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California Desert Museums

Desert Museums Overview


California Desert Museums include the Laws Railroad Museum, Manzanar, Maturango Museum, Air Force Flight Test Center Museum, General Patton Memorial Museum, Palm Springs Air Museum, Palm Springs Art Museum, Agua Caliente Cultural Museum and Children's Discovery Museum of the Desert. The Maturango Museum in Ridgecrest organizes tours to the Coso Petroglyphs. From Bishop to Anza-Borrego and Death Valley to Palm Springs, discover an interesting museum in the Desert.

North Mojave Museums

Laws Railroad Museum is located north of Bishop on Route 6. Laws represents an entire historic train yard with buildings, trains and artifacts from the early days of train travel. It features an original 1883 train depot, steam engine with cars, caboose, box cars, 1909 Inyo school house, wagon barn, fire station, print shop and much, much more.

Laws Railroad Museum
Railroad Street
Bishop, California 93515
(760) 873-5950

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Manzanar Internment Camp

Manzanar National Historic Site is located just outside the town of Independence off Highway 395. Manzanar is the site of a World War II relocation camp for citizens of Japanese descent. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the American government grew suspicious of Japanese-Americans and decided to place them in camps where their activities could be monitored. Little remains of the original camp. View artifacts left behind and historical facts and documents about the camp.

Manzanar National Historic Site
5001 Highway 395
Independence, California 93526
(760) 878-2932

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Maturango Museum is located off China Lake Blvd (Highway 178). It focuses on the natural and cultural history of the Upper Mojave Desert. Exhibits include wildlife, paleontology, geology, art and more. Tours to the world-famous Coso Petroglyphs are arranged through the museum. This is the largest known concentration of Indian petroglyphs in the western hemisphere. The Coso Petroglyphs are on military property so it is mandatory to have a Navy-approved guide from Maturango.

Maturango Museum
100 East Las Flores Avenue
Ridgecrest, CA 93555
(760) 375-6900

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South Mojave Museums

Air Force Flight Test Center Museum is located east of Highway 14 near Mojave. This is where the NASA Space Shuttle used to make its landings when the weather in Florida was not favorable. Edwards has served as the base for many notable events in aviation history including the breaking of sound barriers. It was featured in the Hollywood movie, The Right Stuff. Edwards is an Air Force flight test center for new aircraft. Exhibits include the latest in U.S. military arsenal like the F-22 fighter and 34J Firebee drone to the historic X-1 and SR-71A Blackbird.

Air Force Flight Test Center
Edwards Air Force Base
405 S. Rosamond Blvd
Edwards AFB, CA 93524
(661) 277-8050

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High Desert Nature Museum is located off Highway 62 near the 247 junction. Situated in the Yucca Valley Community Center building, it focuses on the desert environment including animals, plants, cultural heritage and natural history. Some exhibits explain the geology of the nearby Joshua Tree National Park.

High Desert Nature Museum
57116 29 Palms Highway
Yucca Valley, California 92284
(760) 369-7212

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Tank at the General Patton Memorial Museum

General Patton Memorial Museum is located off Highway 10 between Indio and Desert Center. This military history museum features exhibits ranging from World War I through the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. The location was the heart of the Desert Training Center of WWII and General Patton's headquarters.

General Patton Memorial Museum
62510 Chiriaco Rd
Chiriaco Summit, CA 92201
(760) 227-3483

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Palm Springs Museums

Cabot's Pueblo is located north of Interstate 10 from Palm Drive. Cabot's Pueblo is a Hopi-inspired pueblo made of reclaimed and found objects. Originally constructed in 1939, the pueblo is four-stories, 5,000 square feet and includes 35 rooms. It was built by homesteader and Desert Hot Springs' founder, Cabot Yerxa.

Cabot's Pueblo Museum
67616 East Desert View Avenue
Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240
(760) 329-7610

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Children's Discovery Museum of the Desert is located south of Interstate 10 from Bob Hope Drive. It features a hands-on experience that inspires & promotes intellectual curiosity and self-expression in children. Exhibits include Archaeologist Dig, Rope Maze, Gravity Ball Fall, Animal Tracking Station and many more.

Children's Discovery Museum of the Desert
71701 Gerald Ford Drive
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
(760) 321-0602

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Palm Springs Air Museum

Palm Springs Air Museum is located off Interstate 10 and Gene Autry Trail at the Palm Springs Airport. It memorializes the men and women that fought in war, particularly WWII. It has one of the largest collections of WWII warplanes and artifacts in the world. In addition, many modern-day fighters and bombers are on display. Don't miss their scaled-down models of naval ships or the tour through the inside of a B-17 Flying Fortress. Many events are held here each year from musical celebrations to memorials like the Memorial Day Flower Drop. Former military pilots are on hand to offer information and answer questions.

Palm Springs Air Museum
745 North Gene Autry Trail
Palm Springs, California 92262
(760) 778-6262

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Palm Springs Art Museum is located off Interstate 10 and Palm Canyon Drive. This is the only major art museum in the region and features displays of art and natural sciences. Exhibits include photography, paintings, sculpture and wildlife with an emphasis on California. Here you can see what the gila monster looks like, one of the desert's most venomous creatures.The Annenberg Theatre is also part of the museum and hosts performances of ballet, classical music and theatrical plays.

Palm Springs Art Museum
101 Museum Drive
Palm Springs, California 92262
(760) 325-7186

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Agua Caliente Cultural Museum is located off Interstate 10 and Palm Canyon Drive. Situated in Downtown Palm Springs, exhibits include basketry, ceramics, archaeological artifacts and photographs. See bone tools, stone mortars, bottles, pipes and more. The Agua Caliente Indians were some of the first to inhabit the Coachella Valley and the museum documents their culture from past to present. Learn about the spiritual importance of the Indian Canyons.

Agua Caliente Cultural Museum
219 South Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, California 92262
(760) 778-1079

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