If you live in the southwest or plan travel there early this year, here are a few opportunities to engage, explore, and learn about the desert!
If you're looking for opportunities to camp and hike some of the most remote parts of our deserts, check out the Desert Survivors - they organize frequent hikes and camping trips. You'll have to join the group (a nominal fee, and file a release). They have seven trips planned from now until April -later this month they will be exploring Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and then the Turtle Mountains in February. Membership is worth it - you'll get their regular newsletter, and contribute to the group's desert conservation service and advocacy.
The Desert Institute sponsored by the Joshua Tree National Park Associations has a robust schedule of field trips and lectures geared toward ecology, culture, and history of the desert. Although many of the events are in the vicinity of the park, some of them are further afield. From March 21 to 24, the Desert Institute is sponsoring a trip to the Tickaboo Valley north of Las Vegas for field research on the population ecology of Joshua trees. You'll get to participate in a citizen science project, and spend some quality time in a beautiful corner of the desert.
Mojave National Preserve Conservancy
The Mojave National Preserve Conservancy sponsors a number of service and educational events in the desert. They have cleaned up and restored corners of the expansive Preserve, and hosted star parties for those that enjoy gazing at the beautiful night sky above the desert.
The desert is home to a number of great wildlife refuges, and each of them usually sponsors outings. North of Las Vegas, the Desert National Wildlife Refuge is enormous, and they just completed a new educational visitor center. This is a relatively short drive from the city, and you can follow the refuge on Facebook to keep track of their special events.
The Moapa Valley National Wildlife Refuge, northwest of Las Vegas along Interstate 15, has sponsored cool night hikes and service events, including the "scorpion hunt" where refuge experts took folks on night hikes to spot and learn about these nocturnal creatures.
Kofa National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Arizona is sponsoring a full moon hike and movie night later this month.