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Death Valley


Death Valley

Death Valley

March 8th - 12th, 2017

Encompassing 3 million acres of desert, Death Valley is the largest national park in the United States, south of Alaska. It is also an island of amazing geologic features, abundant wildflowers, desert wildlife, historic sites, sublime scenery, and clear night skies. 

Death Valley National Park is a superlative desert of streaming sand dunes, snow-capped mountains, multicolored rock layers and water-fluted canyons. Its rocks have been crucial for working out most of the geological events that have occurred in western North America during the last half billion years!  

Geology and botany/wildflowers will be the main focus of this trip – the Fifth outing to the park sponsored by CIR.

We are fortunate to have as our leaders Dr. Tanya Atwater, Emeritus Professor of Geology from UCSB, and Steve Junak, Emeritus Herbarium Curator from the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.  They will share their vast knowledge gained from their lifetimes of research and numerous trips to Death Valley.   

Additional naturalists will join us with other specialties, including birdwatching at Furnace Creek.

Common Raven, Corvus corax

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White Mountains

White Mountains

The White Mountains of Eastern California

2017 Trip Date TBA

Click here to get on the list to be the first to know!

Enjoy four days of geology, wildflowers, ancient trees and birds in the majestic alpine wilderness of the White Mountains, in Inyo National Forest, on the eastern edge of the Owens Valley.

Limited to just 30 people, our group will stay at the Crooked Creek Station (10,200’), part of the University of California’s White Mountain Research Station complex. Knowledgeable and enthusiastic scientist/naturalists will guide small groups through the variety of geological and ecological communities found in the Whites, as we study and enjoy the fascinating natural history of this scenic and unique California mountain range, emphasizing geology, botany and bird-life. The Whites are home to ancient bristlecone pines (Pinus longaeva) - the oldest trees in the world.

We are privileged to have as our principal field staff Dr. Tanya Atwater, emeritus professor of geology at UC Santa Barbara, and Steve Junak, botanist and herbarium curator at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.  Both of these extraordinary scientists and educators will guide us through this fascinating alpine ecosystem. We will also be joined by Santiago Escruceria, who is an environmental educator with years of experience leading international bird watching trips and birding excursions for the Mono Lake Committee and others.  Our relaxed pace will also include hiking opportunities and visits to the Schulman Grove (location of the almost-5,000 year old Methuselah tree) and to the Patriarch Grove.  Evenings will feature campfires, astronomy sessions and natural history slide shows.

Day-time drives and hikes will take us above 11,000’. Though hiking will not be strenuous, participants should be able to acclimatize to this high altitude.

Cost:  $430 ($415 for CIR Contributor Level members ) - includes 3 nights’ indoor accommodations and use of research station facilities, 8 delicious meals prepared by station staff, naturalists, materials (animal and plant checklists, bibliography).


Central Coast Train Tour

Central Coast Train Tour


All Aboard!

Join CIR as we ride in style aboard a beautifully restored Vista Dome Lounge-Dining Car built in 1956. You will be treated to a narrated scenic journey along a spectacular part of the coast, and through several ranchos that cannot be seen from Highway 101. We will travel through Gaviota, the Hollister Ranch, the Cojo Ranch (including Point Conception), Vandenberg Air Force Base (including the Sudden Ranch), and the Guadalupe / Oceano Dunes region.

With Steve Junak and Tanya Atwater as guides, learn about the area's rich human and natural history as we travel to and from San Luis Obispo.

Enjoy a catered buffet lunch on board, including beer, wine and soft drinks. Passengers are free to change levels and sides in the car for a new and different view on the way back. This is a fantastic opportunity to see parts of the coast by rail that are otherwise inaccessible.

Details at a Glance:

  • Saturday March 25, 2017 10am - 5:30pm
  • Train departs from Santa Barbara Amtrack (SBA), travels to San Luis Obispo (SLO) and then returns to Santa Barbara. With notice ahead of time, you may board the train in Oxnard (OXN) at no additional charge.
  • Lunch with wine and beer provided free of charge.
  • Cultural and natural history interpretation provided by Tanya Atwater and Steve Junak.


$140 covers train fees, and a tax deductible donation of $50 helps offset the cost of staff time.
Donors who have given $75 or more within the past year are eligible for a $15 refund.

Cancellation Policy

You will receive a full refund if you notify us of a cancellation no later than Friday, February 24 (one month prior to the trip). After February 24 we will refund your fee minus a $50 late cancellation fee unless we can fill your spot with someone else.


Tickets are now sold out! However, if you are interested, please complete the form below to join the waitlist. It is not uncommon for people to drop out as the trip goes nearer, and we will offer open spots on a first come first served basis.

Join the Waitlist

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