Straddling the Mojave Desert & Colorado Desert lies Joshua Tree, a quirky little region where magic courses through the air and nature thrives in the most unlikely places.
The National Park is actually larger than the state of Rhode Island, and is lined with tons of hiking trails. There are 3 main entrances on the perimeter of the park, and you most definitely need a car to get in & around the park (I mean.. Rhode Island is it’s own state, for comparison’s sake) A $20/car pass gives you admission to the park for an entire 30 days.
Some quick highlights…. these were my favorites.
Hidden Valley Loop: this is about a 1 mile loop hike, where cattle herders used to hide stolen cattle. It’s a pretty easy & fun hike. There were several rock climbers climbing alongside this trial… the ultimate people watching sport.
Cholla Cacti Field: Beware! these are super prickly (duh) but there are loose burrs everywhere on the ground. still a pretty cool sight to see… though may not be worth the extra 40 minute drive roundtrip.
Keys View: Not really a hike but an amazing look out point – you can see all of Coachella valley, the San Andreas fault line and the Salton Sea! Go around sunset but just know that it will be crowded up there (oh how original of you… to go at sunset)
Forty-nine Palms: Hands down my favorite hike of the trip… and to think, we were almost going to leave early and would’ve missed this! It’s a 3 mile roundtrip hike through a gorgeous rocky hillside. The trek leads you to a shady oasis with 49 palm trees, cool rocks to climb & lounge on, and a sad dried up creek ::shakes fist at CA drought:: This little desert heaven was first settled by the Serrano who planted the trees.
There’s more than the ever-expansive nature; I immediately fell in love with the tiny town of Joshua Tree. It pretty much just comprises of a few blocks off 29 Palms Hwy, their one main road, but it’s packed full of charm, delicious food & great personalities.
JT Country Kitchen: One word = pancakes!! (I don’t even usually like pancakes but these were fluffy & decadent). This little diner is run by an elder Cambodian couple, decorated with their handmade flowers, Cambodian news articles, and no frills manners.
Crossroads Cafe: We ate here twice in the span of 36 hours! It was so delicious Ev didn’t even realize there wasn’t any meat in his Ruben sandwich until he was halfway through. They have a plethora of veggie & vegan options and the restaurant is always pretty crowded. I had this amazing grilled artichoke sourdough sandwich and washed it down with a $4 local microbrew – so perfect after a long day in the sun.
Integratron: A 15 min drive out… it’s technically located in Landers. Amazing experience. Read more here.
The live music: Saturday night we went to watch a funky South African band, dressed as zebras, perform in a little outdoor venue behind Pie to the People. People were dancing (actually dancing), there’s a tiny fire pit going & it’s BYOB. We heard good things about Pappy & Harriet’s too, but it’s a bit further out in Pioneertown.
Lastly, where we stayed was half the magic – Ev found this amazing remodeled trailer home on Airbnb. The owners of “the Rocket” had befitted it head to toe as a 1980’s Flash Gordon outer space time capsule. The eco-friendly home ran on a septic system and was complete with a solar oven, trampoline porch roofs and a collection of old school VHS movies.
It was a pretty magical weekend. Joshua Tree, I’ll definitely be back.