Everyone’s invited to learn more about the history and ecosystems of this astounding place.

Here where the Mojave and Colorado desert ecosystems meet, Copper Mountain College offers activities and resources for all learners, researchers, and explorers. Bring your questions and your curiosity.

Meet the CMC Tortoises

Once more numerous, desert tortoises are losing their habitat to development and human activity.  CMC operates a tortoise preserve and continuously monitors them for protection and conservation.

Look Around

Discover our desert

Joshua Tree National Park

Copper Mountain College partners with Joshua Tree National Park for student internship opportunities and more.

Sky’s the Limit Observatory

Sky’s The Limit Observatory and Copper Mountain College have partnered to provide CMC Astronomy students with more opportunities for astronomical studies and night sky viewing.

Mojave National Preserve

Three of the four major North American Deserts come together at Mojave National Preserve, supporting a surprising diversity of plants and wildlife. A rich geologic history and a wide range of elevations throughout the park make for unique landscapes.

Death Valley National Park

In this below-sea-level basin, steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Yet, each extreme has a striking contrast. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life thrives in Death Valley.

Mojave Trails National Monument

The Mojave Trails National Monument spans 1.6 million acres of federal lands. It is a stunning mosaic of rugged mountain ranges, ancient lava flows, and spectacular sand dunes. The monument contains the longest remaining undeveloped stretch of Route 66 and some of the best preserved sites from the World War II-era Desert Training Center.

Sand to Snow National Monument

The 154,000-acre monument extends from Bureau of Land Management lands on the Sonoran desert floor up to over 10,000 feet in the San Gorgonio Wilderness on the San Bernardino National Forest.

Big Morongo Canyon Preserve

The desert oasis at Big Morongo Canyon is one of the 10 largest cottonwood and willow riparian (stream) habitats in California. Look for Chief Ranger Kaeliegh Watson, CMC’s 2023 Minerva Hoyt Intern.

Pioneertown Mountains Preserve

The 25,500-acre Pioneertown Mountains Preserve descends from the high piney 7,800-foot ridges into the Pioneertown Valley.

Mission Creek Preserve

Located in a transition zone between the Sonoran and Mojave deserts, the 4,760-acre Mission Creek Preserve has a rich species composition with flora and fauna representing both deserts.

Whitewater Preserve

Whitewater Preserve is 2,851 acres surrounded by the Bureau of Land Management’s San Gorgonio Wilderness and includes the year-round Whitewater River.

Coachella Valley Preserve

A 20,000 acre sanctuary home to several species of increasingly rare wildlife.

Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve

The Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve has 880 acres and is contiguous with other conserved areas that are collectively known as the Coachella Valley Preserve System.

Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains Nat. Monument

A 280,000 acre national monument rising from the desert floor to nearly 11,000 feet.

San Bernardino National Forest

From the arid deserts to the tallest alpine mountains in Southern California, the San Bernardino National Forest is recognized as a top destination for people escaping the urban grind for a peaceful retreat in nature.

Noah Purifoy Outdoor Museum

A permanent cultural center and sculpture park open to the public; to promote public recognition and appreciation for the values that Noah Purifoy’s work as artist and educator has embodied.

Hi Desert Nature Museum

For 50+ years, the museum has dedicated itself to showing the culture and history of the area.

Desert Institute

The Desert Institute offers classes ranging from desert studies to survival skills.

Hwy 62 Open Studio Art Tours

The premiere visual arts event of the year for the hi-desert. More than 40 Copper Mountain College art students participated in the 2023 Art Tours.

Johnson Valley OHV Area

Johnson Valley Off Highway Vehicle Area. Johnson Valley is a varied landscape for the off-highway vehicle driver. It is punctuated by steep red rocky mountains, rolling hills, open valley, dry lake beds and sandy washes. Elevations range from 4,600 feet at Hartwell Hills to 2,300 feet at Melville Dry Lake.

Conservation Efforts

Native American Land Conservancy

The Native American Land Conservancy protects and restores sacred sites and areas, provides educational programming for Native American youth and the general public, and conducts scientific studies on cultural, biological, and historical resources on sacred lands.

Morongo Basin Conservation Association

The Morongo Basin Conservation Association is dedicated to preserving the environment in the Morongo Basin since 1969.

Mojave Desert Land Trust

The Mojave Desert Land Trust is actively engaged in the conservation of native plant and animal species, and the protection of the unique desert environment and its cultural heritage for generations to come.


The Alliance for Water Awareness and Conservation is dedicated to achieving water conservation goals in the Mojave Desert.

Desert Managers Group

The Desert Managers Group (DMG) was established to provide a forum for government agencies to work together to conserve and enhance the California Deserts for current and future generations.

Mojave Desert Resource Conservation District

The Mojave Desert Resource Conservation District is committed to the development of a land stewardship ethic that promotes long-term sustainability of the region’s rich and diverse natural resource heritage.

Mojave Water Agency

Formed in 1960, the Agency is responsible for managing groundwater resources in the Mojave River Basin and Morongo Basin.

National Parks Conservation Association: JT

SummerTree Institute

“Making Environmental Education Irresistible”

More Resources

Contact Admissions

Admissions & Records
300 Quad
6162 Rotary Way
Joshua Tree, CA 92252
Phone: 760.366.3791 or  760.366.5201 ext. 4232