Golden Monkey in Tree

Tortoise Tales: Newsletter of the Hi-Desert

Nature Museum 

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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle & JTNP Rocks! Exhibitions

Seahorse in Tranquility
Don't miss your chance to view these two fabulous art shows on display through April 23 in our Temporary Exhibit Gallery!


Golden Monkeys

Golden Monkey with Baby
Chinese children are familiar with the legend of a magical monkey called "Sunwukong" (Monkey King), who helps the weak and fights evil.  But the real monkeys are fighting mankind for their own survival.  There are three species of golden monkeys who live in the forests of China.  Golden monkeys live in large groups and seem to have a hierarchical society, like baboons.  The areas they live are snowbound in the winter.  To adapt to the cold, golden monkeys have developed robust bodies and long thick fur.  Golden monkeys are rare and just beginning to be studied.  Their habitats are disappearing rapidly as the forests are cleared for more pastures, villages and roads.  Golden monkeys are considered mascots of good luck in China, and they have been placed under state protection.  Shown above is a golden monkey holding her 1-month old baby while eating a strawberry.  



Green Planet ImageEarth Day 2011 

The museum's much anticipated Earth Day Fair will feature live music, dancing, artists, and vendors in a family-oriented environment.  Nature organizations attending include Joshua Tree National Park, Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, Mojave Desert Land Trust, Wildlands Conservancy, and many more.  Over 20 local artists will be displaying jewelry and artwork inspired by our desert environment, and the Joshua Basin Water District will be sharing information about their new Demo Garden.  A face painter and hands-on crafts will be available for our younger visitors.  This event is made possible through the generous support of the Town of Yucca Valley and the Mojave Desert & Mountain Recycling Authority. 

Saturday, April 16th, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
FREE Admission!

Science Saturdays

Boy with Magnifying GlassJoin 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.  No pre-registration required. 


Time:  11:00 - 11:30 a.m.
Dates and Subjects:  April 23, Meet a Tree
May 7, Plate Tectonics & May 21, Chemical Reactions

Desert in Bloom

SphaeralciaIn celebration of the desert's wildflower season, the museum is presenting "Desert in Bloom," a display featuring properly identified local specimens.  Wildflower books are available to help visitors identify plants.  For the artist in all of us, we've included a table with wildflower coloring sheets.  


This exhibit will run for the duration of the High Desert blooming season.





Painting by Rose LedgerwoodYucca Valley High School Art Show
This exhibition highlights the finest work of some of this community's rising talent from Yucca Valley High School.  Curated by YVHS art teacher Bruce Hamilton, the show displays a variety of subjects in different mediums such as drawing and painting.  (Painting shown here by Rose Ledgerwood)

On Display April 26 - June 5
Opening Reception Friday, April 29, 4:30 - 6:00 p.m.
Free to the public
Frank Critzer

1st Wednesday Program 

Frank Critzer and the Legend of Giant Rock

Back by Popular Demand!

Part 1 of a 2 Part Series
Barbara Harris will present a comprehensive program on Giant Rock and the mystery surrounding Frank Critzer, the eccentric man who made his home under the 25,000 ton bounder.  She will reveal compelling evidence to the questions: Was he a German Spy? Why was he under investigation by the FBI?  And finally, the truth behind his dramatic death.  Part 2 will be presented on June 1st where Barbara will continue the story with George Van Tassel and the Integratron.
Wednesday, May 4th, starting at 5:30 p.m.
$5 donation to the MBHS at the door 
Space is limited!  Arrive early!

Easter Bunny WhiteEaster

Have you ever wondered why Easter Sunday can fall anywhere between March 22 and April 25?  Beginning in 325 AD with the Council of Nicea, the Western Church decided to establish a standardized system for determining the date of Easter.  Early astronomers were able to approximate the dates of all the full moons in future years, thus establishing a table of Ecclesiastical Full Moon dates.  This lunar table determines Holy Days.  The Paschal (Passover) Full Moon is the first Ecclesiastical Full Moon date after March 20.  So, in Western Christianity, Easter is always celebrated on the Sunday immediately following the Paschal Full Moon.  The Paschal Full Moon can vary as much as two days from the date of the actual full moon, with dates ranging from March 21 to April 18.  As a result, Easter dates can range from March 22 through April 25.  To make the matter even more complicated, Western churches use the Gregorian Calendar to calculate the date of Easter and Eastern Orthodox churches use the Julian Calendar.  This is why Eastern Orthodox churches often celebrate Easter on a different day than Western churches.  Every few years Western and Orthodox Easter dates coincide.  The aim of the Easter dating method is to maintain, for Easter Sunday, the same season of the year and the same relationship to the preceding full moon that occurred at the time of Jesus' resurrection.
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
Our 2010 Annual Report is now available for viewing on the museum web site.
To view a full schedule of Yucca Valley events, sports programs and recreation classes visit the Town's web site at