Our trip to Joshua Tree was completely spontaneous and unplanned. It was a result of post Thanksgiving blues since we couldn't fly back East for the holiday and instead got super drunk together in our apartment and ate a Thanksgiving meal for eight between the two of us. We woke up Friday morning sad and six months pregnant and instead of braving the Black Friday crowds we decided to pack up our camping stuff (which we have a LOT of thanks to the adorable 65 year old REI salesman *shout out to you Bob*) and head out for a weekend road trip under the stars.
Thankfully, we were able to find a campsite for Friday and Saturday night super last minute thanks to Hipcamp. Hipcamp is kind of like the Airbnb of camping. It's got anything from your $20/night camp sites, to airstreams, to tree houses. We spent most of Saturday exploring and hiking and Sunday we treated ourselves to some drinks in Pioneertown which I've outlined below!
Joshua Tree has multiple trails you can choose from to really take the park in, but no matter which you go with, you'll be surrounded by the odd, Dr. Seuss like trees that have flooded the parks and that in itself is a sight you have to see in this lifetime. Peep my tips on perfecting a weekend in Joshua Tree below!
Travel Guide for Joshua Tree
- There are a few campsites within the actual park but these book up VERY far in advance so you will have to plan your stay at least 3-4 months out to snag one of these. They are listed here and you can always call the National Park to check for availability.
- If these sites are booked, camping in a tent isn't your thing OR you just want a little more privacy, check out some of the cool options HipCamp offers in Joshua Tree HERE!
- We stayed at the Copper Mountain Ranch site. It was the perfect sized camp site, offered a large table, a super clean out house, a fire pit and you will wake up literally right next to the couple of horses that inhabit the owners land, there really is no better company to your early morning sunrise and cup of coffee than these black beauties. We will deff be back here!
- Hiking is a MUST in Joshua Tree. There are about 8-10 different trails you can choose from. Doug obviously chose the longest/hardest one for us to try: The Lost Palms Oasis. This is a 7 mile round trip hike in and out trail (as opposed to a loop). You hike about 3.5 miles in and will find yourself surrounded by the tallest most beautiful palms in the middle of the desert. Tips: This trail is HARD and requires some climbing. Would not recommend for elderly or children. Pack at LEAST a liter of water per person, wear a hat as there is no shade here at all and lots of sunscreen. This hike took us about three hours but was deff worth it. You may get lucky and come across some desert lizards, or better yet, a desert tortoise.
- The second trail we did on Sunday morning was the Hidden Valley Trail. This was MUCH easier and more of a chance to explore, climb some serious boulders, take some sick photos and enjoy some history as there are trail markers with some fun facts along the way. This trail is about a 1.5 mile loop. It's called Hidden Valley because you're surrounded by massive boulders and apparently this place is where the men in the wild west kept their cattle hidden from gangsta lookin' to steal their herd which is f*cked up if you ask me.
- Lunch - Crossroads Cafe. This place is a must for your post hiking cold beer. It's a divey type place right outside the main entrance to the park. It's got a ton of menu options and even some special plates for you Vegans out there, but if you're not a Vegan get the mac and cheese, seriously...get the mac and cheese, don't make me say it a third time (GetTheMacAndCheese).
- Sunday Funday - Pinoneertown is an ABSOLUTE must if you're visiting Joshua Tree. Seriously, this place is SO cool and an awesome way to spend your Sunday if you're beat from a Saturday of hiking like I was lol. This is a vintage old western town founded by some Hollywood directors where they used to shoot western movies in the 1940's. It offers super cute shops where you can snag some awesome leather pieces, jewelry, soap from goats milk (even the chance to meet the goat that the milk came from!), etc.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY, while in Pioneertown, you HAVE to have lunch at Pappy and Harriet's. It was voted top 10 restaurants in all of Palms Springs but you'd never know that when you walk through its weathered, wooden doors. Get the brisket or chili dog and you'll never the be same. Additionally, and I truly mean this with all of my heart and soul, this place has the best Bloody Mary I've ever had. It's a simple, no garnishes kinda bloody, but the perfect balance of cocktail, spice, tomato and vodka, in fact, get seven you won't regret it. Enjoy your trip to Joshua Tree and honestly let me know if you end up going I will GLADLY meet you there!