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Off-highway Vehicle Park Visitors Are Captivated By A Desert Safari

Off-Highway Vehicle Event

This spring, the interpretive staff at Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA) packed up their trailer of goodies and headed for the 47th Annual Tierra Del Sol (TDS) Desert Safari. 

For nearly 50 years, the TDS Jeep Club has been holding its annual safari in the Ocotillo Wells SVRA area.  The event has grown to be the second largest jeep event in the western United States.  A traditional part of the event is a large vendor area.  This year, for the first time ever, the interpretive team from Ocotillo Wells SVRA joined the event by setting up a California State Parks booth. 

The theme of the booth was “The Wild World of Ocotillo Wells,” offering  numerous individual exhibits ranging from hands-on activities to live animal displays.  Ocotillo Wells SVRA staff conservatively estimate the booth had more than 3,000 visitors and appeared to be the most-visited attractions in the event.  Time after time, children would bring back their friends and parents to show them all the “cool stuff” on display!

The live animal displays were the most popular attraction.  They included two species of scorpions, a tarantula, a banded gecko, a Sonoran gopher snake, a black widow, sphinx moth caterpillars, and a carpenter ant farm.  In addition to the live animals, taxidermy mounts of a badger and a roadrunner, as well as, coyote, bobcat and badger pelts were on display.

There were also various hands-on activities visitors could enjoy.  Kids tested their knowledge about desert animals, made plaster casts of their favorite desert animal tracks and even sculpted a banded gecko using modeling clay.

Games were also available. The most popular game was “The Scoop on Poop” trivia.  Samples of poop were on display and contestants got a chance to guess… “Whose poop is that?” It was a great hit!  Interpreters Andy Fitzpatrick and Carleen Roberts could often be heard during the event breaking out with Andy’s scat rap song.  It is sure to become a classic!

In addition to the displays, visitors to the booth were also treated to a variety of publications including new trading cards, wildflower guides, reptile guides, various word searches about each animal on display, and maps of California State Parks and Ocotillo Wells SVRA.

Overall, our visit to the TDS Jeep rally was a FANTASTIC success and we look forward to participating next year with an even larger exhibit!