Museum Gardens

The grounds of the museum feature mature xeriscape landscaping. Throughout the grounds are metal sculptures as well as historic artifacts. We have a demonstration garden, human sundial and labyrinth. No matter what the season, the museum grounds are a great place to visit.

Gladys Merrick Garden

The garden is named for Gladys Merrick, a devoted museum supporter and native plant collector. Thanks to a grant from the Indian Wells Valley Water District, the museum developed an attractive xeriscape garden of both native and nonnative plants that minimizes water use. Plants are arranged in three mounds depending on where they originated. “Low Desert” covers the Colorado and Sonora Deserts of Southwestern US. “High Desert” contains plants from both the Mojave and Great Basin Deserts of California and the Chihuahuan Desert. The plants from other areas are on the “Desert Adapted” mound . The garden also features the Sue Byrd Fountain that continuously recycles its water and attracts birds and other desert wildlife. It was constructed by Danny Foster as part of a Eagle Scout project.


The labyrinth is modeled after the classic seven-circuit design first seen in Crete more than 3500 years ago. Labyrinths differ from mazes in having only a single winding path to the center. The museum labyrinth is made of tufa and was an Eagle Scout project by Jeremy McClellan.


The Maturango Museum has two telescopes adjacent to the garden. A computer-driven reflector telescope is housed in a dome, and a classic Newtonian telescope is mounted on an open air pedestal. Members of the China Lake Astronomical Society operate the telescopes for scheduled public viewing, and for special groups. Contact the Maturango Museum for the schedule, or for reservations.

Historical Artifacts

Historical artifacts in the museum garden include mining and farming implements.  Visiting children love to ring the historic bell that once hung over the Little Lake Hotel.  The Historical Society of the Upper Mojave Desert installed the bell on our grounds and then donated it to us.


Our newest addition is a human sundial constructed in memory of Bill Faith. It was designed and built by museum docents and volunteers. You can stand on the current month and your shadow tells the time.


Sculptures are scattered throughout the garden. Large metal shamen and sheep based on petroglyph designs were made and donated by Milt Burford. Other shamen were made by Mike Youngblood. The “Seat of Knowledge” sculpture in honor of Elva Younkin was created by local artist and teacher, Mark Archer.

Desert Tortoise Habitat

In spring of 2016 the desert tortoise habitat was completed at the Maturango Musuem. Eagle Scout Zach Burns oversaw construction of the project with advice from the California Turtle and Tortoise Club. Dan Burnett was on site to provide advice as well. The California Turtle and Tortoise Club put in a drip system and planted creosote shrubs for cover. Vertical mulching was put in along with burrows and finally the desert tortoises. The 40′ x 20′ habitat has a brick base with chain-link fence above and a lockable gate. It is separated in the middle by a brick wall to keep males and females apart. The facility will be monitored and tortoises moved in and out when necessary, and new plants will be added over time.

 The mission of the Maturango Museum is to preserve, interpret, and develop an appreciation for the natural and cultural history of the Northern Mojave Desert through research and education in the natural and physical sciences, and to promote the arts.

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100 East Las Flores Ave
Ridgecrest, CA 93555
760-375-6900 | FAX 760-375-0479
Open Daily 10 am to 5 pm
(Excluding Major Holiday)

The Maturango Museum is a Death Valley Tourist Center and  Northern Mojave Visitors Center 

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