Get a closer look at the sky from this observatory, which also has nature and wilderness trails, mechanical models of the solar system, a meditation garden, and welded steel sculptures. Occasionally they host a two-day Night Sky Festival for all ages, plus telescope clinics where guests can bring in their telescopes and learn how to set up, align and operate them. Just be aware there's no running water on the campus.
In case the dozens of storefront signs advertising “Marine haircuts” don't make it clear, Twentynine Palms is a military town. The Marine base (Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center) is quite far from the highway and neighboring Joshua Tree National Park, but on certain days artillery blasts reverberate toward the civilian homes, shops, and restaurants in this otherwise sleepy town.
Twentynine Palms is built along Highway 62, the main thoroughfare from Interstate 10 through Joshua Tree and toward Arizona. Though linked by dusty roads to nearby cities and the national park, the more isolated Twentynine Palms feels distinct from its neighbors. Vibrating beneath this serene city is offbeat energy that thrives on the outskirts of civilization.
Just be sure to pack your sunscreen and lots of water before making the trek out to the desert, and set your expectations accordingly for slow-paced, small-town living.