The city of Twentynine Palms is a community of over 27,000 people in the middle of the Mojave Desert between Los Angeles and the Colorado River. The main business district of Twentynine Palms is about five miles south of the Combat Center’s main gate.
The city is a gateway to nearby Joshua Tree National Park and is also known to attract residents seeking a dry desert climate or a place to rest while traveling to the Colorado River.
The history of Twentynine Palms has become inextricably linked with the hearty Homesteaders from the 1920s to the 1950s and later, the
Marine Corps. In early years, WWI veterans suffering the effects of mustard gas found relief from their symptoms in the dry desert climate
The Marine Corps moved to the area in the 1940s and has become home to many veterans and retirees. The 2000 census illustrates that legacy as two-thirds of the male population over age 18 in the Morongo Basin are either active duty (33%) or veterans (33%).
Today’s townspeople have inherited a history first recorded nearly 130 years ago from the Chemehuevi and Serrano Indian tribes living in the surrounding hills and near the spring they called “Marrah,” or land of little water, now known as the Oasis of Mara. These tribes held to their villages even as gold prospectors flowed into the Oasis in the 1870’s to camp and replenish water supplies but by 1913 had almost completely disappeared. It is said Twentynine Palms was named for the number of large, fine palm trees once found in the middle of the Oasis of Mara.
Twentynine Palms offers a beautiful park, a swimming pool and various sports programs including baseball, basketball and tennis. The history of the area can be taken in by a brief visit to the Twentynine Palms Museum. Operated by the Twentynine Palms Historical Society, the museum attempts to retrace the history of the area specifically to the Indians, homesteaders and miners who were the first dwellers of the desert. The museum is located at 6760 National Park Dr., Twentynine Palms.
For more information on the museum or the Historical Society, write:
Twentynine Palms Historical Society
PO Box 1926,
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277
Joshua Tree is home to the world-famous Joshua Tree National Park and is just 15 miles southwest of the Combat Center. The town serves
as the main entrance to the 558,000-acre park which draws rock climbers, campers, backpackers, photographers, artists, nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike to its beautiful desert landscapes.
With a population of around 9,500, Joshua Tree is usually 10 degrees cooler than the Coachella Valley and about 20 degrees warmer than mountain communities in the winter. Joshua Tree also boasts a lack of industrial pollution of air or water, and the climate encourages healthful living in the dry desert air.
The Hi-Desert Playhouse Cultural Center entertains residents with performances while the Recreation and Park District grounds offer playgrounds, tennis courts, handball courts and picnic facilities. Community associations, clubs, societies and organizations cover a wide range of interests including geology and arts and crafts groups. The Recreation and Park District supplies craft classes for all ages as well as the Joshua Tree County Library.
Annual celebrations for the community include the Joshua Tree Turtle Days, during the first weekend of May and an annual Christmas Pageant.
A community of more than 20,000 residents, Yucca Valley lies 20 miles southwest of the Combat Center on Highway 62. Newcomers to the desert community soon recognize the town’s namesake, the “Yucca”, Spanish for a species of desert plant bearing white flowers and can be seen as natural landscaping for many homes.
The population of the Hi-Desert has grown since the 1870’s when families began moving in to Morongo Valley all the way to Twentynine Palms to file their claims. Following World War I, many disabled veterans came here seeking healthful living conditions. The Homestead Era continued on into the 1950s when five-acre “jack-rabbit” homesteads became available. The first subdivisions, laying out of streets and the beginning of a town, were started in 1946. One was in the western end, centering at Pioneertown Road, and the other farther east along Old Woman Springs Road (also known as Highway 247).
Yucca Valley continued to grow in the years that followed, and today is a modern, progressive community with all the charm of country living.
The Big Bear area, with its truly four-season atmosphere, exists at 7,000 foot elevation and a population of around 18,000 and is situated in the heart of the San Bernardino Mountains. Big Bear is only a two-hour drive from the Combat Center and provides year-round recreation. In winter Bear Mountain and Snow Summit resorts come alive and offer their own snowmaking process. These resorts are normally open for skiing and snowboarding by mid-November and stay open until mid- to late-April.
Mountain biking is also a major sporting event during the summer and the Sky Chair is used to carry bikes to the top of the mountain. There are dozens of resorts and lodges, and many trailer/camper locations and marinas in the area. There are also public and private campgrounds with hiking and riding trails.
Big Bear Lake, popular for winter sports as well as for first-rate fishing during the summer, is more than seven miles long and one mile wide at its widest point. Rainbow trout are stocked in the lake each year and fishing is permitted all year. Sailboats, powerboats and personal watercraft are available for rent at many boat landings. There are also two public launch ramps that may be used for private crafts. An excursion steamer operates daily around the lake into the evenings during summer.
Northwest of the Combat Center at the junction of state highways 247 and 18, lies Lucerne Valley, a town of about 9,200 residents. Lucerne
Valley is noted as the world’s largest “cactus garden,” with some plants valued at up to $10,000. It is adjacent to one of the last remaining areas authorized by the Bureau of Land Management for off-road vehicles including the famous “Hammers” area. The city’s Pioneer Park has facilities
for tennis, basketball, volleyball, baseball, roller-skating and picnicking in the shade. Barbecues and playground equipment are also available. Lucerne Valley also offers a small but modern business and shopping center.
Desert Hot Springs, a city of about 13,500 residents, is a complete health resort, and lies southwest of the Combat Center off State Highway 62, three miles before it meets Interstate 10.
Relax and rejuvenate in the world-famous natural hot mineral water or share the breathtaking view of sunsets against the beautiful San Jacinto Mountains. Desert Hot Springs is one of the few locations in the world where a natural underground river of hot mineral water flows near enough to the surface to be tapped. The water temperatures come from the ground at 110 to 180 degrees. The water is cooled, kept by thermostat at 102 to 110 degrees, and used for therapy and recreation. Desert Hot Springs offers its guests warm clear days, cool nights and a 360-degree view of mountains, desert and valley.
While Palm Springs has its share of vacation activities (golf, tennis, hiking and ballooning), perhaps the best reason to travel to the resort city
is rest and recuperation. From a large selection of hotels, you will have ample opportunity to choose one that’s quaint and cozy or large and luxurious – whichever suits your vacation plans. The population of Palm Springs (approximately 46,000) enjoys swimming, as do the frequent visitors to the city, evidenced in the startling statistic of almost one swimming pool for every five residents. However, if your athletic endeavors include golf, there are 60 courses from which to choose. For the tennis player, there are more than 300 courts scattered throughout the community.
Downtown, you’ll stroll amidst aromas of European -style sidewalk cafes intermixed with flavors of neighboring Mexican restaurants as well as renowned fashion boutiques and sidewalk shops. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway can take you away to the top of San Jacinto Mountain by
its Swiss-made cable cars which depart the desert floor and, in 14 miles, traverse a gorge, rise to a height of 8,500 feet and pass through five geological zones. For more information, call the tramway office at (760) 325-1391.
Nightclubs and open-air concerts offer evening music from jazz to pop to rock to classical. For the visitor in search of the desert’s beauty there is an abundance of desert plants sure to soothe the botanist, photographer and nature-lover’s desires. There is a certain charm to the desert resort that appeals to the more private and intimate side of one’s nature.
Perhaps, it’s the palms, the warm breezes and the seemingly unending sunshine. But without a doubt, the absence of any glaring neon or flashing signs has helped Palm Springs maintain the classy, subdued look so many people find irresistible.
Located in the middle of the Coachella Valley, Palm Desert is a community of nearly 40,000 nestled against the foothills of the Santa Rosa Mountains and is home to all the world class resorts and amenities expected from a premier location. Near perfect weather, majestic scenery, numerous events and attractions, as well as sensational shopping and dining, lures thousands of visitors annually.
Palm Desert is known as the “Golf Capital of the World” for good reason. With over 30 golf courses within the city limits and more than 100 within easy driving distance, there are plenty of opportunities to putt that ball. There is also tennis, bicycling, hiking, rock climbing, swimming and many other outdoor activities available throughout the year in Palm Desert and the surrounding area.
Palm Desert’s Civic Center Park is home to free, city-sponsored events including summer concerts, movies in the park, SpringFest and a large Fourth of July celebration. The park also boasts volleyball courts, basketball courts, tennis courts, ball fields and the hugely popular skate park. There is even a dog park for Palm Desert’s four-legged residents. The world-renowned Palm Desert Golf Cart Parade is held in November and features decorated electric golf cars, marching bands, celebrities and local dignitaries. A full assortment of activities is associated with the parade, including live entertainment, children’s games, food booths and displays. While shopping or dining, check out some of the over 90 sculptures and public artworks that greet you wherever you go - in Civic Center Park, along El Paseo, and at the entrance to most centers
Stretching for miles in every direction are date palm tree groves that make Indio the Date Capital of the United States. The largest date garden concentration outside the Near East is in or near Indio. Centered in the Coachella Valley, along Interstate 10 at the junction of State Highways 86 and 111, Indio is about a 95-minute drive south of the Combat Center. A more scenic though slower route through Joshua Tree National Park can be taken via the park entry south of Twentynine Palms.
Indio is known as “The City of Festivals” with eight major events happening throughout the year, including the Indio International Tamale Festival the first weekend in December. Over 120,000 attend annually and consume over 300,000 tamales. The Southwest Arts Festival brings outstanding fine art and crafts to the Empire Polo Club in Indio each year and runs for three days. During that time approximately 250 artists sell more than $1,000,000 worth of their works. The Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival accounts for 10 days in February with entertainment ranging from camel and ostrich races, concerts by well-known entertainers, the daily Arabian Nights Pageant to carnival rides, county fair entries and displays. There are two Native American Pow Wows in November and December. The Fourth of July Festival includes entertainment, food, fun and fireworks. Indio now hosts the Coachella Music and Arts Festival on the spacious grounds of the Empire Polo Club where over 120,000 attend over two days.
A trip to Indio should include a visit to Lake Cahuilla, just south of the city, and to the All-American Canal, which brings water to the valley from the Colorado River and passes along the northwest edge of the city. Indio is on the way to the hunting, fishing, speedboat races, waterskiing and sailing to be found at the expansive Salton Sea, located 20 miles southeast of the city.
The Twentynine Palms Installation Guide is published by Benchmark Publications Incorporated, a private firm in no way connected with the U.S. Marine Corps, under exclusive written contract with the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms. The appearance of advertising in this publication, including inserts and supplements, does not constitute endorsement by the U.S. Marine Corps or Benchmark Publications Incorporated of the products or services advertised. Everything advertised in this publication shall be made available for purchase, use or patronage without regarded to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, marital status, physical handicap, political affiliation or any other non-merit factor other purchaser, user or patron.
If a violation or rejection of this equal opportunity policy by an advertiser is confirmed, the publisher shall refuse to print advertising from that source until the violation is corrected. The Twentynine Palms Guide is an unofficial publication authorized by AR 360-1. Editorial content is prepared, edited and provided by the Public Affairs Office of MCAGCC, Twentynine Palms.