48 Hours in Joshua Tree with Hipcamp
Continuing on from my last blog post about the best cabins and camping around Flagstaff, the second half of that road trip was spent in Southern California around Joshua Tree!
Camping and things to do Around Joshua Tree
Our next stop after Flagstaff was to head down into the Joshua Tree valley where we met Janet at Long Shadow Ranch! We had originally booked Little Boy Blue, the vintage blue trailer but because our group was a little larger, they let us stay in Buspatch, the remodeled three room bus! Our host, Janet was literally the best. She just casually said she bought us kites to fly and we were all so dang excited! So we spent the day flying kites around the property, before she took us around the washes and taught us about the foliage and history of the land. Long Shadow Ranch also has an outdoor shower which was amazing after a few days of not showering. Standing in the middle of the desert with the wind blowing the shower curtain and the wildflowers around, was one of my favorite experiences of the whole trip. I think you can ask any of my friends, any excuse to be naked outside is an amenity to me.
Joshua Tree is sort of this picturesque area that has so many cute shops and places to explore. I really don’t think you’ll be unhappy if you happen to visit without a plan of anything to do because you could spend a week exploring the National Park or the shops in town or even the BLM land in the area. Here are some of the things we visited in the area:
(**Also side disclaimer that Caitlin is an incredible self-portrait photographer so the photos of her in the flower field are me totally just snapping my own shot of what she was envisioning, creating, and shooting herself. Also we 100% had permission from the owner to be there and to pick flowers too!)
Cabins and things to do in Green Valley Lake, California
If you’re visiting Joshua Tree in the summer and need a little reprieve from the heat, just head about an hour west up to Big Bear, California where you’ll find yourself in a forest of big boulders, alpine lakes, and ponderosa pine.
The Engels Nest is this cozy cabin that we got to end our trip in. We left Joshua Tree after exploring the cute little shops downtown and then headed up 247 through Big Bear and into Green Valley Lake. You pass by all of these amazing fields of joshua trees and boulders before you start heading up the mountain. Once in Big Bear, there’s a lot to do and in early April there was still some snow! However, after our long days of driving, we opted to just head straight to our destination. While Big Bear is the largest town in the area, we stayed in Green Valley Lake which is more like a residential neighborhood than a bustling tourist mountain town and it was a retreat after being tourists in Joshua Tree.
We took an evening walk down to the lake where there is a pay beach to swim at in the summer, and admired the many cabins and houses in the area. My favorite was a four story house built into the mountainside that I didn’t even take a photo of! We walked around the lake where a woman told us to keep an eye out for an eagle that nests in the trees, before heading back to the cabin where camp mom Stevi made the most delicious meal that I immediately made again when I got home a few days later. Pesto pasta with white beans, home made garlic bread, and a cucumber and avocado lemon arugula salad. THE BEST.
Also check out these pine cones. I don’t think the photos do them justice for how huge they were!
Side Trips Around Joshua Tree
The next day we didn't have any where planned to stay so we decided to just head back home. We stopped at the dinosaurs in Cabazon, Palm Springs, Roys on Route 66, and then spent the day in the Mojave National Preserve exploring all of the fun things to do in the area to keep the long drive broken up! I definitely recommend stopping at Kelso dunes on your way through the Mojave, even though the side road in is actually the worst pot-holed road, and the dunes are sooo hot, even in the winter.
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