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Hiking the High Desert: Joshua Tree National Park

Program No. 20819RJ
Fulfill a dream and come to the Mojave Desert and Joshua Tree National Park, where you’ll hike amongst spectacular canyons, palm oases, towering boulders and a Joshua Tree forest.

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Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
Plan ahead.
What kind of weather can you expect? Take a look!
Please Note:
The itinerary for this program is different on certain dates.
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
Nov 2 - Nov 7, 2023
Starting at
Nov 7 - Nov 12, 2023
Starting at
Itinerary Note

This date stays at the Hyatt Palm Springs, an upgraded property, centrally located in the downtown area.

Nov 12 - Nov 17, 2023
Starting at
DATES & starting prices
Nov 2 - Nov 7, 2023
Starting at
Nov 7 - Nov 12, 2023
Starting at
Itinerary Note

This date stays at the Hyatt Palm Springs, an upgraded property, centrally located in the downtown area.

Nov 12 - Nov 17, 2023
Starting at

At a Glance

Hiking in Joshua Tree National Park and the desert surrounding Palm Springs is an opportunity not to be missed. Famous for the other-worldly Joshua Tree and geologic formations that attract elite rock climbers, the park is a desert lover’s paradise where the Sonoran and Mojave deserts meet. In the Palm Springs area hike to palm oases where water brings abundance and has created the largest density of California palm trees in the world. Ride the thrilling Palm Springs Aerial Tram for sweeping views of the Coachella Valley, the San Andreas fault zone and distant desert peaks.
Activity Level
Outdoor: Spirited
Hiking up to 6.8 miles daily on varied terrain including sandy washes and rocky, established trails with loose footing; Some spots with passage of one person at a time; Some rock scrambling and use of hands required to navigate terrain and ladders; Elevation changes of 500-1,000 ft. on hikes; Seasonal shallow stream crossings and snow. Elevations of 4,500-8,500 feet. Participants will be required to carry a minimum of 2 -3 liter of water on hikes.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Learn about the unique natural history and human cultures of this desert region from expert naturalists.
  • Explore Joshua Tree National Park including the granitic maze known as the “Wonderland of Rocks.”
  • Hike the “Indian Canyons” in the Palm Springs area and explore San Jacinto State Park, accessed by the aerial tramway.

General Notes

Due to the nature of this program, listening devices are not available.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Palm Springs: The Landscape, the History, the Lore
by Churchwell, Mary Jo
Mary Jo Churchwell depicts the desert community of Palm Springs over the last 150 years, reveling in eccentric anecdotes and inspiring landscapes. With equal doses of history, nature and personal reflection.
Desert Solitaire
by Edward Abbey
Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire, the noted author's most enduring nonfiction work, is an account of Abbey's seasons as a ranger at Arches National Park outside Moab, Utah. Abbey reflects on the nature of the Colorado Plateau desert, on the condition of our remaining wilderness, and on the future of a civilization that cannot reconcile itself to living in the natural world.
Desert Lore of Southern California
by Pepper, Choral
Renowned western writer and former Publisher of Desert Magazine, author Choral Pepper evokes the mystery and magic of southern California's desert, spinning tales of lost mines, Indian myths, legendary characters and strange natural features. She enable the explorer to experience the stories beyond the vistas along byways and trails from the Palm Springs area to the Salton Sea, down the Colorado River, and through the desert parks from Joshua Tree to Anza-Borrego.
Joshua Tree: The Complete Guide: Joshua Tree National Park
by Kaiser, James
Stunning photographs showcase the wondrous landscape of Joshua Tree National Park in this unique guidebook. Joshua Tree National Park is a desert getaway that boasts some of the most dramatic and unexpected scenery in the Southwest. This edition features updated information, as well as a newly expanded section on the geology of the park. Fascinating chapters discuss the park's history, geology, and wildlife along with a guide to desert wildflowers and maps of more than 20 of the best hikes in the park. An indispensable guide for outdoor enthusiasts, rock climbers, and vacationing families on a budget, this beautiful guidebook will enhance any traveler's collection.
Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis
by Glennon, Robert
In the middle of the Mojave Desert, Las Vegas casinos use billions of gallons of water for fountains, pirate lagoons, wave machines, and indoor canals. Meanwhile, the town of Orme, Tennessee, must truck in water from Alabama because it has literally run out. Robert Glennon captures the irony—and tragedy—of America’s water crisis in a book that is both frightening and wickedly comical. Unquenchable reveals the heady extravagances and everyday inefficiencies that are sucking the nation dry.
The Desert Smells Like Rain
by Nabhan, Gary Paul
Longtime residents of the Sonoran Desert, the Tohono O’odham people have spent centuries living off the land – a land that most modern citizens of southern Arizona consider totally inhospitable. Ethnobotanist Gary Nabhan has lived with the Tohono O’odham, long known as the Papagos, observing the delicate balance between these people and their environment. Bringing O’odham voices to the page at every turn, he writes elegantly of how they husband scant water supplies, grow crops, and utilize edible foods. Woven through his account are coyote tales, O’odham children’s impressions of the desert, and observations on the political problems that come with living on both sides of an international border. 148 pp.
Joshua Tree: Desolation Tango
by Deanne Stillman
This book captures, remarkably, the mystery and beauty of this special park. Deanne Stillman's text is beautiful, understated and precise. Galen Hunt's photographs are truly artful. This is great introduction to one the most special places on Earth. It's a poetic document along with excellent photographs. This tribute reveals the landscape of a startling country whose visa requirements are resolute inquisitiveness, an active imagination, and simple curiosity.
A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert
by Patricia Wentworth Comus (Editor)
"Once in a generation, a guide to understanding a major North American landscape comes along. This book is such a touchstone, sure to become a classic. The emphasis here is on biodiversity, mutualism, co-evolution, and, especially, ethno-relationships—the long history of connection between desert peoples and their homeland, on both sides of the border.

Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.