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A Southern California Kaleidoscope:
Palomar, Anza-Borrego, Salton Sea, and Joshua Tree

Saturday January 15 to Monday January 17, 2011

JOIN US AS WE TRAVEL from Pasadena to Palomar Observatory for a personalized tour (weather permitting) of the world-class center of astronomical research that is owned and operated by the California Institute of Technology. We will get a behind-the-scenes tour (led by paleontologist George T. Jefferson) of the Anza-Borrego State Park Visitor’s Center and its outstanding fossil collections representing three million years of history.

troup carrier

California Overland Desert Excursion’s offroad vehicle.

On day two, we will travel [off road] in open-air jeeps and military troop-carriers on an approximately eight-hour desert adventure with California Overland Desert Excursion. Our exclusive Split Mountain tour rumbles up Fish Creek Wash to Split Mountain Gorge. Rock rises steeply on both sides exhibiting fascinating geologic features. Soon you will enter the insides of Split Mountain itself — the ancient torrents of Fish Creek have literally carved this mountain in half. You’ll feel dwarfed by this enormous slot canyon where massive rock walls tower impossibly above you.

Wind caves photo by Michael Gilmore

Wind Caves (photo by Michael Gilmore)

On day three, we will begin by visiting Obsidian Butte. Salton Buttes are four small volcanoes designated from southwest to northeast as Obsidian Butte, Rock Hill, Red Island, and Mullet Island. Obsidian Butte consists of a central dome of rhyolite surrounded on all sides by a single rhyolite flow. We will also see the Salton Sea geothermal field, which is the largest of three major geothermal energy production sites in the Salton Sea. Before leaving the area, we will continue to the Salton Sea State Recreation Area Visitor’s Center. We will then travel to Joshua Tree National Park. Emphasis will be on the junction of three of California’s ecosystems: the Colorado Desert, the Mojave Desert and, and the the Little San Bernardino Mountains.

For trip highlights and photographs, be sure to read Michael Shermer’s post about this particular trip.

READ the blog post
about this tour

Tour package includes charter bus, 2 nights at a hotel with breakfast, picnic lunch all 3 days, snacks and water, lectures by various experts, park admission, off road transportation, and a guide booklet. Your trip fee also includes a tax deductible $150 donation to the Skeptics Society. You are on your own for evening meals. There are several nice restaurants within short walking distance of the hotel.


Richard Dawkins has been added to an already outstanding lineup of speakers for the May 29–31 Skeptics Society Conference!

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