More than 1,500 people attended the inaugural event at Mojave River Forks Regional Park in Hesperia on Saturday, April 27, to meet retired NASA astronaut Dr. Josè Hernández and hear him speak about his experiences as an astronaut.

Dr. Hernandez, whose life story was depicted in the movie “A Million Miles Away” and who wrote the 2012 book, “Reaching for the Stars: The Inspiring Story of a Migrant Farmworker Turned Astronaut,” received cheers from the crowd as he shared his journey. Attendees lined up for autographs and photos with him in his blue flight suit.

While the River Forks is a campground located off Highway 173 in Hesperia and is well-known for its remote camping location away from city lights and noise pollution, the setting was the perfect host for Regional Parks and the County Library to join forces and offer this type of event in the High Desert.

Local astronomy clubs, High Desert Astrological Society (HiDAS) and NASA Goldstone, set up telescopes to give eventgoers a chance to view solar flares from the sun before sunset, and then constellations of stars and planets after the sun went down.

“Watching families experience this park and see and hear retired NASA astronaut Dr. Josè Hernández was amazing. In addition, each person was able to look at and learn about the sun, stars and planets with the assistance of multiple local astronomy clubs onsite,” said Regional Parks Director Beahta Davis.

Deputy Director of Regional Parks José Cañedo said attendance was fantastic and everyone had a great time. Even camping reservations were sold out for the weekend.

Dr. Hernández spoke for more than an hour to a packed campground and regaled his experiences growing up in a family of migrant farmworkers and his boyhood dream of becoming an astronaut. Hernández said he was rejected 11 times before NASA finally accepted him into the program. He is one of the few Latinos to ever go into space. His message to eventgoers was to inspire them to never give up on your dreams. I know I am planting seeds for the future – future doctors, engineers and astronauts. I think it is very important for kids to look and listen.”

As a child of farmworkers, Hernández said he learned the value of hard work early on and through his ambition and perseverance he made it as an astronaut. His family traveled throughout California for seasonal harvesting, stopping in Chino for two months during the strawberry harvest every year.

“We used to spend nine months in California and three months in Mexico, so Chino is like a second home to me; a special place as a kid I remember that we used to stop by,” said Hernández.

Despite his parents’ third-grade education, they emphasized the importance of school and education to him and his siblings as they grew up. He also mentioned that Hispanic role models are far and few between.

“I think it’s crucial for the Hispanic community to have role models who look like them. It’s very important for kids to see successful people who share their background and have achieved success through a good education. This is what I preach to the kids.”

Many eventgoers expressed their enthusiasm for this event, noting that they’ve been waiting a long time for an event like this at Mojave River Forks.

Davis said, “The event provided families with their first event experience at Mojave River Forks Regional Park and partnering with the County Library to make it happen was a wonderful experience.”

“It was an absolute privilege to be a partner in this first event at Mojave River Forks. Jose is such an inspiration – his story truly does resonate with everyone, and I’m just so happy that we were able to provide that opportunity to our Regional Parks and Library community,” said San Bernardino County Librarian Melanie Orosco.

Hernández added it was nicely put on by Regional Parks and the San Bernardino County library system. “It was a very good crowd and great to see folks camping at an event where you get the family together outdoors,” he said.

Other activities included arts and crafts and the Library Adventure Truck. Mojave River Forks Regional Park is located at 7891 CA 173 in Hesperia. For camping reservations, please visit

For more information of Regional Parks or events, visit For more information on the County Library and branches, visit

Additional County Update News – May 2, 2024