Joshua Tree: A Desert Wonderland for Families

Only a few hours from LA and San Diego but it feels like a world away from the rest of California..

For years we’ve been going to San Diego and been captivated by the beautiful beaches, warm water( warm by California standards), and perfect burritos. This year I decided to extend our annual winter break trip for a few days to allow time to take a vacation within a vacation to Joshua Tree National Park.  For the price of two tickets to Lego Land the boys and I had two days of sun filled, soul feeding, desert glamping.

What to do: On of my favorite things about Joshua Tree, and what makes it such a family friendly park, is the abundance of short hikes. Many of the hikes are loops that are under two miles but offer incredible scenery. In fact a mile loop would take us two hours to walk because of all the stops for bouldering and cave exploring ( the boys) and picture taking (me). We opted to keep a cooler in the car so that after each hike we could return to the car and refuel rather than have to carry tons of kid snacks with us. Our favorite hikes were Baker Dam (1.1 miles) and Hidden Valley (1 mile.) Skull Rock  (1.7 miles) was also a good one with kids but be warned that you will have to walk through the campground and across the road to complete the loop.

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Eat: We saved big money by bringing some simple food to sustain us for breakfast and lunch.  For dinner we went to Pizza For the People, which according to one local is the “best place to eat in the Village of Joshua Tree”. A bustling pizza place that sells pizza by the slice and as whole pies it hit the spot and didn’t hit the bank account too hard.

Sleep: We stayed in the Village of Joshua Tree in an Airstream trailer about that I found on AirBNB. With cleaning fees it was about $150 and an easy 10 minute drive to the entrance of the park.  The kids loved it and it gave us the feel of camping without having to pack all the gear and weather the chilly winter desert nights. If you want to stay in the park, camping is the only option and all stores/ restaurants are outside the park.

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Gear: Here are a few essential items that helped our trip go smoothly..

  • Wide brimmed hats
  • Sunscreen
  • Insulated water bottles (everyone appreciates icy cold water)
  • Cooler
  • Fruit for snacks (helps keep the kiddos hydrated)
  • Easily compacted down jackets
  • Small daypack
  • Shoes with good traction
  • Pants to protect knees when bouldering
  • oreos or some other type of hiking motivation for tired kids
  • wine for adults after bedtime

 

 

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