A couple of weeks ago, I made my first ever trip to Joshua Tree, California and everything felt right. You know that feeling when you make it to your destination and, you just know the Universe was guiding you? Yea, that’s the one I felt during our drive down: pure wonder and joy!
We arrived pretty late at night which means it was basically pitch black, so we had no idea the sheer beauty that awaited upon waking. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning! While there, we stayed at a lovely Airbnb just minutes from the park entrance, which just so happens to be my favorite way to travel. The sun was streaming through the curtains of our place, and I popped right out of bed ready for a full day of exploring.
After a quick grab-and-go breakfast, we made our way toward the south entrance of Joshua Tree National Park, including stops at the Thousand Palms Oasis in the Coachella Valley Preserve and the Salton Sea. We’re saving Salvation Mountain for our upcoming trip in April.
The Thousand Palms Oasis is quite literally an oasis in the middle of the desert. As we approached, a cluster of palm trees so dense stood alone in the open desert valley floor providing temperatures at least 10 degrees cooler and a cacophony of bird calls that was unlike anything you’d expect from the desert. The preserve was teaming with life. Guided hikes are offered regularly throughout the month, or you are welcome to map out your own adventure if you opt to wander on your own.
After visiting the preserve, and a refreshing juice and hearty chilaquiles at Serrano’s Juice Bar and Grill we decided to check out the Salton Sea, rich in its own history. A shallow saline sea, located directly on the San Andreas fault line. I was surprised to see such a vast body of water nestled amongst the surrounding mountains, stretching as far as the eye could see. The Salton Sea is perfect for packing a lunch and enjoying a change of desert scenery. There are also multiple campsites available to those adventurous enough to pitch a tent.
We continued our adventures over to the south entrance of Joshua Tree National Park. Joshua Tree has been on my list of places to visit for as long as I can remember. I’ve had visions of cacti, endless starry nights, and traipsing through a land as I’ve never experienced. Let me tell you, all expectations were beyond fulfilled. Because Joshua Tree is the meeting of two deserts, it has a few different micro-climates we experienced during our drive from south to north.
First, we saw the cuddly cacti, also known as the Cholla cactus, it was so hard to stop ourselves from reaching out and touching them. While in search of the infamous Joshua Tree arch, we discovered incredible hiking trails that seem to stretch as far as the eye can see. We’re particularly excited to share the Ryan Mountain hike with everyone during our Spring Renewal Yoga Retreat this April.
Not only does the park shine, but Joshua Tree offers a number of great restaurants. We ate so well during our stay, managing to squeeze in pre-dinner drinks at the infamous Pappy & Harriet’s, the walk-in wait was two hours and absolutely no joke for reliable BBQ. With live music offerings nightly, this restaurant is the place to go. I’m already looking forward to our dinner reservation in April. After our drinks, we found an incredible Mexican food joint, Las Palmas, just down the hill from Pappy & Harriet’s that was out of this world delicious.
Before heading out of town and embarking upon our long journey home, we stopped at Joshua Tree Coffee Company and enjoyed their outdoor seating area while soaking up the sun, a lovely winter treat. We also snuck in a quick breakfast stop at Country Kitchen, and you need this breakfast in your life. The banana pancakes are life changing!
To sum it up, Joshua Tree is a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere with breathtaking sunsets and some of the best food you’ve ever had, offering endless adventures within the National Park and all around.
I’d love to hear about your adventures to Joshua Tree, drop a comment below. I’ve most definitely left a tiny piece of my heart in Joshua Tree.