Panoramic Pit Stops
If you’re flying in, you have a few options, but a road trip from Los Angeles allows you to make some popular pit stops on your way to the area. The California towns of Joshua Tree and Palm Springs are your best bets when booking a place to stay near all the area’s attractions.
A roadside, bucketlist attraction, Cabazon Dinosaurs has been featured in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and even a Tears for Fears video. It’s a perfect place for a photo-opp while also stretching your legs on the road.
If you’re heading to stay in Palm Springs, Salvation Mountain, is a work of art worth the extra driving distance. This personal passion project is a visionary graphic artwork by Leonard Knight.
Relax & Recharge
You’ll come across very few places as intriguing as the Integratron which sits on top of a “powerful geomagnetic vortex”. This “time machine” has a fascinating and quirky history. Built over the course of two decades, but never fully finished, by a Ufologist, George Van Tassel, who claims to have been visited by Venusians in the 1950s, instructing him to build this 38 foot cupola situated in the middle of the desert. Now family-owned by three sisters who purchased and rehabilitated the property that stands as a time capsule. The structure is a place of meditation through sound baths utilizing quartz bowls and the building’s perfect acoustics to create a viseral expereince for its visitors. It is definitely worth immersing your imagination into for an afternoon. Arrive early and relax in the misted hammocks under the sun and stay late to let your curiosity run free reading through more of the esoteric qualities of this peculiar space.
Two Bunch Palms
Soak in the nourishment and calm for an afternoon. This hotel and spa offers a serene setting to relax and rejuvenate in its natural mineral water, low in sulfur and high in lithium, that descend from a 600-year-old source at Miracle Hill. It’s an optimal way to subdue any post-hike aches.
A National Treasure
Joshua Tree National Park is truly a remarkable site. Whether you're an advanced rock climber or a leisurely stroller there’s tons to see. The park is named after its premier attraction, the Joshua Tree, which forests the geologic, desert landscape. Fun fact: the Joshua Tree flowers were snacked on in the last ice age by giant ground sloths. If that isn’t convincing enough, the park houses an ecological crossroad between two deserts, the Mojave and the Colorado, that have their own distinct ecosystems that merge in this single place.
Cholla Cactus Garden
This is a perfect spot to take a light scenic stroll. It’s as if nature took the copy and paste feature of this cacti -- all you’ll see at this garden is this species as far as the eye can see.
Skull Rock Nature Loop
This is an easy to moderate trail taking you through some incredible desert rock formations. Definitely bring a local nature book so you can spot native species you may cross on this trail, from big horn sheep, kangaroo rats, or even pinta gneiss (the park’s oldest rocks which can be up to 1.7 billion years old) or lichens (bright colored splotches that are a primitive form of plant-life.
Apart from being an incredible vista, you can also see the San Andreas fault which stretches through most of the state.
Where To Stay
The Mojave Desert area spans across several towns. Los Angeles and Las Vegas airport provide easy access to this region with a rental car while Palm Springs airport is conveniently located in the heart of the the area.
If you’re planning on spending a day in Joshua Tree National Park, it’ll be beneficial for you to position yourself in the town closest to the entrance. 29 Palms or Joshua Tree are your best bet. Since hotels are limited, renting a home is the way to go. Plus, the nights are chilly so most will have hot tubs in the backyards which will come in handy for stargazing after sunset.
If you prefer a hotel, Ace Hotel in Palm Springs is family- and pet-friendly, serving as great options if you’re traveling solo or in a group. The retro feel and panoramic landscape it's positioned against, not to mention their highly photographed pool, make for a visually stunning experience. No need to be a guest to enjoy the pool, either. They offer visitors $30 passes which is a great option for those looking for a way to cool off for a day after hiking in the desert sun.
The Joshua Tree House
The Joshua Tree House was created by husband and wife duo Rich Combs and Sara Combs. Together, they created a collection of hip rental homes in the desert. Even if you don't book a stay, their Instagram account is a must-follow for interior design lovers.
Parker Hotel is a great option if you're looking for tons of amenities in a lush setting. You can take your pick between an indoor or outdoor pool, tennis courts, or yoga. Those feeling extra luxe can check out the spa offerings at the Palm Springs Yacht Club, which sits on their property.
La Quinta Resort & Club
More budget-conscious travelers can still live it up at La Quinta. Amenities include an on-property spa, tennis courts, and yoga classes. They're situated amongst golf courses and country clubs, making this a popular stay for golf-enthusiasts.
Where To Eat
La Copine is perfect for both foodies and shoppers alike. The kitchen arguably serves the best sandwiches in the Mojave. And the trailer shop next door is the best opportunity to snag some unique souvenir.
Pappys and Harriet’s
Hidden in the desert hills is this barbecue restaurant and music venue that looks like something out of an old western. It’s a must-visit in the evening when the fire pits are going and the house band is playing rock and country hits.
Joshua Tree Farmers Market
Open on Saturday mornings, the market is filled with locals and is a great stop to strike up a conversation and pick up fresh produce to pack on your way into the national park.
Rooster and the Pig
This Vietnamese-American restaurant and beer bar offer a unique take on fusion cuisine. Take for example their 'coconut chicken and waffle' -- a twist on the classic chicken and waffles. Their menu rotates often so you'll be in for a treat if you're feeling adventurous.
This diner serves classics but are well-known for their savory breakfasts. Bonus: they serve vegan options.
The Natural Sisters Cafe
The Natural Sisters Cafe is the product of two sisters' dream: to offer organic, plant-based food, drinks, and baked goods. This is a great stop on the way to Joshua Tree National Park.