Ready for the Star Party?

If you plan on attending the Star Party and National Park Service Centennial Celebration this Saturday, November 5, 2016, see below for more information.


We'll begin to gather at the Black Canyon Group and Equestrian Campground pavillion around 5pm on Saturday, November 5.  For those that have never camped before, it's a good idea to get to your campsite and set up your tent before sunset (around 5:40 pm on Saturday).

The Mojave National Preserve has a lot to offer, so we also encourage you to get to the Preserve early in the day and explore before heading over to the campground, or check out other areas on Sunday morning.  On the other side of the Providence Mountains from the group campground you can check out the Kelso Depot visitor center to learn about the Preserve and its history, or the Kelso Dunes to get an up-close look at the fragile dune ecology.  The Cima Dome area offers a dense Joshua tree woodland and an opportunity to hike the excellent Teutonia Peak Trail.  If you have less time, there is a nice trail that lets you explore the vicinity of the Hole-in-the-Wall vistor center near the group campground, including cool geologic formations and Native American rock art.

A bit about the location:

The Star Party will be held at the Black Canyon Group and Equestrian Camprground in the Mojave National Preserve.  Camping is free for the Star Party, and we're expecting a good turnout.  As many as 90 people RSVP'd.  If the Black Canyon campsite is too crowded for your taste, the Hole-in-the-Wall Campground is a very short drive away - about one mile.  For more information on camping in the Preserve, check out the National Park Service's website.

To get to the Black Canyon Group and Equestrian Campground (marked in the Google map, below), take Interstate 40 to the Essex Road exit.  Drive north on Essex Road until you reach the junction with Black Canyon Road.   The Black Canyon Group Campground is approximately 10 miles north on Black Canyon Road on the right side.  There is a short stretch of dirt road to get to the campground from Black Canyon Road, but it is maintained and fine for 2WD vehicles.  The Hole-in-the-Wall campground is also located along Black Canyon Road, just a bit further north on the left hand side.  In the same vicinity you will also see the Hole-in-the-Wall Visitor Center.


Astronomers will set up their telescopes on the cement pad in the Black Canyon Group Campground, and there is a covered pavillion next to the cement pad with picnic tables. Campers are welcome to set up tents in the open areas around the group campsite. 


As of Wednesday, November 2, the National Weather Service is forecasting clear skies for Saturday night.  The high during the day will be 72 at the campground location, and lows that night are forecast to be in the low 50s or upper 40s.  Bring warm layers for the nighttime star viewing.

Things to Bring:

In addition to the camping gear and warm layers you would normally bring for a night in the desert, here are some other reminders:

  • Bring your curiousity and leave the grit of the city behind. 
  • Feel free to bring food to share for the potluck dinner on Saturday, but this is not a requirement.
  • Because you'll need to see where you are walking at night, bring a flashlight or headlamp. We strongly recommend red lights because they do not ruin your natural night vision.  A red light will allow you to get around the dark campground without blinding folks that are trying to enjoy the night sky in all its glory. A regular flashlight can also be converted with some red cellophane or plastic wrap covered in red marker.
  • If you plan to do some desert hiking before the Star Party or the next morning, some good walking shoes and a water bottle.