Category Archives: Destinations

Joshua Tree National Park


The girls and I took a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park. It was a 45 minute drive from our RV park in Palm Desert.

I’d like to throw a shout out to my brother, Joshua.  Hi Bro! Yes, I did expose the girls to the U2 songs on the Joshua Tree album after we got off the phone.

The Mojave and the Colorado deserts come together inside this park, each with a very distinct ecosystem.  This park has just over 700,000 acres, so it’s almost as large as Big Bend NP. We started at the south end at the Cottonwood visitors center so we had to drive through the desert for an hour before we even reached the higher altitude where we saw our first Joshua tree. Then they were everywhere! The Joshua tree is really a pretty cool looking plant.

From jumbo rocks to mountain vistas, this national park as so much more than Joshua Trees.

We took all day driving through the park and exited through the north entrance. The drive home took an hour and a half but it was worth it to be able to see the whole park. The girls wanted to spend the night after seeing the park but we had not packed any camping gear. It was very odd to drive out of the park gate another 5 miles before we arrived at the official Joshua Tree Visitors Center, which is in the middle of a town. I’ve never seen that before. We made it just in time to get the junior ranger badges and ask about the unique jumbo rocks. It’s a really cool process that can be described by watching this quick little video that the national park service made.



Why are these plants called Joshua Tree’s you ask? According to legend, early Mormon settlers thought they looked like the Biblical prophet Joshua reaching his arms up to the sky in prayer. In the park, you can see them standing alone distantly spaced from one another to densely packed fields of them.

Believe it or not we ran into Yoda while we were there!

We loved having Yoda tag along with us all day.  After checking in at the visitor center to pick up our map and junior ranger books we headed to the Cottonwood Spring Oasis trial. It was bizarre to see these Palm trees in the middle of the desert. But we found out that they grow in the small pockets of water found here. The spring, the result of earthquake activity, was used for centuries by the Cahuilla Indians, who left bedrock mortars and clay pots, or ollas, in the area.

Picnic lunch among the Cholla garden was especially lovely. The trail here is very short.

We hiked around Jumbo Rocks campground after lunch. By hiked, I mean climbed.

Without even knowing the size or what the Skull Rock looked like, Mackenzie decided when she saw it on the map that she wanted to have a snack in the eye of the skull. When we arrived it did not disappoint, but seemed very challenging to climb into the eye but she did it! She believes she was a monkey in her past life!

We hiked and played hide and seek in the Hidden Valley.

Here is the YouTube video we made of our trip

The Joshua Trees and Keys View

It is well worth it to take the trail to Keys View. You can see Palm Springs (where we were staying) from atop the mountain, as well as, the San Andreas Fault.

We spent about 6 1/2 hours in the park and were able to eat lunch and take 4 hikes, that equals a great day in my book!

FYI- if you are planning to camp or need gps… there is NO cell phone coverage in the park.

Palm Desert and Palm Springs, CA

We stayed at Emerald Coast RV resort in Palm Desert, CA. It is right next to Palm Springs if you are familiar with that. It is beautiful here, very lush and green in the middle of the desert mountains.  The weather is so warm! This RV park was packed and the spots are tight. Of course, it’s the most expensive park we’ve stayed at but it’s California- everything is expensive here!

There are 142 golf courses in this area. All the neighborhoods are arranged in nice square blocks surrounding golf courses. Everyone drives golf carts, not in the streets but in the designated golf cart/bike lane, yes that’s what it’s labeled.  We took advantage of the bike lanes and took a nice family bike ride around some of the neighborhoods.

Chris was able to play golf on Sunday while the girls and I went to the pool.

The pool


We drove over to Palm Springs, which we heard is an a popular get away for Los Angeles residents.

Elvis Presley’s Honeymoon house


Palm Springs is an extension of Los Angeles. I think the stars buy a house here and visit when they are tired of the hustle and bustle (mainly traffic) of LA. It has a small town feel and is quiet.

The first house- Kaufmann Desert House: This home is one of the most famous pieces of real estate in Palm Springs.  Built in 1946 and purchased by Pittsburgh department store owner Edgar J. Kaufmann as a vacation home. In 1970, the home changed ownership to Barry Manilow and then to Brent and Beth Harris in the 1990 for $15 million.

The second house-Ann Miller’s Home: The late actress’ Spanish-style house was built in 1928. It is the largest lot in the famed Los Palmas neighborhood.

The downtown area as a Stars Walk of Fame just like in Hollywood.

After walking the block to see all the stars we ate at Bill’s Pizza. The wait was about 15 minutes at 5:00 pm. It’s rated best Pizza place in Southern California. We all agreed with the reviews, it was excellent! Mackenzie discovered Hawaiian pizza here and ate the entire 10 inch herself! We brought Star Wars Family Feud game with us to dinner to play while we waited for our food. I made it a travel size by only bringing a small stack of questions. It stays in the car to play when we eat out, thanks Dupree Family for the gift!

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We stopped by the Children’s Discovery Museum in Rancho Mirage after dropping Chris off at the airport. The girls enjoyed building race cars and playing in the grocery store and pizza shop.


We planned a lesson on freezing point depression because it’s winter and we had discussed salting roads to clear the ice. What better way to do this than to make ice cream!

We visited Joshua Tree National Park from this location but I will do a separate post on that.