Offsite Sessions

Saturday, December 4



The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens

Giraffes, rhinos, and… white stemmed milkweed? With a variety of both animals and botanical gardens, The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is a hidden gem in the desert. Top-notch education and interpretive team led by JJ Leissing, and world renowned conservation team lead by Dr. James Danoff-Burg (NAI 2021 Overall Chair!) The second phase of their capital campaign will hopefully be open November 2021 in time for NAI 2021 with two black rhinos and other African animals.  

This three-hour field trip experience will provide conference attendees an opportunity to tour the grounds of The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens with interpretive guides. The tour will highlight the messaging and spaces used by staff and volunteers to interpret the unique conservation and animal stories of The Living Desert. The tour will include behind the scenes opportunities, scenic walkthroughs of gardens and exhibits, and a chance to see backstage interpretive areas and resources. During the excursion, attendees will also have some scheduled free time to explore The Living Desert on their own!

Bus departs the Westin Mission Hills at 8:30 am, and returns at 12:30 pm.  

Wear layers and comfortable walking shoes. Bringing your own water bottle is recommended. ADA accommodations available with advanced notice. 

COST: $50 (includes transportation and entrance to TLD)
Minimum participants: 10
Maximum participants: 40

The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens

  • 13 of 40 max participants.



Indian Canyons

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla have called Palm Springs and the areas around the Coachella Valley and Salton Sea home since time immemorial. They built and inhabited complex communities in the Palm, Murray, Andreas, Tahquitz, and Chino canyons of the area. With an abundant water supply, the plants, animals, and people thrived. Nestled at the base of the Mt. San Jacinto, the Indian Canyons park is a tribally owned and operated area that houses the world's largest stand of California Fan Palms (Washingtonia filifera), with more than 3,000 native palms supplied by abundant water found in the canyons. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Indian Canyons is a place to take in the beauty of the indigenous flora and fauna, experience breathtaking rocky gorges, explore the wandering streams and footpaths, and discover the industrious, creative, and independent world of the Agua Caliente. 

The three-hour field trip experience will give attendees a chance to participate in tribal ranger led interpretive hikes for those looking to hike or ranger talks for those seeking a less strenuous experience. There will also be time and ability provided to attendees to explore the canyons on their own or visit the park’s trading post. 

Bus departs the Westin Mission Hills at 8:30 am and returns at 12:30 pm

Wear layers and bring sun protection options such as hats, sunscreen, and sunglasses. Hiking boots or closed-toed shoes are strongly encouraged. Bringing your own water bottle is highly recommended. Food will not be provided, so bring snacks if you require them. ADA accommodations available with advance notice.

COST: $50 (includes transportation, and park entrance fee)
MInimum participants: 20
Maximum participants: 50

Indian Canyons

  • 38 of 50 max participants.



Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park has a variety of meanings to the diverse groups who visit it. It is a place to reconnect with nature, push their boundaries, experience history, find inspiration, discover the night sky, and create memories. For those who choose to attend this field trip, these will all be available options! With the help of Joshua Tree’s interpretive operations branch, education team, communications branch, and park partners such as the Joshua Tree National Park Association, Sky’s the Limit, and JTLAB you will be introduced to all of the wonderful people involved in making Joshua Tree special for those visiting in person or virtually. 

This six-hour field trip experience will provide conference attendees a variety of options to split off and investigate the topics that interest them. Attendees will have the choice to participate in interpretive tours of the park and historic sites for their preferred difficulty level, strenuous scrambles through the boulders, examples of virtual and in person education programs, presentations and discussions on park partnerships, and examples of the unique and diverse ways Joshua Tree is interacting with it’s visitors, and more. The trip will then end with a whole group experience of the dark night skies of the desert. This trip will be a chance for conference attendees to find their own special connections to the magical experience that is Joshua Tree National Park. 

Bus departs the Westin Mission Hills at 11:00 am and returns at 8:00 pm

Bring a jacket or wear layers for cooler evening temperatures. Closed-toed shoes are a must, and hiking boots are highly encouraged for those who want to participate in rock scrambling and more strenuous hiking. Don’t forget sun protection such as  hats, sunscreen, and sunglasses.  Your own water bottle is a must as water stations are not available inside the national park. ADA accommodations available with advance notice.

COST: $100 (includes transportation, lunch, light dinner, and park entrance fee )
Minimum participants: 40
Maximum participants 150

Joshua Tree National Park

  • 57 of 150 max participants.



San Andreas Fault Red Jeep Tour & Hike

Rugged canyons, fascinating geology, and abundant desert flora are hidden in some of the remote and tough to find areas of the Coachella Valley. Luckily, the many NAI Certified Interpretive Guide naturalists with the Red Jeep Tours know the tricks to helping find these secluded beautiful areas. With the use of their rugged 4x4 red passenger Jeeps on extremely minimal impact trails through the desert landscape, attendees will experience miles of pristine desert. Nestled at the base of the Indio Hills at the northeastern end of the Coachella Valley, Metate Ranch features over 800-acres of private property to explore and learn about geology, seismology, native palm oases, and indigenous Cahuilla communities.

This three-hour field trip experience will include guided hikes through slot canyons, and plenty of time spent bouncing around and reveling in the thrill of being in the back of one of their wonderful passenger jeeps. The tour will be split into time in the jeep and time on the ground exploring the rugged landscape of the San Andreas Fault. It will end with a rest stop and refreshments at a recreated Cahuilla Village exhibit which showcases the lifestyle and culture of the peoples who have occupied the area since time immemorial. 

Highly suggested to wear close-toed and rubber soled shoes such as tennis shoes or hiking boots and wear comfortable clothing/layers  for the variety of desert temperatures. Bringing your own water bottle is recommended, but light snacks and beverages will be included at the end of the tour. ADA accommodations NOT available.

Bus departs the Westin Mission Hills at 9:00 am, returns at 1:00 pm

COST: $100 (includes transportation, light snacks, and interpretive jeep and hiking tour)
Minimum participants: 10
Maximum participants: 70 

San Andreas Fault Red Jeep Tour & Hike

  • 29 of 70 max participants.



Palm Springs Historical Society Walking and Bicycle Tours

Palm Springs has been inhabited by the Indigenous communities since time immemorial. In 1884, the first permanent white resident bought land and made Palm Springs his home. The Palm Springs Historical Society is a non-profit organization founded in 1955, and the original walking tour for the city of Palm Springs. The PSHS looks to capture the changes and developments of the area since the time of the westward migration. They offer tours focusing on historic neighborhoods, distinguished mid century architects, builders, and inhabitants who contributed to the city’s modern image. 

This two-hour field trip experience will give attendees two possible ways to explore the history and architecture of Palm Springs. Attendees can choose to participate in one of two walking tour options that will cover either the “Heart of the City” or the “Rat Pack Playground.” The former will walk through the heart of downtown with a guide to help shed light on the forward thinking women who built this town and the midcentury architects whose Modernist vision launched this world-renowned getaway oasis. The latter will look at the work of the “Alexanders” and the trendy midcentury tract developments that appear custom designed for their famous inhabitants. When biking, you’ll be able to cruise the neighborhoods with a docent, viewing incredible architecture, celebrity homes, and stunning scenery. Tour lengths can range anywhere from 3/4ths of a mile to 2 miles, depending on the tour. However, the terrain will be fairly flat in most areas. 

Bus departs the Westin Mission Hills at 8:30 am, and returns at 12:00 pm 

Highly suggested to wear close-toed or comfortable shoes, wear comfortable clothing/layers for the variety of desert temperatures. Don’t forget sun protection such as a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses. Bringing your own water bottle is recommended. ADA accommodations NOT available and be advised that there are no bathroom facilities on tours.

COST (cost includes transportation, bike rental, and guided tour)
$60 for Walking Tour
$70 for Biking Tour 
Minimum participants: 10
Maximum participants: 15/walking tour (two tours available) and 10/biking tour.

Walking Tours

  • 0 of 30 max participants.

Bicycle Tour

  • 1 of 10 max participants.

NAI National Conference
Palm Springs, California
November 30–December 4, 2021

Early bird registration extended through October 31!

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Interested in being a sponsor or exhibitor?
Contact Heather Manier at hmanier@interpnet.com.