This is the infamous Joshua Tree, a national park two hours east of Los Angeles, perfect for a weekend escape. Despite its barren lands and excessive heat, I have never felt a sense of freedom, tranquility and love quite like I do in the desert. Driving through the park is an adventure for some and a spiritual journey for others. Whatever you are looking for, you will find it there.
If you drive continuously through the park, it will only take one and a half hours, so take your time if you have the entire day. If you are going for sunset, I suggest starting at the northern entrance in the town of Joshua Tree so you won't be blinded by the sun while driving.
The park is marked with different stopping points with great views and unique rock formations. My favorites are Hidden Valley, Keys View and the Cholla Cactus Garden. This map from the National Park Service will help.
For the adventurer, Joshua Tree is a great place for rock climbing, bouldering, camping, hiking and slack-lining. With around 8,000 climbing routes and 191 miles of hiking trails, there is enough to keep you busy for a couple days. If you are looking to relax, climb up a beautiful rock formation with a view and pray, mediate, picnic, do yoga, whatever!
Whenever I visit the Mojave Desert region, I like to stay in Palm Springs, about 30 minutes from Joshua Tree. Typically, I stay at the boutique Ace Hotel or the newly renovated V Hotel right next door, both of which have an open-air layout, desert ambiance and vibrant pool scene.
Some other spots I love:
-Pappy & Harriet's the "Pioneertown Palace," a restaurant an music venue in the middle of nowhere, California. Enjoy live music outside under the brilliant stars while eating a freshly grilled burger. SIGHHH
-The Sound Bath at Integratron: Enjoy a relaxing 60 minute sonic healing session in a bubble shaped building purely for the unique experience.