The prequel: Palm Springs Spring Break, Part 1: Destination Capitulation

California’s Joshua Tree National Park is an oddly-shaped region that, when viewed on a map, brings to mind . . . nothing.

With those sharp corners, amorphous blob doesn’t seem quite right. Source:

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. 

Happy as a clam Mojave Fringe-toed lizard to finally be in Joshua Tree.
Views . . .
. . . and vistas.

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.

Couldn’t find a route up this one – the boulders were all too big. Can you spot me?

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.

That’s the Harmony Motel!

The prize at the end of the trail is a genuine, bona fide desert oasis.

Up ahead in the distance…
… I saw a shimmering light stand of palm trees.

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.

Don’t count. Just enjoy.

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: 

One love

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.

One of our final views of Joshua Tree

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:

29 thoughts

  1. Great post and wonderful photos. There are many reasons why I want to add Joshua Tree National Park to my never-ending travel bucket list and the wonderful wildlife, wide open roads and the amazing rock formations are certainly few of them. I can only imagine how beautiful those spiky silhouettes would look during the sunrises and sunsets. Thanks for sharing and have a good day. Aiva 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I enjoyed your photos of Joshua Tree Park. We were there once for about a half hour driving from LA to Palm Springs. I thought it was beautiful but obviously we didn’t have the time to explore it properly. Cactus are so pretty to see from afar. I am not a cactus wren!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Fascinating landscape. We did a little hiking in Joshua Tree a few years ago. My main memory was almost running out of water because I foolishly didn’t count on it being so hot and dry. Love the tree and rock names:) Maggie

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I was listening to the beginning of your podcast in another tab – the joke – as I got to the photos of the trees. How appropriate! I did enjoy your interpretations of the various trees, Glad to know you did enjoy this journey after all.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I visited Joshua Tree National Park last summer, and it’s definitely an otherworldly place! It didn’t cross my mind to make a game out of naming the different structures of the Joshua trees, but it’s genius (and very amusing)! It’s certainly a unique part of my home state, and I’m glad you got to check it out!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a Bachelor’s in Psychology and I’m using it to analyze you. That map was my secret ink blot test. 😉 To be honest, I kinda saw a moose head, but it was so iffy I just couldn’t write it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s