About a month ago Michael and I went to Joshua Tree for a little getaway. Since moving to California we made a list of nearby places we want to check out + visit. Obviously, Joshua Tree was a no-brainer. This was our second California getaway since moving to the West Coast — you can check out our Big Bear adventure HERE.
We stayed in Joshua Tree for 2 nights/3days. You can accomplish quite a bit in this limited timeframe. So, a few thoughts about Joshua Tree. It’s like another world out there. It’s wild, sometimes otherworldly, and beautiful. It’s a quintessential “western” experience. And by that I mean, there are all kinds of western plants on the horizon, cacti, dirt roads, dust, and mountains. If you’re from the midwest (like me) or East Coast, you’ll really feel in awe of the beauty.
WHERE WE STAYED
We stayed at an amazing little Airbnb. The listing for it is HERE. It had cool dirt roads leading up to it and was on a generous piece of land. This homestead cabin was recently refurbished and is super cute and modern. There was a really cool grill/smoker in the backyard that Michael just loved! Michael is all about the BBQ. Other than all the brand-new amenities and furnishings, our favorite part of this property was the land behind the cabin. This private property had GORGEOUS trails and rock boulders on site. In a word, it was stunning. We took Shadow back there a couple times, one for sunset and one for sunrise. Just magical and so secluded. Highly recommend if any of you are looking for a perfect little place in Joshua Tree.
WHAT WE ATE
We brought Shadow with us on this trip so our options for dining out were limited. On our arrival day we got food to-go from this super random Indian restaurant. It was SO GOOD. Oh my gosh, we were obsessed.
For day 2 we we had a cute little breakfast in our cabin. We were out in the wilderness all day so we brought snacks with us (dried fruits, granola, beef jerkey, smartwater).
For dinner on day 2 we had a feast at the cabin. Often when we go on getaways we like to stay in and cook. Especially if we’re out in the woods/country a bit. It just feels so cozy and feels much more fun to cook on vacation than it does at home. Does anyone else feel that way?? Cooking on vacation is fun and romantic, cooking at home is the worst. On this night we both had bailey’s and Michael grilled steaks outside. The stars were so clear and it was so brisk outside, which was a nice change from San Diego. I made green beans and sauteed mushrooms.
For day 3 (leaving day) we packed up and then went back out to the National Park. We went on the off-roading trails and had a picnic. It was totally secluded and desolate. Perfect.
WHAT WE DID
This was a very chill trip for us, we spent literally all of our time at the cabin and at Joshua Tree National Park. This was during Michael’s POM leave before he left, so we wanted it to be mostly a quiet time in nature with each other. There are a lots of things to do in or around Joshua Tree, but we just stuck to the wilderness #isolated. You guys sent me a few recs on Instagram! Including: Crossroads Cafe, Pappy and Harriet’s, and Pioneer Town. I’ve heard the Cholla Cactus Garden and the Ocatillos Garden are super gorgeous.
Day 1: we drove into town and got settled at the cabin. Since the sun sets so early this time of year, we didn’t get to explore much the first day. As soon as we got to the cabin we took a path that took us to the back of the property. It was like a boulder playground back there. Panoramic views for as far as the eye could see, dirt paths to different areas, and huge rocks everywhere. And most importantly, all to ourselves!!
Day 2: After breakfast and coffee, we headed to Joshua Tree National Park. Here’s the the BIG thing with Joshua Tree National Park — dogs are not allowed on the trails. Which isn’t that surprising, because it is a National Park. And I mean, it’s the desert. So most of the year you wouldn’t really want your dog with you because of the heat.
But we’re obnoxious, and brought Shadow. LOL did you guys think I would leave her behind? So, this is how you have fun in Joshua Tree National Park with your dog…
You can bring them with you into the park, they’re totally allowed. They’re just not allowed on the walking trails, backcountry, and picnic sites. They ARE allowed on all of the dirt off-roading trails that are in the park. There are lots of these dirt driving roads!! Some of them are actually in the backcountry. There’s actually quite a few of them in the park. We went on almost all of them. You can drive your vehicle on the road, or just park your vehicle and go walking with your dog. We saw a few people with their dogs on the dirt roads.
From actually off-roading, to exploring the backcountry roads with Shadow, and driving around the park on the paved roads, a full day at Joshua Tree flew by. Highly recommend bringing snacks and water (duh!).
Day 3: We woke up before dawn to do a sunrise photoshoot in the boulders behind our cabin. I wanted photos of Michael and myself before he left but didn’t have the time to hire anyone. So we just shot them ourselves with a tripod. It was frigid cold. And windy. But so worth it. Photos to come shortly y’all.
WHAT I WORE
Canadian tuxedo all day long. LOL just kidding, kinda. So we went in December which was perfect weather. The air was crisp and cool. The nights got cold, and the days were delightfully warm with the sun beating down on us. We both wore hiking boots as the dirt roads are very dusty — you don’t want tennis shoes just trust me. I’d recommend layers. Jeans/leggings and a tank. Layer that with a pullover sweater, and some kind of outer shell for when the sun goes down.
A FEW NOTES
A few random thoughts. Joshua Tree costs money to get in, but if you or your spouse are active duty military you can get a free annual pass. Try to avoid peak times as there can be long lines to get into the park.
People who permanently live in Joshua Tree chose to live there for the peace and solitude that a desert retreat can provide. When you’re visiting, respect the locals and their hometown.
Not the most dog-friendly getaway I’ve ever seen! Next time we’ll probably board Shadow so we can have a little more freedom.
There is no cell service in Joshua Tree National Park so plan ahead. Make sure your car is full of gas, you have food and water, and a paper map!
I hope you guys enjoyed! Love sharing our adventures with you. Xx