Joshua Tree: Drifting & thrifting
We’ve been wanting to check out Joshua Tree for ages, so when we got our Airstream and started making our first stabs at planning our route, we knew one destination for sure.
Sometimes when you have so many expectations about a place, it just can’t live up to them when you actually arrive, but JT did not disappoint in any way. The National Park, and the surrounding towns are just as otherworldly as we had hoped. And even though they’re visited by nearly two million people every year, it still feels like there’s something undiscovered about the place. Maybe it’s the miles of road, sand and cacti between stops, or maybe it’s just the magic of the desert, but this place is one that will capture your heart.
There is so much to do we felt like we barely scratched the surface in 3 weeks, but we came up with our top 10 from our time there.
Joshua Tree Top 10
- Take a sunrise walk. Our favorite spot for this was Indian Cove campground with all the rocks glowing pink, but wherever you are it's worth getting up early.
- Hike Jumbo Rocks. You can link together several smaller loops from the Jumbo Rocks campground (Skull Rock > Discovery > Face Rock > Split Rock) to make a 5 mile hike that will bring you over, around and under all kinds of amazing rock formations. Skull Rock is just the beginning!
- Scramble Jumbo Rocks. Off the official trails, you can do a lot of scrambling around the Jumbo Rocks campground and get killer views of the rock formations up close. (Downside: You can also see that the top of your trailer needs a good cleaning!)
- Get 'er done at Joshua Tree Coffee Co. Turn their patio into your office for the afternoon, borrow wifi from the kindly pizza place next door, and stock up on the best beans you'll find between LA and Tucson.
- Visit a palm oasis. It really does feel like a mirage when you go suddenly from dry desert sun to cool shade in the palms. 49 Palms Oasis is an easy 3-miler with beautiful views of the valley along the way.
- Watch the stars. The park's inner campgrounds are well away from light sources and on a clear night you can start to see the Milky Way.
- Grab a drink or catch a show at Pappy + Harriet's in Pioneertown. Just a little north of Joshua Tree is this Hollywood Western set turned tiny town. There's even a corral out back you can park your rig in overnight for $10 a person.
- See the Joshua Tree forests. Some of the densest forests that you can actually hike through are at the Black Rock Canyon campground, which has miles and miles of back country trails.
- Check out the vintage shops in JT and Yucca Valley. Window shopping is a fun way to pass an afternoon when you're tuckered out from the trails.
- Make a fire and watch the sunset. From neon pink and orange to soft pink glows fading into blue, these are some of the most beautiful sunsets you'll see.
Check out our pics and pitstops below, and as always our full campground reviews are over on Campendium.
Indian Cove - Sites are set among enclaves in a rock climber’s paradise.
Black Rock Canyon - Miles of backcountry hiking in Joshua Tree forests.
Jumbo Rocks - Like visiting another planet, and the easiest access & parking for bigger rigs.
Twentynine Palms RV Resort - Clean, quiet spot to recharge those batteries with easy access to the park.
Pit stops and other diversions
Canyon House Vintage - Well curated threads and bobbles.
Crossroads Tavern & Cafe - Breakfast, burgers & beers in downtown JT.
Frontier Cafe - Healthy eats, coffee and music in Yucca Valley surrounded by small shops.
Joshua Tree Coffee Co - Purveyors of sweet, sweet coffee crack.
Pappy + Harriets - Tunes, booze and grub in a Hollywood movie set turned tiny town.