Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree is a desert paradise. The landscape is truly one of a kind. There you’ll encounter enormous orange boulders, valleys of climbable rocks, various types of cacti, and of course, miles and miles of Joshua trees. It’s located in southern California and spans across the Colorado Desert as well as the Mojave.

This was the first place we took the van when our official cross-country trip began so it was a pretty memorable stop for us! It was also the first desert that either of us have really had the chance to explore before. There are tons of hikes in the area but we chose to veer off the trails and find our own way. We climbed up rock piles where we were able to get a better look of the place from up above. You have to be careful where you step because there are cacti hidden in-between the rocks everywhere! Some of them were in bloom, and we saw so many different colored cactus flowers. The Joshua trees are all over too! They are the most bizarre looking trees; they looked like something out of a Dr. Seuss book.

There are so many different campgrounds to choose from too, and even though we were there during peak season, we easily found a site at Jumbo Rocks campground. It was a first-come first-serve site for $15 but there was no camp host so it ran on the honor system. The sites are all nestled at the base of these huge rock stacks that towered up maybe a hundred feet high. Tip: if you camp here, climb up the rocks for an incredible view for the sunset! And Joshua Tree is known for its bright starry skies, so once the sun is down, you’ll have a perfect view of the Milky Way. We climbed up our van and laid on the roof for some stargazing.

It’s not all flat desert though! There’s a road that leads to an incredible overlook called Keys View where you can also get a good view of the surrounding mountains and fault lines below.

Location: Joshua Tree National Park