And just like that, another trip to the desert has come and gone. While I love Palm Springs, and all of the retro vibes it brings to the table, this trip was more about Joshua Tree National Park. Instead of slow and easy days by the pool, we spent our time exploring— new watering holes, new vintage shops and, of course, new photo ops in Joshua Tree, California.
I’ll be completely transparent, I was underwhelmed by the actual national park in Joshua Tree. While there were cool sights to be seen, and fun cacti, it was a whole lot of the same thing stretching for miles and miles in each direction. On the same token, I think it’s something everyone needs to see at least once.
So, in the event that you’re planning to make the desert a destination in the near-future, here are some must-see things in Joshua Tree. Welcome to the cactus club, friends.
Cholla Cactus Garden —Before you get excited, this isn’t a cutesy garden of lush saguaro cacti and succulents. Instead, this garden is home to the oddly fuzzy, and colorless, cholla cactus. Regardless, it’s pretty phenomenal and worth a visit.
Keys View — This is a lookout spot that overlooks the entire Coachella Valley and the infamous San Andreas Fault. Rumor has it that on a really clear day you may even be able to see Signal Mountain in Mexico (we couldn’t). If you decide to stop here, beware of the obscene amount of bees buzzing around the area (scary, I know).
Skull Rock — Skull Rock is exactly what is sounds like, a rock shaped like a skull, complete with depressions and erosions where the eye sockets and nose would be. I was actually pretty impressed with the resemblance. Picture below for reference.
Barker Dam — It’s about a 1.5 mile hike in, but the pay off is beautiful. You would literally never believe that there’s a reservoir full of water in the otherwise dry Joshua Tree until you see it for yourself.
The World Famous Crochet Museum — Kinda funky, kinda cool— definitely worth a minute or two of your time if you end up in the town of Joshua Tree. While you’re there take a peek in some of the eclectic shops around the area, they’re totally dreamy and most of the shop owners are willing to negotiate prices (score!).
Joshua Tree Saloon — You’ll need some grub and a cold beer after spending a few hours in the park, trust me. Joshua Tree Saloon is hole in the wall run by hippie folk, but it’s actually kind of charming and totally gets the job done. Their fries ain’t bad either.
Pro tip: pack a picnic lunch, drive around to find the most scenic, photo-friendly spots, and then park it for an hour or two to snack, hang and take it all in.
Cactus Club Tee c/o Heartman. They have some pretty badass graphic tees, if you’re in to that sorta thang.