California’s Joshua Tree National Park is an oddly-shaped region that, when viewed on a map, brings to mind . . . nothing.
The most “infrastructured” and easily visitable parts of the park are concentrated in the northwestern section, and that is where we spent most of our time and energy on this non-Palm Springs, non-luxury portion of our Palm Springs Luxury Spring Break Trip.
We took a 4 wheels/2 legs approach to seeing the park, driving the main roads, enjoying the scenery, and finding places to hike here and there.
We tried to avoid a few of the more popular, crowded features of the park, and in that spirit (and remembering that we rented a 4WD vehicle for a reason), we drove the unimproved Geology Tour Road down to Pleasant Valley where we got both solitude and stark beauty.
We followed a strict look but don’t touch policy with the local flora. Dead or alive, they’ll getcha.
We found an overlook that provided an expansive view of the Coachella Valley in all its smoggy glory and had me gazing longingly at Palm Springs, where luxury awaited . . .
I had fun naming some of the Joshua trees we came across . . .
. . . as well as other features in the park:
On our second morning, we drove just a few miles from our motel to reach the Fortynine Palms Oasis trailhead. This moderate out-and-back hike took us back behind the low mountains that were our backdrop down at the Harmony Motel.
The prize at the end of the trail is a genuine, bona fide desert oasis.
After the shocking discovery that there were a lot more than 29 palms in Twentynine Palms, I didn’t even bother counting the trees at the Fortynine Palms Oasis. I couldn’t have stood the disappointment.
Suddenly, it all felt very tropical. I stared at my water bottle, willing it to transform into a piña colada.
I was particularly fascinated by the conjoining of these two trees in a frondy embrace:
On the day we left Twentynine Palms, in a final show of compromise, I agreed to forego the fastest and most direct route to Palm Springs. Instead, we drove the road to the southernmost entrance of Joshua Tree, ensuring that we saw pretty much every part of the park you can see from a car. It also meant we got to drive through the Mojave desert, the Colorado desert, and the transition zone where the two converge.
Despite my snark about the husband’s bare-bone lodging and the lack of luxury on his portion of the trip, I genuinely enjoyed our few days here. The husband, though, was so inspired he was moved to creativity.
Still, I couldn’t help but be exited for my portion of the Palm Springs Luxury Spring Break Trip, which was less than an hour’s drive away . . .
The Palm Springs Luxury Spring Break Trip series: