thereof—into their own hands. Criminals were punished in short order, whether it be flogging or hanging, based on snap decisions made by impromptu courts with hastily-formed juries.

The first lynching in the camp, a triple hanging, came after a gang of five tried to rob a miner of his gold dust. However, someone in the crowd of 2,000 said he recognized three of the five—two Mexicans and one Yankee—that had been involved with a murder on the Stanislaus River.

The three suspects were hanged together from the huge oak tree in camp. The location of this well-used hangin’ tree is marked by an effigy dangling by his neck from the second story of the Hangman’s Tree Historic Spot in downtown Placerville. The stump is said to be in the cellar. That is how the Town Placerville acquired its historical notorious name “Hang Town” as there were many such hangings during this period in the town.”

Bunny continued, “So my dear critter land that is why our dear friends from Sacramento call themselves the “Hang Town Hikers.”

“I get it, they like the history of their town’s name,” whispered tortoise.

“Or maybe their name indicates that they will not tolerate bad behaviors from their hiking team, like the pioneers of their town,” suggested Roadrunner.

“Gosh I had better be on my best behavior the next time they are here,” stuttered anxious Mrs. Roadrunner .

“Yes, listen to Ash. You need to hide yourself  when her guests are around because they are afraid of you,” Lizzie uttered naughtily.

Joshua Tree National Park Inside Scoop

Download your copy of the JT Inside Scoop!

Get the inside scoop on everything you need to know to plan your visit to Joshua Tree National Park this season and beyond!

This must-have collection of resources covers an array of topics and starts with a warm-hearted welcome from Park Superintendent David Smith who shares his own pro tips for visiting the park! Find helpful trip planning checklists, important links to the park’s hiking trails and campground maps, tips on hiking safely in the summer season, and knowing how to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat related illness.

This Inside Scoop is also packed with great information about the park’s wildlife, and simple actions that you can take during your visit that will help to protect some of the park’s most iconic species like the desert tortoise and bighorn sheep. Wondering what to do if you encounter a mountain lion, tarantula, or rattlesnake? That’s covered too!

Plus, learn about the Dr. James Buckner Luckie Study Center and opportunities to volunteer in the park this spring break!

Looking for information or have questions that are not covered in this Inside Scoop? Plan a visit to one of Joshua Tree National Park’s Visitor Centers:

Oasis Visitor Center
74485 National Park Drive, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277
Open daily from 7:30am to 5:00pm

Joshua Tree Visitor Center
6554 Park Blvd, Joshua Tree, CA 92252
Open daily from 7:30am to 5:00pm

Cottonwood Visitor Center
Pinto Basin Road, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277
Open daily from 8:30am to 4:00pm

Hi everyone! My name is Jack Fusco, I’m a professional astrophotographer based out of San Diego. So much of my work involves planning out images weeks or months in advance for everything to come together. Some of my images from Southern California have been featured by National Geographic, NASA APOD, BBC and many others. I’m excited to share some of the planning I did to take some of my images around the 29 Palms area.

When it comes to astrophotography, or stargazing in general, you have a lot of things to consider and plan out. Of all the things you need to factor in, dark skies will always be the most important. The further you can get from light pollution the more incredible the night sky will appear. It’s guaranteed to be an experience you won’t forget.

One of the issues that can often come with finding dark skies is the remote location you need to travel to find them. Long drives before or after your stargazing session aren’t always easy or the safest option. Because it’s just a short drive from San Diego, Los Angeles, or Las Vegas and is right in the middle of some amazing stargazing locations, 29 Palms made for the perfect night sky home base for a long weekend of stargazing.

After making the drive from San Diego, I mapped out 3 nights and 3 locations of stargazing. With each location, I’ll share some both tips for photographing and stargazing.

Night 1 – Joshua Tree National Park

Distance from 29 Palms: 5 miles
Approximate Drive Time: 5 minutes

Starting in 29 Palms, I was literally 5 minutes to the North entrance to Joshua Tree National Park, an International Dark Sky Park. If you’re not familiar, an International Dark Sky Park is certification given to land with exceptional and protected views of the night sky.

Jack Fusco Joshua Tree Arch

The North entrance to Joshua Tree is closest to some of the most iconic locations in the park, like Arch Rock at the White Tank Campground, Skull Rock, Barker Dam (closed at night, but worth the day trip!), and the Jumbo Rock area.

I decided to start my night sky weekend by visiting the Skull Rock area to do some exploring of the nearby trails.

Jack Fusco - Joshua Tree Moonlit

For this area, I decided to bring a 14mm wide angle lens as the trail was right next to beautiful rock formations that I wanted capture. The wide angle allows for both the rocks and a large portion of the night sky to be caught in the same frame.

With the wide-angle lens, I was using exposure times of around 10-15 seconds. This will vary a bit from camera to camera, but it allows for a lot of light to be captured while keeping the stars looking pin point sharp!

This area of the park is a fantastic choice for stargazing as well. I recommend bringing along a headlamp with a red light to help preserve your night vision. Skull Rock has roadside parking that’s just a short walk to the trails. Once you’re a bit further from the road, you can protect your vision from any passing headlights. This will help make sure you can see the greatest number of stars possible!

Night 2 – Kelso Sand Dunes, Mojave National Preserve

Distance from 29 Palms: 85 miles
Approximate Drive Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Jack Fusco - Kelso Dunes Milky Way

Located in Mojave National Preserve, I was very excited to make my first trip out to the Kelso Sand Dunes. Although you can’t possibly be closer than Joshua Tree to 29 Palms, the drive is still very easy to make to the dunes. If you enter “Kelso Dunes Trail” on Google Maps, it will bring you right to the trail head. The last short bit is technically off-road, but is still accessible taking your time with 2wd cars.

As with all locations, I strongly suggest arriving well before dark so you can familiarize yourself with the area and the trails. Because the trail here is across sand, it can be a bit harder to follow on windy days or even in the dark. Using an offline GPS map on your phone (in case you lose service) will help make sure you stay safe.

Jack Fusco Kelso Dunes MW Stargazer

The hike to the dunes isn’t a long one, but can be tiring once you start walking on the areas with soft sand. The dunes rise 650 feet above the desert, so making your way up hill can also be on the strenuous side.  If the idea of climbing up huge sand dunes doesn’t sound appealing to you, there are still absolutely incredible to see without heading up hill! Whether you plan on making your way to the top or just close enough for a great view, be sure to bring plenty of water.

The view of the surrounding Providence Mountains is almost as beautiful as the dunes and they also help block out light pollution. This means not only do you have an incredible view of the stars, but the surrounding area is very dark as well. The dunes can be very tricky to navigate in total darkness, so plan on exploring while the sun is out and keeping closer the trail once it’s dark.

Use an app like StarWalk or Sky Guide to help locate any visible planets or the Milky Way while you’re here! No matter what you’re looking for should be easily visible.

For photographing this area, I mainly stuck with lenses that were 35mm or wider. Depending on your distance to the dunes, a 50 or 85mm lens would capture the curves in the dunes wonderfully.

A wide-angle lens in this location will mean getting really low to the sand to pick up some of that awesome texture and lines created by the wind!

Night 3 – Amboy Crater, Mojave Trails National Monument

Distance from 29 Palms: 50 miles
Approximate Drive Time: 50 minutes

Recently designated as a National Recreation Trail, Amboy Crater offers an easy hike through a lava field straight to the edge, and even in to, an extinct cinder cone volcano. I planned my hike here to be lit by the rising Moon so I could take photos both leading up to the crater and inside and have them well lit. Although it washes out a bit of the stars, the Moon can provide enough light so you can see detail in even dark foregrounds like the lava field surrounding the crater.

Jack Fusco - Amboy Crater Jupiter Saturn Above Mojave Trails National Monument

As with all desert locations, be aware of temperatures and conditions before heading out. Warm conditions can continue in to the night, so be sure to bring enough water. Proving the temperatures are suitable for outdoor activity, the hike to the crate is just over a mile and approachable for all levels. It’s very well defined through most of the trail and easy to keep your way. The approach to the rim or interior of the crate isn’t particularly difficult, but it does get somewhat steep. The lava rocks can be sharp and lose in certain areas. At night, this can make coming down much more difficult than going up. If you’re not comfortable, the view outside of the crate is still spectacular.

One of the highlights of being at the Amboy Crater is the nearly 360 view of the night sky while you’re there. Because the crater sits in the middle of a large lava field, you’ll have an amazing unobstructed view of the night sky from horizon to horizon.

Jack Fusco - Amboy Crater Mojave Trails National Monument

For taking photos, your focal length will likely vary depending on how close to the crater you’re setting up. From further away, a wide-angle lens will make the volcano look small in your frame and capture a huge portion of the sky above and around.

To set up along the trail, try using a lens 35mm or above if you want the crater to appear larger in your photo. As you approach or enter in to the crater, a wide-angle lens will help capture your surrounding area and still show off the incredible landscape.

No matter what location you decide on, you’re sure to come home with a unique and unforgettable stargazing experience. Although I live close enough to make the drive to any one of these locations, I’m happy I chose to stay in 29 Palms to start my adventure. Being able to cut a few hours off my drive each way allowed me the time and energy to explore these incredible areas. These are locations I will 100% be returning to in the near future and can’t wait to share more photos! Follow me over on Instagram (@jackfusco) to see all my new photos from around the 29 Palms area!

If you visit and get a great photo, be sure to tag @visit29palms and #visit29palms for a chance to have your photo featured!

Jack Fusco Visit 29 Palms

Jack Fusco is a landscape astrophotographer / timelapser based out of San Diego, California. What began as a way purely to document his travels as a touring musician, photography has become his mainform of creative expression.

On his often-sleepless journey, he strives to share the wonder of the night sky with as many people as possible. Whether chasing the Milky Way along coast lines or capturing the Northern lights in unforgiving remote locations you’re sure to find him coffee in hand, smiling up at the stars.

Many of Jack’s images are often planned days, weeks, or even months in advance while waiting for weather and celestial objects to align. The resulting work shows a true and complete dedication to his craft. His work has been featured by National Geographic, TEDx, LA Times, NASA APOD, BBC, Forbes and many more. Find his work at |  

As 2020 comes to an end and we collectively welcome 2021 with hope and optimism, we reflect on what a year it has been in 29 Palms. For as many challenges and hardships faced this year there have also been incredible success stories, showing the strength and resiliency of our community. Here’s a look at some of the many success stories for 29 Palms in 2020:

Project Phoenix in 29 Palms

Project Phoenix Downtown Revitalization Underway 

After breaking ground at the start of the year, this exciting downtown development project has stayed on track and all underground work is now completed. Site-work construction ready to begin in January, followed by the buildings in March. This $20 million-dollar downtown revitalization project includes a 11,000-square foot community center and outdoor stage which will open up new opportunities for hosting events in the city, plus a 4,000-square foot Joshua Tree National Park Visitor & Cultural Center which will provide an incredible opportunity to showcase the Native American artifacts that the National Park has its in collection which tell the human history of our area. This project is set for completion in March of 2022.


New Businesses in 29 Palms

New Businesses Open 

In what has unquestionably been the most challenging year for businesses, the entrepreneurial spirit has proven itself to be alive and well in 29 Palms. Over the course of 2020 we saw numerous new businesses open in our city, including Ace of Fades, Campbell Hill Bakery, Cactus Trails Café, Desert Beacon, Donahlue Clothing Co., Digital Paragon, Rasta Rita Cantina, Starbucks, and Perfectly Unique 29.

While we celebrate and welcome these new businesses to our city, we must also acknowledge the resiliency of the long established business owners who have worked incredibly hard this year to adapt and comply with new state, county, and city protocols, and commend the 60+ small businesses in 29 Palms who have successfully enrolled in San Bernardino County’s COVID-Compliant Business Partner Program and are continuing to prioritize and protect the health and safety of our community as well as our visitors.


New Public Art in 29 Palms

New Public Art 

In an exciting year for public art, 3 new murals were completed in 2020, adding new color and vibrancy to our downtown area. These new works compliment the city’s historic Oasis of Murals series, and bring the city’s collection of murals and public art installations count to 65.

Pictured above is one of the new murals completed in 2020, completed by artist Tommy Wonder and located at the corner of Hwy 62 and Mariposa Ave at the newly established Ace of Fades barber shop. In the early spring a new mural went up on the side of Rosie’s Thrift Store on Hwy 62 which honored three generations of women in the community, completed by artist Glenn Case.

Muralist and 29 Palms resident Tim O’Connor was also commissioned this year by the Morongo Basin Healthcare District to design and create the story of the Kenney Drug Store that opened in 1940. The mural includes a short biography of Pharmacist Ed Kenney, who became known locally as the “founding father.” The Healthcare District used a grant from the Kenney Trust to purchase the Split Rock medical complex, which is the new site of the Morongo Basin Community Health Center’s pediatric services.


Mural Restoration in 29 Palms

Historic Mural Restoration

In addition to new public art, one of the city’s most iconic murals saw a full restoration and repaint, thanks to the tremendous efforts of Action Council 29 Palms and artists Chuck & Holgie Caplinger and David Greene. The Desert Storm Homecoming & Victory Parade mural underwent a 6-week restoration and repaint, and is now ready for its clear coating to complete the restoration.

The Marines first came to 29 Palms in 1952, and since then the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center has trained thousands of Marines, many of whom were deployed during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Strom. This iconic mural commemorates the homecoming of our troops from the Persian Gulf War in 1991, where over 40,000 people lined the highway and crowded the streets to welcome our troops home, and needless to say is a very special mural for our community and Visit 29 Palms is honored to have contributed to the fundraising efforts to see it brought back to life.


New Designation for Amboy Crater

New Designation for Amboy Crater 

Mojave Trails National Monument’s iconic Amboy Crater trail was among 30 hiking trails newly added to the National Recreation Trails System in 2020, and was notably the only new trail addition for the state of California this year. This new designation will increase awareness for Amboy Crater and elevate its status as one of the most fascinating and accessible natural wonders in Mojave Trails National Monument and the California desert region. As part of an ongoing partnership, Visit 29 Palms was honored to have supported the Bureau of Land Management’s application for this new designation!

17 restaurants in the City of 29 Palms have earned Gold Star Awards from The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens, an achievement earned by businesses that demonstrate the sustainable practice of consistently closing their dumpsters to protect the local community and wildlife. These awards demonstrates an interest in resolving wider social and ecological issues, and The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens is thrilled to honor the commitments made by 29 Palms restaurants owners to keeping our desert home clean, healthy, and thriving!

Maintaining closed dumpsters is critical to reduce the unnaturally large numbers of ravens now in Southern California. Ravens have proliferated around our human developments because we indiscriminately provide food, water, and nesting resources. When people forget to cover their trash, it invites predatory ravens to thrive as open dumpsters and trashcans provide an especially reliable food source. In the Mojave Desert, the raven population is now 17 times larger than it was 50 years ago. These inflated raven populations decimate native wildlife – especially the threatened and iconic desert tortoise.

We hope you will join us in supporting these Gold Star Restaurants this holiday season and beyond. Supporting local businesses helps our human community thrive, and supporting sustainable practices helps our wildlife communities thrive!

Andreas Char-Broiled Burgers
Bamboo Garden Chinese Restaurant
Burger King
Cold Stone Creamery
Edchadas Mexican
Jack in the Box
Las Palmas Restaurant
Papa John’s Pizza
Surf City Squeeze
The Rib Co.
Top 100 Chinese Restaurant
Fosters Freeze
Fuji Restaurant
Kitchen in The Desert
Rocky’s New York Style Pizzeria
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory


For restaurant owners interested in learning more about this program and how to apply for a Gold Star Award for your restaurant, please contact Alex Ocañas at to learn more!

This holiday season, it is more important than ever for us to support small local businesses!

Saturday, November 28 is Small Business Saturday, and we encouraged you to #ShopSmall and #ShopLocal29 to support your favorite small businesses in 29 Palms, both in-store and online. By shopping or dining at local small businesses, we help both our small businesses and our community grow and flourish. Whether you’re looking for holiday gifts for family and friends, or gifts, apparel, or home décor for yourself, listed below are some of the great small businesses in 29 Palms that we hope you will support, not only on Small Business Saturday, but throughout the holiday season!

Please shop safely this holiday season and remember to wear your face mask/covering in all public places, maintain a safe 6-foot distance between you and people from outside of your household, and keep that hand sanitizer handy for use before and after you shop. These simple, small actions can have a significant impact on reducing the spread of COVID-19 and help to keep our community healthy!


Donahlue Clothing Co.

Located at 73550 Twentynine Palms Hwy., this Veteran owned & operated apparel, gift and home boutique in downtown 29 Palms is offering a wide variety of special offers for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, both in-store and online!

Phone: (760) 865-0121
Address: 73550 Twentynine Palms Hwy., 29 Palms, CA 92277
Hours: Tuesday through Friday from 11:00am – 5:00pm, Saturday from 9:00am – 6:00pm, and Sunday from 12:00pm – 4:00pm.


Copy Center Plus 29 Palms

Copy Center Plus, 29 Palms

From fine art photography and artisan gifts, candles, pins, hats, and tote bags, to a fun collection of Joshua Tree National Park souvenirs, Copy Center Plus in 29 Palms offers a great collection of gifts, and will be a customer appreciate drawing on Small Business Saturday (Nov 28) so be sure to drop by!

Phone: (760) 361-2679
Address: 6225 Adobe Road, 29 Palms, CA 92277
Hours: Monday through Friday from 9:00am – 5:00pm, Saturday from 9:00am – 1:00pm


Old Schoolhouse Museum Gift Shop

Located inside the Old Schoolhouse Museum, this wonderful gift shop carries a wide variety of unique gifts for both children and adults, and you can feel good knowing that your purchase helps support the Twentynine Palms Historical Society!

Phone: (760) 367-2366
Address: 6760 National Park Drive, 29 Palms, CA 92277
Hours: Wednesday through Sunday from 1:00pm – 4:00pm


Perfectly Unique

Whether you are looking for special gifts for your friends or family, or for holiday and home décor, Perfectly Unique in 29 Palms has you covered! Special, custom orders are also available, and welcomed!

Phone: (252) 646-1220
Address: 5688 The Plaza, 29 Palms, CA 92277
Hours: Friday from 1:00pm – 6:00pm, Saturday from 10:00am – 5:00pm, Sunday from 11:00am – 4:00pm.


Raven’s Bookshop

Shop thousands of used & rare books, in all genres, and discover how this business has been an oasis for book lovers for over 30 years! Raven’s bookstore carries every genre you can imagine, and specializes in Sci-Fi, Metaphysical and Military/War history, and since they’re always adding to the shelves, you’ll find something new every visit.

Phone: (858) 829-8250
Address: 69225 Twentynine Palms Hwy., 29 Palms, CA 92277
Hours: Thursday through Saturday from 10:00am – 6:00pm, Sunday from 11:00am – 5:00pm.


29 Palms Visitor Center

Shop a wide range of locally made artwork, gifts, and souvenirs at the 29 Palms Visitor Center, and while you’re there, be sure to pick up a few of the complimentary road maps that will help inspire your next desert road trip adventure!

Phone: (760) 358-6324
Address: 73484 Twentynine Palms Hwy., 29 Palms, CA 92277
Hours: Wednesday through Friday from 10:00am – 4:00pm, and Saturday 8:00am – 1:00pm during the weekly farmers market.


29 Palms Farmers Market

29 Palms Farmers Market

Not only will you find top quality and locally grown produce and specialty foods, you’ll also discover that the 29 Palms weekly farmers market features a wide variety of arts and crafts vendors who make one of a kind gifts, making it a perfect place to shop for yourself and your loved ones this holiday season!

Phone: (760) 401-0028
Address: 73484 Twentynine Palms Hwy., 29 Palms, CA 92277
Hours: Saturdays from 8:00am – 1:00pm


Copper Mountain College Foundation Festival of Wreaths

Copper Mountain College Foundation Festival of Wreaths

As one of Copper Mountain College Foundation’s largest fundraisers, the Festival of Wreaths traditionally kicks off the holiday season in the Morongo Basin all while raising funds to support the needs of students at the college. This year over 40 local businesses, individuals, and clubs have created one-of-a-kind wreaths, trees, gift baskets, and desserts to auction off to benefit the students at Copper Mountain College – and you can do your bidding online this year from the comfort of your home! Your support helps Copper Mountain College students with books, technology, upgraded labs and facilities, and also supports the Hunger Free Campus program, KC Special, provides free bus rides on MBTA, and helps keep the childcare center open that is adjacent to the college campus. Online bidding runs through 4 pm PST November 29, 2020.

To learn more about the history of the Festival of Wreaths, visit CMC’s blog:<

To go directly to the online bidding, please follow this link:<>


Shop safely!

Please remember face masks/coverings are required in all public places, including all indoor retail stores, and the outdoors farmers market. Do your best to always maintain a safe 6-foot distance between you and anyone outside of your immediate household, and carry your hand sanitizer with you while you shop and use it before and after you visit a business. To learn more about the COVID safety measures and protocols each of these businesses have put into place to ensure a safe shopping experience, please call ahead and speak directly with staff.

#ShopSmall #ShopLocal29 #SmallBusinessSaturday