How to Roadtrip through California's Desert

In an attempt to tick off a few more national parks from our bucket list, J and I decided to take a roadtrip down to Southern California the week between Christmas and New Years. I was looking for a way to disconnect from technology (since I work in software development) and he, a way to get more outdoor climbing in. 

Itinerary:

1 night in Palm Springs (to see what the fuss is all about) at the Caliente Tropics 

4 nights in Joshua Tree National Park at AirBnB Mojave Green

  • This was probably the most special AirBnB we have ever stayed in. It was an old homesteader cabin that had been renovated. Think tiny home living with the charms of the desert. Check it out!

1 night in Death Valley National Park at Texas Spring Campground

1 night outside Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks at Best Western Exeter

Highlights:

In Palm Springs, you must...

  • Take a walking tour of the neighborhoods and take in the 1950s architecture
  • Enjoy some ice cream at Great Shakes
  • Stroll down Main Street and take in the cute cafes and art galleries

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Joshua Tree Best Of...

  • Do a walk in session at Instant Karma Yoga. I did a yoga + sound bath and it was just the most calming thing.
  • Grab a drink at the Joshua Tree Saloon and do some people watching.
  • Hunt for some antiques in Yucca Valley - we brought home a hollowed out Chola cactus to hang on out wall
  • Wander through Pioneertown and pretend you are in WestWorld
  • Hiking and climbing, of course! Scramble some rocks in Joshua Tree National Park, hike around Barker Dam, and climb in Hidden Valley campground.

Death Valley charms...

  • Badwater Basin - tourist filled but worth it to say you've been to the lowest point in North America! Salt flats go for as far as the eye can see, up until they reach the Eastern Sierras
  • Do Artist's Drive to see Artist's Palette - here's a trick, it is about halfway through the driving trail, not the first turnoff that everyone goes to!
  • Visit the Mesquite Flat sand dunes

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks...

  • In the winter, your activities are a bit limited, but you can snow shoe or cross country ski. We opted for some cross country skiing, renting at Grant Grove, taking a photo of the ski trail map and hitting the snow!
  • You also can't leave Sequoia without a photo by General Sherman Tree, the largest tree in the world. 
  • Remember to always carry chains with you in winter - they are legally required in the park and you can be asked to put them on at any time. Fortunately we didn't have to!