Despite all of the turmoil and uncertainty in our daily lives, we can still find solace and peace in nature, away from our homes and computer screens. Our classes are designed to help you to unclutter your minds and to enjoy the comfort of being out-of-doors with like minded people. We designed our programs for a safe and enjoyable educational experience.
In order to provide safe classes, we had to reduce our class sizes by as much as 40% which has had an impact on our revenues. We wish to thank those participants who either cancelled their registration or experienced a cancelled class and then offered to donate their enrollment fees to support the Desert Institute. These gestures show the loyalty or our audiences in supporting "in person" education. We will keep you informed as to how you can help us in our goals for educational excellence.
What goes into making a great landscape photograph? You can find scores of articles that promise you will master landscape photography in 10 steps or take your photography to the next level in 5 steps or shoot like a pro in 7 steps. These articles keep on appearing. And most offer valid tips. But it’s not that easy. We can’t promise you that you will be a master landscape photographer at the end of this course. What we can promise is you will have a much clearer idea of what is involved in pursuing this journey. We will provide practical guidelines on the gear you need and how to get the most out of it, the creative use of exposure and sharpness, the use of composition and light to create a mood or convey what inspired you to take the photograph, the magic that happens in the digital darkroom and how to unleash the artist within you. This class offers an optional but exciting camping experience in the pristine Lost Horse campground. Note: arrangements will be made for those preferring to sleep with something more substantial over their heads than rip-stop nylon. Plan to make accommodations in Twentynine Palms and meet at the Oasis Visitor center to head out to the shooting locations.
November 6 - 8 Geology and Geomorphology of Death Valley* In this below-sea-level basin, steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Yet, each extreme has a striking contrast. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow, but the valley bottom can reach almost 130°F in summer. While rainstorms maybe uncommon, they bring many dramatic changes to the landscape. Join instructor Alessandro Grippo in the exploration of the geology and landscape of Death Valley. This course takes the students through the geologic highlights of Death Valley National Park. The class meets at Furnace Creek Visitor Center on Friday morning and, after an introduction to the geology of the Basin and Range desert and its natural physical processes, students will travel south by car to hike the Natural Bridge trail. They will then head back to the valley bottom to explore the playa lake at Badwater, with further stops during the day at Devils Golf Course and Artists Palette. On Saturday the class will visit Devils Cornfield and then wander through the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. After lunch at Stovepipe Wells, students will hike and explore Mosaic Canyon. Finally, on Sunday the class will drive to the westernmost part of the park by entering the Panamint Valley and later go for an easy hike at Darwin’s falls to complete their exploration. Please note that the registration does not include accommodations or meals. We have reserved campsites in Death Valley for this class for those who wish to camp. *This class earns 2 college units from University of California, Riverside Extension.
California is a state defined by plate tectonics, motion, continental drift, and subduction zones. Join geologist Ted Reeves as he explains the origin and effects of the San Andres Fault system. Reeves will unfold the geologic story of the Indio Hills, the Mecca Hills and Salton Trough in this all-day field class. Participants will meet in the Coachella Valley and walk a short distance to see fault features. We will then travel to Box Canyon and Painted Canyon and observe spectacular faults and folds where the Pacific plate is forcing up the Mecca Hills. Reeves will illuminate fault-related features in the field with special emphasis on physical deformations of the landscape. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to explore the San Andreas fault zone and the palm oases!
The Wonderland of Rocks Overlook is a high vantage point with fine views of the upper Queen Valley along with Quail Mountain, the park’s highest peak. Mount San Jacinto and San Gorgonio can be seen as well. If luck is with us, Desert Bighorn sheep might be observed on some of the rocky out cropping’s that are found along our infrequently traveled path. 3 miles RT
November 14 Photographing the Hi DesertGrab your camera and put on your hiking boots for this intensive all-day photo shoot in Joshua Tree National Park! Craig Fucile will guide the class in seeing the natural beauty of the park through the camera lens. The class will begin with early morning light at the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve followed by a mid-morning instructional program at Black Rock Canyon Visitor Center. The afternoon session will relocate to a special “photographers only” session at Keys Ranch, focusing on how to capture the buildings and historic remnants at this remarkable homestead. Fucile will share tips on how to record unique rock formations and vast views of the park. Participants are encouraged to bring a tripod with their camera(s). This class is sponsored by the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve
November 14 -15 Wilderness Cooking Class
Have you ever noticed that when you are out in the wilderness, everything tastes better? Back in the days of the Wild West, Dutch ovens were like gold. They were that important. Nowadays, the mere thought of try ing to survive in the wild sends shivers down people’s spines. The thing is, pretty much anything you make at home in the tradition al oven and on the stovetop can be made in the wild in a Dutch oven. Bread? No problem. Pie? Absolutely. Stew? A no-brainer. The curriculum includes lessons on meal planning and culinary tech niques with an emphasis on cast iron, campfire and propane stove/oven cooking. You will also learn basic baking, grilling and survival food preparation skills. Meal ingredients for Saturday dinner, Sunday breakfast and Sunday lunch are included in the course fee. Learn how rewarding it is to cook in the refreshing air of Joshua Tree Park. After dinner, professional photographer Scott Klinger will cover the basics of night photography to enable you to document your campfire creations To create a good appetite, hikes are scheduled for both Saturday and Sunday. This class will be conducted at the reserved Lost Horse Campground that we have reserved for the program.
November 15 Contemporary Art of Joshua TreeJoshua Tree and environs are well known for the burgeoning artist community that has been drawn here. The local contemporary art scene is vibrant and a healthy companion to the music community that has flourished in the area. Bernard Leibov, Director of BoxoPROJECTS, takes us though his highlights of the local cultural scene. After an introduction and orientation in the classroom, Bernard will take us on the road to visit several of the interesting art sites in the area.
a docent-led tour of Noah Purifoy Outdoor Museum
a visit to the public sculptures at A-Z West, the experiment in living by Andrea Zittel
lunch and a tour at BoxoPROJECTS, home to a residency program as well as the Joshua Treenial
studio visits with local artists
cap the day off with a stop at Art Queen and local art galleries
This Thanksgiving weekend, skip the lines at the stores and #OptOutside with Hiking My Feelings and the Desert Institute for a retreat that brings us back to the important part of this weekend - gratitude - and centers wellness in the wilderness.
Join author and founder of Hiking My Feelings, Sydney Williams, to learn how to start a meaningful gratitude practice and how doing so can enrich all aspects of your life, increase resiliency, and aid in processing complex emotions and situations. Over the course of the retreat, you’ll learn about limiting beliefs and discover how to develop a healthy relationship with your Inner Critic to overcome adversity and bring your whole self to life, love, and work.
This weekend retreat is a combination of guided self-discovery exercises, hiking, wilderness wellness practices, and community support.
The Twentynine Palms Old Schoolhouse and the Desert Institute present the third presentation of the ten month series on Friday, November 13
Desert Institute Safety Protocols and Our Promises to You
Classrooms will be disinfected and hand sanitizer stations will be available.
Face coverings will be required for both indoor and outdoor programs.
Social distancing will be required. Please be respectful to your neighbors in our programs.
Class sizes have been reduced to allow for social distancing. When possible, we will eliminate some classroom lectures and replace them with pre-recorded lectures that you can access and view from the safety of your home prior to the class field component.
We have eliminated the penalty fees for cancellation of course registrations. If you feel ill prior to any class, please cancel to protect our instructors, volunteers and the other participants of Desert Institute classes.
We will no longer encourage carpooling. You may drive your own vehicle for personal safety.
Our instructors and volunteers will have the authority to enforce the community rules. If these rules are not acceptable to you, please don’t register. We reserve the right to deny a student participation in the course due to concerns regarding health and safety issues.
These protocols may be reviewed and changed as needed.
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