This year one of my goals was to explore Southern California. My husband and I have lived in Southern California our whole lives yet have so much exploring to do. We decided to take a three-day weekend to go to Joshua Tree. We will definitely be going back.
On our way to Joshua Tree we took an extra two hour detour to Salvation Mountain. This instagram-famous piece of art was well worth the extra time in the car. “From its Sea of Galilee at the bottom, to the big red heart in the middle, to the cross at the very top, the reoccurring theme of “Love” is everywhere at Salvation Mountain.” (http://www.salvationmountain.us/) It is all about God’s love and how He never fails.
We spent two nights in Joshua Tree and I can’t wait to go back. Here are some things that we enjoyed during our mini-vacation:
Place to Stay
This is not a sponsor/ad for Airbnb but the house we spent the weekend at was a little hidden gem. It was the perfect one bedroom, one bath with a little kitchen area and a living area with a TV, where we watched the Dodgers lose the World Series (sad!).
The cottage was five minutes from “downtown” and 20 minutes from the entrance of the National Park. Places like these book up quickly so make sure you reserve your stay well in advance.
The first night, we went to the Joshua Tree Saloon. The atmosphere is of a local pub but the food was amazing. My husband and I shared their full rack of ribs and churros. We would rate it as one of the best ribs we have ever tried. And you can’t go wrong with churros and chocolate dipping sauce.
After a 6.5 mile hike (see below), we had brunch at Crossroads Cafe. The long wait was worth the delicious food. I wasn’t feeling like breakfast food so I got their Turkey Club. I love a good sandwich and this did not disappoint. My husband had their Usual Breakfast with two eggs over hard, home fried potatoes, bacon and banana bread. He said it was hands down one of the best breakfasts he has ever had.
I really wanted to try Natural Sisters Cafe but I couldn’t be mean and bring my husband to a place that doesn’t serve meat. Their slogan is “Food made with kindness, focus + love.” My kind of place! It was right next to a Natural Food Store that made me feel like a kid in a candy store. I love places like this but they are not always budget friendly. If we would have gone to this cafe, which seemed very popular, I would have ordered the spinach and sundried tomato salad, veggie omelet or avocado + veggie sandwich.
I can officially say we are now National Park Annual Pass holders. This was the more cost effective way to enter the Joshua Tree National Park. The first day we did a 6.5 mile loop on the Lost Horse Mine Trail (one of the most successful gold mines), which you can also make less than 4 miles. This is a moderate hike that will take you around 3-4 hours.
The loop brings you to a mine that “produced over 10,000 ounces of gold and 16,000 ounces of silver between 1894 and 1931. As the story goes, the day shift was producing an amalgam the size of a baseball while the night shift, supervised by Lang, recovered a mere golf ball. Ryan hired a detective to investigate and discovered that when Johnny removed the amalgam from the copper plates, he kept half for himself. Ryan gave Lang a choice: sell out or go to jail. Lang sold, then moved into a nearby canyon where he continued to prospect.” (National Park Service, Joshua Tree).
The second day we were short on time because we had to be out of our Airbnb before noon so we did a three mile hike up Ryan Mountain. This hike is moderately strenuous because the first ⅓ of the hike is uphill, on man-made steps and you climb 1,050 feet. I can walk uphill just fine but when there are steps involved, let’s just say I didn’t miss leg day. And the nice thing is that the second half of the hike is all downhill. At the top, we had panoramic views of the Joshua Tree forests that surround the peak. We also saw a herd of bighorn sheep, which my husband was on the hunt for.
Fun fact: In the Fall, mating competition involves two rams running toward one another at speeds around 40 miles (64 kilometers) an hour and clashing their curled horns, which produces a sound that can be heard a mile away. Most of the characteristic horn-clashing between rams occurs during the pre-rut period, although this behavior may occur to a limited extent throughout the year. (https://www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Wildlife-Guide/Mammals/Bighorn-Sheep)
Joshua Tree is somewhere that I know we will frequent in the future. I can’t believe neither of us had been there before. It is only two hours away from where we live and the perfect weekend getaway spot. Joshua Tree is the place to go to get both outdoor activity and relaxation out of your vacation. I foresee more adventures like this in our near future, including Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon.
If you have any other recommendations, comment below.