Straddling the Mohave and Colorado deserts, Joshua Tree National Park in California is so named for it’s gorgeous, twisting Joshua Trees sprawling over the landscape. The area is known for its serenity, and therefore is frequented as a refuge from the nearby hustle-and-bustle of Los Angeles.
But don’t be put off by the area’s vast wilderness. A trip to Joshua Tree will hardly leave you bored. Along with the park, the area is dotted with funky little towns and homesteads, just waiting to be discovered by you.
So without much further ado, here are my recommendations for how to spend a day in Joshua Tree!
Stay at Joshua Tree Inn
In the grand spirit of Rock n’ Roll, you should without a doubt check yourself in to a place named Joshua Tree Inn. A colorful hacienda-style building set right off of Twentynine Palms Highway, the inn was built in 1950 and is situated just 6 miles from Joshua Tree National Park. The rooms are all eclectic and kitschy in their own unique way, and the property is outfitted with an outdoor pool.
Moreover, the Joshua Tree Inn is long-time haven for musicians looking to find their muse, and the hotel is still frequented by artists such as Donovan, Robert Plant, and Emmylou Harris. Plus, if you stay in Room #8, you will be staying in the same room where legendary alt-country musician Gram Parsons died of an overdose, but I understand if you decide to opt out of that.
Have Barbecue At Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace
Founded in 1982, Pappy & Harriet’s is a nation-wide treasure known for it’s incredible barbecue, live music, and friendly albeit rustic atmosphere. The kitchen uses only one giant mesquite barbecue, and all selections are made to order, so if you plan on visiting Pappy & Harriet’s, surely make a reservation before you arrive, or you will be left to wait an hour like I did. Learn from my mistakes.
If you still need proof that you don’t want to miss this place, it is featured on a special episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, in which he and Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal) stuff themselves with meat. If it’s good enough for Tony…
The establishment is well-known for its live music. Musicians ranging from Robert Plant to Sean Lennon to Eric Burdon have graced P&H’s stage, and they have a superb house band that plays on Sundays. Additionally, the property is home to the annual Desert Stars Festival that happens every September.
Chill out at the Integratron
A giant, white dome-like building in the Mohave desert, the Integratron was initially built for the purposes of time travel and cell rejuvenation. Today, it is used by pilgrims from all walks of life for deep meditation and relaxation during one of their specialty sound baths. If you plan on partaking in a sound bath, it is best to book online a couple weeks in advance, as availability isn’t guaranteed.
Directly adjacent to Pappy & Harriet’s, Pioneer town was originally created in the 1940’s as a live-in film set. Meaning, the actors would actually live in the buildings while using these homes in old western films. It’s original proprietors were Roy Rogers, Dick Curtis, and Russell Hayden, and Gene Autry would often tape his show at the bowling alley.
Today, the site provides and eerie look into film days gone past with a old-timey bank, saloon, bathhouse, and hotel. Not to mention the giant fake sticks of dynamite reminding you that Toto, you ain’t in Kansas anymore.
Joshua Tree National Park is known for its amazing scenery, so why not get up close and personal with it? There are multiple pre-routed trails you can take that will appease any level of hiker. Just make sure to wear knee-high rattler repellent socks and bring along an anti-venom kit for just in case (Kidding, not kidding – I’m terrified of snakes).
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