Joshua Tree
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Magical Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree National Park is about an hour from Palm Springs and two if you’re driving from Los Angeles. The park is nestled between the Colorado and Mojave deserts and on a clear day on top of Key Views, just one of the area’s many 360 degree vistas, you can see all the way to Mexico.

Once you’re inside Joshua Tree, it feels otherworldly. I’m instantly reminded of Western movies. Which isn’t really that strange, as many of the genre’s classics I grew up watching were shot in the region. The rugged desert landscape, breathtaking scenery with thousands of peculiarly beautiful Joshua trees and monumental rock formations make the park one of California’s most beloved destinations.

The park’s slow-growing yucca trees were given the nickname “Joshua” by Mormon settlers in the mid-1800s. They thought the trees unique shapes reminded of the biblical story of Joshua when he stretched his arms up to the sky during prayer.

After paying the entrance fee and picking up a map at one of the park’s Visitor Centers, head out on the main road until you find a scene that grabs your attention. There are plenty of designated parking lots and camping grounds throughout Joshua Tree, and when space allows, you can even leave your car at the side of the main road for shorter excursions.

Depending on how much time you have in the park, you can choose from a range of walking trails – at varying lengths and difficulty levels. Rock climbers from around the world flock to Joshua Tree to ascend to the park’s most popular boulder peaks and conquer steep rock faces. To satisfy your inner cowboy, you can also explore much of the park on horseback. More info here

There are no stores or restaurants inside Joshua Tree, so whatever you think you’ll need during the visit has to be brought with you – including water, food and sunscreen. But don’t leave anything behind! It can get really cold in the desert, freezing even, especially during the winter. Make sure to dress appropriately.

I’m told that the town of Joshua Tree, just outside the park, looks pretty much as it did back in the 1960s and 1970s. The selection of restaurants grocery stores and cafés is very limited. But what is there, is actually really good. Especially the few available dining places. You won’t find any fancy hotels or resorts in Joshua Tree. But there are plenty of houses available for short-term rent through home-sharing sites like Airbnb.

To fully appreciate this amazing nature experience, I highly recommend spending a couple of days and nights exploring Joshua Tree National Park. But if you’re short on time, this is also a great day excursion from Palm Springs, San Diego and even Los Angeles and an excellent representation of California’s geographical diversity.

Things to do

Pappy and Harriet’s
In the heart of Pioneertown, you will find a quintessential music venue and historic saloon.
www.pappyandharriets.com

World Famous Crochet Museum
A quirky crochet museum out in desert.
www.sharielf.com/museum

Noah Purifoy Foundation
A few miles north of Joshua Tree you will find this outdoor desert sculpture park with more than 100 works of various things.
www.noahpurifoy.com

A-Z West
This is a private residence as well as the site of a full-time studio practice with the works of Andrea Zittel, a successful contemporary female artist in the High Desert
www.zittel.org/work/

The Palms
Wonder Valley’s finest food, including Saturday Night Specials and Breakfast on Sunday–and also, offers a full selection of beer, wine and spirits.
www.tetworld.tripod.com

Cafe Frontier
Cool coffee shop located in Old Town Yucca Valley
www.cafefrontier.com


Book a Sightseeing Tour

Popular hotels around Joshua Tree

Best Western
© Image Best Western Gardens Hotel

Best Western Gardens Hotel

The expansive grounds include a sparkling blue pool, the largest at any hotel in Twentynine Palms, plus a covered patio area with barbecues and refreshing misters. The four buildings offer exterior entrances and fantastic views of their well-kept landscaping and majestic desert-mountain scenery.

Mojave
© Image Mojave Trails Inn & Suite

Mojave Trails Inn & Suite

Mojave Trails Inn & Suite is your conveniently located base to explore Joshua Tree National Park. Situated in downtown Twentynine Palms, just outside of the park North Entrance, it’s close to Oasis Visitor Center and local restaurants. Enjoy a dip in the outdoor pool after a day’s adventure.

Pioneertown
© Image Pioneertown Motel

Pioneertown Motel

There are rooms with king beds and rooms with queen beds, rooms named after movie stars and rooms with giant cactuses in them. Room number 1 is The Canteen — a room for everybody, with books and card games and Canyon Coffee.
Art is the desert’s calling card. Pioneertown Motel has been recently re-envisioned with help from their talented desert brethren: furniture maker Dan Anderson, artists Wilder California, builders Aaron, Harrison and Ryan and the landscaping/bouldering skills of Tony B.

The Inn
© Image The Inn at Deep Canyon

The Inn at Deep Canyon

Located near the fabulous El Paseo Shopping District, the Inn at Deep Canyon is a place where guests become friends and friends return again and again to renew old acquaintances at one of the finest small hotels in Palm Desert with HEATED SALTWATER POOL and Hot tub. Imagine such a place. Here you will find 32 tasteful rooms with understated elegance. Your special hideaway where dreams come true and you feel like the most important person in the world.

Joshua Tree
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Joshua Tree
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Joshua Tree
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Joshua Tee
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Joshua Tree
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Joshua Tree
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Joshua Tree
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Joshua Tree
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Joshua Tree
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Joshua Tree
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