Lascaux Cave

Tortoise Tales: Newsletter of the

Hi-Desert Nature Museum

Seahorse in Tranquility

Exhibit Reception

We are presenting "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle," an exhibition of artwork contributed by local artists made from recycled or reused materials.  This exhibit is designed to make people rethink our throw-away society by sharing the local community's innovative and often surprising use of discarded items.  (Shown here is "Seahorse in Tranquility" by Paul Steinbeck.)  In conjunction with this exhibit, the Morongo Basin Cultural Arts Council will be displaying artwork from their "Joshua Tree National Park Rocks!" show. 


Both exhibits will be on display from March 12 through April 23. 


An opening reception will be held on Friday, March 11, from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. and is free to the public.  

Earth DayEarth Day

In honor of Earth Day, the Hi-Desert Nature Museum will celebrate the diversity of life on earth with a day of activities that will inform, educate and entertain visitors.  Local experts will be on hand to provide demonstrations for turning waste into black gold for your garden, growing your own food, and recycling.  This family-oriented event includes live animal presentations, kids' activities, and live international music and dance.  There will also be a variety of vendor booths featuring local artists and environmental education resources.  This event is made possible through the generous support of the Town of Yucca Valley and the Mojave Desert & Mountain Recycling Authority.  


Saturday, April 16, 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Admission is FREE! 

Mtn King Snake

Science Saturdays

Join us for days of discovery during Science Saturdays!  These programs will ignite your children's curiosity by presenting information and performing experiments relating to biology, earth science and chemistry.  All programs will be facilitated by our Museum Educator.  It is recommended that children be of school age for this program.  Held two Saturdays a month in March, April and May.  No pre-registration required. 


Time: 11:00 - 11:30 a.m.

Dates: March 19; April 2 & 23; and May 7 & 21


Chauvet CaveChauvet Cave

The Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Cave is a great archaeological discovery in southern France.  The cave contains the earliest known cave paintings, as well as other evidence of Upper Paleolithic life.  The cave was first explored in 1994 and includes a large number of high quality paintings in excellent condition.  Radiocarbon dating shows that the cave was occupied during two distinct periods - the Aurignacian (30,000 to 32,000 years ago) and the Gravettian (25,000 to 27,000 years ago).  Most of the artwork dates to the Aurignacian era.  Hundreds of animal paintings have been catalogued, depicting at least 13 different species, including some rarely or never found in other ice page paintings.  Rather than depicting the familiar animals of the hunt that predominate in Paleolithic cave art, the walls of Chauvet Cave are covered with predatory animals such as lions, panthers, bears, owls, rhinos, and hyenas.  Typical of most cave art, there are no paintings of complete human figures, although there is one possible "Venus" figure of a partial woman.  Abstract markings - lines and dots - are found throughout the cave.  The combination of subjects has led experts to believe that there was likely a ritual, shamanic, or magical aspect to these paintings.


Click here to visit the Chauvet Cave web site 


Last March, filmmaker Werner Herzog was given unprecedented access to Chauvet Cave to film the site's art.  The result is his film, "Cave of Forgotten Dreams," scheduled for release on March 25th.  The film, shot in 3D, is a tour of the cave, but also an exploration of what the science of archaeology is revealing about Europe's early inhabitants and the origins of the modern human mind. 


Click here to view a trailer of the movie on YouTube

Homo habilis

Homo habilis, which lived approximately 2.3 to 1.4 million years ago, is credited as one of the earliest tool users 

Paleolithic Era

The Paleolithic is a prehistoric period distinguished by the development of primitive stone tools by humans.  It extends from the earliest known use of tools to the end of the Pleistocene around 10,000 years ago.  During the Paleolithic, humans grouped together in small societies and subsisted by gathering plants and hunting.  The Paleolithic is characterized by the use of knapped stone tools, although humans also used wood, bone and other organic materials.  The materials used by Paleolithic man to paint caves was often mineral pigments such as red and yellow ochre, hematite, manganese oxide, and charcoal. 


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Visit Us on Facebook!

Keep up with the museum's events, programs and exhibitions on Facebook.  Check out the photos page with pictures of some of our great Gecko Gift Shop merchandise! 

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visit us on Facebook  

Relationships by Ellie Tyler
Joshua Tree National Park
Art Festival

Art and nature come together in charming cordiality at Joshua Tree National Park's 19th Annual Art Festival.  More than 25 artists representing a wide variety of mediums will be on hand to exhibit and sell their work.  A theme show, all work is an output of creativity inspired by the spectacle and innumerable delights to be seen in JTNP and the southwest desert.  Meet the artists and learn what it was in their desert view that so inspired their creativity.  (Shown above is "Relationships" by Ellie Tyler.)  The Festival is sponsored by the Joshua Tree National Park Association, a non-profit organization that provides support and assistance to the park's interpretive, educational and scientific programs.  For more information call (760) 367-5525. 

April 1, 2 & 3

9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

JTNP Oasis Visitor Center

Twentynine Palms

Lascaux Cave Vertical
Lascaux Cave

Although caves with paintings by early humans exist around the world, nearly 350 caves have been discovered in France and Spain that contain art from prehistoric times.  Lascaux is the setting of a complex of caves in France famous for its Paleolithic cave paintings.  They contain some of the best known Upper Paleolithic art, estimated to be 17,300 years old.  They primarily consist of primitive images of animals known from fossil evidence to have lived in the area at the time.  (Panoramic panel of Lascaux shown at top of newsletter)  

Click here to take a virtual tour of Lascaux Cave!

Visit the Museum!

The Hi-Desert Nature Museum is located in the Yucca Valley Community Center Complex at 57116 Twentynine Palms Highway.  The museum is open Tuesday - Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Admission is free; donations support the educational mission of the museum.  The Hi-Desert Nature Museum is operated by the Town of Yucca Valley. 


For more information on our programs and events contact the Hi-Desert Nature Museum at (760) 369-7212 or see our web site at


To view a full schedule of Yucca Valley events, sports programs and recreation classes visit the Town's web site at