What do Route 66, star parties, historic stagecoach routes, gold mining and camels have in common?
All these and more collide at Goffs, an almost-ghost town where the Mojave Desert Heritage and Cultural Association is located. Sure, there’s history and a museum, but there’s also so many cool events that you don’t want to miss.
Enter the Mojave Desert Heritage and Cultural Association
The Mojave Desert Heritage and Cultural Association in Goffs oversees a historic restored mission-style schoolhouse. This was built in 1914. It has served schoolchildren and the U.S. Army. It also has an impressive outdoor museum, a library, working stamp mills, and vintage cars.
And tons of vibrant events. Of course, this includes star parties with astronomy societies. And there’s even an event that includes camels. Yes, camels!
The First Annual Star Party
Goffs is located south of Mojave Road at an old alignment of Route 66 in a dark sky area about half an hour west of Needles, CA. It’s far from Las Vegas or Los Angeles and is surrounded by the Mojave National Preserve. As you might guess, Goffs has dark skies.
MDHCA has had colorful events. These include offering demonstrations of the still-operating historic 10-stamp mill, the Mojave Road Rendezvous in October and even a camel trek along 90 miles of the Mojave Trail. Guests can camp, stay in one of the trailers … or maybe even sleep in a Southern Pacific caboose!
But the Star Party was something new. It was filled with one amazing activity after another!
Tours and the gigantic gyratory crusher
First, MDHCA offered fascinating historical tours throughout the grounds. This also included demonstrations of the historic two-stamp mill and the gyratory crusher. While “gyratory crusher” sounds like the name for a heavy sludge-rock band, it’s not.
These are great opportunities to create photos or videos of something truly unique and historic.
Watching the historic enormous metal shaft warble on a cone and crush material was a marvel of ingenuity and design. And watching the two-stamp mill lurch into action as it did over a hundred years ago? Fantastic.
Whether you have your phone or professional video equipment, this is a great time to create some unique videos. Take advantage of the beautiful sunset to the east to get some great light.
What’s a gathering in the Mojave Desert without a barbecue? And better yet, underneath a beautiful twilight sky? This is also a great time to get wonderful candid photos of friends having a great time in a beautiful desert environment.
Telescopes and night photography
While MDHCA already has numerous telescopes, the Las Vegas Astronomical Society showed up with even more! They also had various tablets and even a large Vizio monitor to allow many to see the night skies. Their descriptions of how they photograph the deep skies were colorful and fascinating, and certainly the views were beautiful.
Now, MDHCA is already fantastic for photography, day or night. I should know; I’ve been here for both probably six or seven times already.
But add tons of telescopes, deep-sky astronomy and more. That’s a fun evening.
We will be organizing some night photography retreats, and workshops along with their star parties and dark sky events in the near future. To find out more about this, keep reading here. Also, you may become a member of MDHCA and follow the MDHCA Facebook Page.
- If it’s winter, dress very warmly, especially for stargazing and astronomy at night.
- Bring extra blankets and hot chocolate.
- Day or night, hot or cold, the Mojave Desert is arid. Bring plenty of water to drink.
- Back up! Don’t rely on Wi-Fi/internet connections. Take a small external hard drive just to back up images each day.
- Bring a tripod for night photos. You can take photos of people peering through the telescopes or the endless variety of historical artifacts and vintage vehicles which make for fantastic subjects.
- The Milky Way begins rising in the late winter in the east. By the time spring comes along, it is rising earlier. April through June are great times for panoramas, while summer to late summer is great for more vertical Milky Ways mixed with subjects.
- You can legally fly a drone at Goffs as long as you don’t cross over the border of Mojave National Preserve. This is a great place for drone photography and video, and the light is gorgeous early in the morning or at sunset.
- Ask questions to the astronomers! They brought their telescopes and monitors for YOU.
- Become a member of MDHCA and support the nonprofit organization for future events as well as keeping Mojave history alive!
- Goffs is located half an hour from Needles, two hours from Las Vegas, and four hours from Los Angeles by car.
Leave a Reply