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  • Sunset at Mojave Desert in Twentynine Palms, CA

Things are heating up in 29 Palms, southern California’s hidden gem in the heart of the Mojave Desert! Now is the perfect time to experience a one-of-a-kind desert experience with the family. Here are a few reasons you should pack up the van and venture to 29 Palms this summer:

Rise and Shine: Sunrise hikes

Take a walk on the wild side of life by exploring the Mojave Desert’s great outdoors. 29 Palms is the official gateway community to Joshua Tree National Park, Mojave Trails National Monument, and Mojave National Preserve. There is so much to explore whether you are spending a few days or a few weeks.

National Park Week - sPark Connections - Cap RockCap Rock Nature Trail is one of our favorite short nature walks with our families when we visit Joshua Tree National Park. Located at the corner of Park Blvd and Keys View Road, Cap Rock is the perfect trail to stretch your legs and learn about the desert flora and fauna. This short loop is less than half a mile and gives hikers views of boulder piles, Joshua trees, and other desert plants. Stop at each marker to learn a little more about what interesting plants and critters you can find in the park. Plan ahead and get an early start so that your hike is done by 10 A.M. and be sure to review the park’s summer safety tips.

We recommend heading out to Cadiz Dunes Wilderness in the Mojave Trails National Monument for our adventurous early risers. Located just 40 miles east of downtown 29 Palms between Highway 62 and the historic Route 66, the road to these pristine dunes takes you through some of the gorgeous locales the Mojave Trails National Monument has to offer. Ever-changing in contour and pattern and spanning nearly 20,000 acres, these majestic and remote dunes are shaped by the north winds blowing sand off the Cadiz dry lake.

Take a trip to Mojave National Preserve and enjoy the stunning Kelso Dunes. With temperatures reaching above 100°, trek out to the dunes later in the evening or early in the morning. The spectacular majestic sand piles of Kelso Dunes are the Preserve’s most popular hiking destination for a good reason. When hikers reach the summit, they are rewarded with a surreal backdrop of sand that seems to extend forever. Although this is the most popular trail at the Mojave National Preserve, potential hikers can still expect solitude.

Explore Your Artistic Side

29 Palms is known for its Oasis of Murals and thriving artistic community. Visitors can find over 60 murals, public art displays, and half a dozen art galleries across the City of 29 Palms. There is much to explore when tapping into your artistic side while visiting 29 Palms.

Gretchen Grunt 29 Palms Creative Center and Gallery Pottery Wheel ClassLet your kids discover their unique explosive creativity in a vast array of mediums, from simply drawing on paper to technical construction in clay, when you sign them up for an art class at the 29 Palms Creative Center! Owner, artist, and educator Gretchen Grunt believes creating a joyful and stress-free studio environment is key to nurturing the process of creativity. Book your private art class or party and get creative this summer!

The Oasis of Murals began in 1994 with the painting of the first mural honoring Bill and Frances Keys, pioneer homesteaders who settled at the Desert Queen Ranch in what is now Joshua Tree National Park. Since then, 25 more murals and one sculpture have been added to the Action Council for 29 Palms‘ impressive mural collection. Along with these murals, you can find beautiful public art displays from world-renowned artists like Simi Dabah, Ricardo Breceda, Chuck Caplinger, and more.

The 29 Palms Art Gallery is the oldest arts organization in the Morongo Basin. Founded by a group of prominent desert artists in the 1950s, the gallery is located in a historic adobe at the Oasis of Mara. They offer a variety of art classes to people of all ages throughout the year, including courses in pottery, painting, collage, and more.

Fun in the Sun (and the Shade)

There is so much fun to be had during the summer in 29 Palms! Whether you are outside basking in the desert sun or inside beating the heat, we have the perfect ways for you and your family to enjoy your time in the Mojave Desert.

The Old Schoolhouse Museum is the place to be for all you history buffs. Founded in 1982, the Twentynine Palms Historical Society has preserved the rich history of 29 Palms for 40 years. In 1992, the society moved the city’s original 1927 one-room schoolhouse to a parcel of land on National park Drive near the Oasis of Mara and remodeled the building to become the Old Schoolhouse Museum. Today, the historical society continues to preserve and interpret the historical heritage of the 29 Palms area through a variety of museum displays, special collections, an extensive library, historical gatherings, educational lectures, and more. We highly recommend visiting the museum while you are in the city and learning more about how 29 Palms has grown and evolved over the years.

Take a trip down to the Bowladium Family Fun Center in your spare time and bowl a game or 2 with the family. This summer, kids ages 2 to 15 bowl free every day! Registering for the Kids Bowl Free program allows your family to have fun all summer long at one of 29 Palms’ favorite family-friendly spots. Learn more about the program by calling the Bowladium at (760) 367-9502.

Water Play Days Station 44 Fire TruckLooking for a great way to cool down and beat the heat this summer? The Twentynine Palms Parks & Recreation Department hosts Water Play Days every Wednesday evening through the end of July. These free, family-friendly events alternate between Luckie Park and Knott’s Sky Park weekly. From water slides to water balloons, families have loved this fun way of hanging out and getting outside during the summer. Plus, you may see our very own Station 44 firefights make a surprise appearance to help make this summer a memorable one! Check out our event calendar to see where they will be when you visit.

Meet Us Under the Stars

Nothing compares to a gorgeous desert night sky in the summer. With a number of astronomical events and fun family movie nights, there is something for everyone to enjoy during the cool desert evenings.

Along with the Water Play Days, the Twentynine Palms Parks and Recreation Department hosts their annual Movies in the Park Thursday nights at Luckie Park. From modern movie hits like Luca and Soul to throwbacks like Space Jam and Little Giants, grab some lawn chairs and blankets and enjoy a relaxing movie night after a day of exploring the city. Head to our event calendar to see what’s playing when you’re here.

Aquarid Meteor ShowerLook up to the night sky this summer with 2 of our favorite meteor showers. The Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower will be making an appearance July 28-29. The shower gets its name from the constellation Aquarius, which it appears to emanate from. A truly dark sky offers the best chance of seeing the Delta Aquarids, as they tend not to be as bright as some other meteor showers. Luckily, Joshua Tree National Park is an International Dark Sky Park that allows for the shower’s perfect viewing. With a high rate of meteors per hour, the Perseids Meteor Shower is one of the most talked-about showers of the year. However, these meteors will compete this year with the Full Sturgeon Moon. The best time to view the Perseids this year will be a few hours before dawn when the Moon is closer to setting. Set your alarm for an early morning to catch a glimpse of one of the year’s best meteor showers!

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 EarthSky.org, 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 www.recreation.gov.

*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.