Joshua Tree: 5 Reasons Why You Must Visit
If you love all-things-desert then you won't need much convincing, Joshua Tree is just the place for you, but if you are someone who's still hesitant, then read this list and see if I was successful at changing your mind after all!
5. Most Unique Airbnb Stays
Joshua Tree has an abundance of most unique Airbnbs in the country, and the best part is that there are plenty of stays to choose from, varying in style, aesthetic, price and amenities. When deciding where we wanted to stay, we fell in love with The Shack Attack and rented it for almost a week (it was the outdoor tin bathtub that instantly sold us!). It certainly was one of the most memorable Airbnbs that I've stayed in. Every evening, we would fill up the bath and watch the beautiful, multicolored sunsets softly turn into glimmering night sky. Even though we had planned different activities for every day of our stay, living in this Airbnb was an unforgettable experience of it's own!
There are three main towns just outside of Joshua Tree National Park called Joshua Tree, Twentynine Palms, and Yucca Valley. Although they are technically three separate towns, they are all very small and kind of blend in together, so book your stay in or near any of them.
4. Quirky Town of Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree is a small quirky town and has a lot of weird attractions, but the World Famous Crochet Museum is definitely one of a kind! The museum was created and is owned by artist Shari Elf. As a huge crochet fan she has been collecting crocheted items since the early 1990s. Later on, Elf purchased a retro photo booth and converted it into a neon green museum, which looks nothing less than an actual art installation. Inside the museum you will find a little bit of everything, but my personal favorite were the poodles! Around the museum, you'll also find plenty of other artistic spots to discover.
While you're on the main street, swing by some of the Joshua Tree's eclectic stores that sell all kind of recycled, vintage little treasures and pick up a one of a kind desert souvenir, or stop at one of the crystal shops and find the perfect crystal for you. Don't miss the Beauty Bubble (an operational hair salon and museum) and The Station (a 1940s high-desert service station re-imagined into a California club house/gift shop).
Located about 10 miles outside of Joshua Tree, Pioneertown is definitely worth a short visit as well! It's an Old West town built as a 1940's movie set and is still active today. There is a jail, a church and other period-appropriate buildings, all of which are made to function. Depending on the season, you can come and see western-themed events and historical reenactments and really feel like you are back in the Wild Wild West.
3. The Impressive Salvation Mountain
Located just over an hour from Joshua Tree National Park’s southern border, Salvation Mountain has got to be one of the most fascinating and unique hidden gems in all of California. It's a colorful blast of inspiration! Here, you will find a 50-foot high and 150-foot wide man-made mountain that is covered in thousands gallons of paint, spreading the beautiful message that "God is Love". There are giant hearts, multicolored swirls, love messages and inspirational biblical verses spattered all over. But you really don't have to be religious to enjoy the wonderful sights here, this place radiates positivity and is all about having love for life. It is especially beautiful during sunset hours, as the sky changes colors and turns orange, pink, purple, making the entire place feel like a visual wonderland!
2. One Of The Best Places For Stargazing
One of the things that I've always wanted to check off my bucket list is do a stargazing tour with an experienced Sky Guide and see the marvelous constellations, star clusters, nebulas and our nearest galaxies in all their splendor. After days of researching, Joshua Tree National Park kept popping up as "one of the best places for stargazing in the country (and the planet!)". The park is certified as an International Dark Sky Park, boasting some of the darkest skies in Southern California (and the world). Here, you get a chance to really admire the stunning Milky Way and experience the dark night sky the way our ancestors once did.
The night sky constantly shifts as the Earth orbits the Sun, which means each stargazing experience will be unique. Depending on the season, here are are some of the things you can expect to see throughout the year.
No matter when you decide to go, there will always be something exceptional to see, but if you really want to dedicate your trip to stargazing, plan your visit around the Annual Night Sky Festival to look through telescopes and experience activities for all ages. We planned our trip around my birthday, which is in February, and booked a 2-hour private stargazing tour with Sky Watcher Star Tours that took place in Hidden Valley inside the park. The guide was incredibly knowledgeable and told us millennia-old stories from around the world linking them to different constellations. This was the first time when I finally was able to really picture them all above me and memorize their placements, which was so exciting! But what truly took my breath away that night, was seeing the Moon up close. Despite visiting an observatory in the past and seeing Mars and Jupiter, it simply doesn't compare to seeing the Moon. Because it's obviously much closer to Earth, it can be viewed in remarkable detail that will absolutely leave you speechless. A once in a lifetime experience for sure!
1. Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is made out of two very distinct desserts, Mojave and Colorado desserts. Due to their significant difference in elevation, both of them have their own very unique ecosystems. As you drive through the park, you'll quickly notice how drastically the landscape changes in a matter of just 20 minutes! Joshua Tree National Park is the only home to the famous Joshua trees, and you can spot them specifically in the Mojave Desert where the elevation is much higher. Despite their name, Joshua trees are actually plants and are the world's largest Yuccas. There are a couple of stories about how these humanlike trees got their name. One of them tells how in mid 1800s, the Mormon settlers saw the shape of these trees and were reminded of the story where Joshua reaches up his hands to the sky in prayer. By 1870s, some Mormons were referring to the Yucca Palms as "The Joshua". But to me, they actually remind me of those inflatable air tube dancing figures that you usually see outside a car wash or a gas station. Haha!
The park has plenty of great hikes to choose from, for all skill levels. If you can only visit one place in Joshua Tree National Park, definitely see the Hidden Valley. Hidden Valley is a vast valley surrounded by many gorgeous Joshua trees and huge boulders that are so fun and easy to climb. A perfect place to wander and explore!
Cholla Cactus Garden is another place that you absolutely must stop to see! Located about 12 miles south of the park's north entrance, this flat loop trail is 0.25 miles and leads you through the incredible landscape of unique looking teddybear cholla.
Lastly, if there's still some time left to make one more stop, make sure you do that at Skull Rock. Skull Rock is a unique rock formation that resembles a giant skull and can be easily explored from a pull-off along the road.
And that are 5 reasons why you seriously should start planning your next trip to the surreal place that is Joshua Tree!
In case you have more questions about when's the best time to visit Joshua Tree, how many days you need to see everything, what other unique and Joshua Tree specific tours you must do there, leave a comment below or contact me directly, and we can talk more!