Highlights from Joshua Tree, California

Mountain girls like me aren’t supposed to like the desert. I never understood the allure, but it had me my first visit. My friend owns a house in Joshua Tree, CA and drives there every weekend from LA, where she works. It has her too. She invited me out a couple of years ago, and I’ve been back a handful of times since then. I don’t know if it’s the laid-back pace, tranquility, light, or characters, but I’ve never felt more relaxed than when I’m there.

Desert Tortoise

This photo was taken in Joshua Tree National Park (JTNP). The Desert Tortoise‘s status is “threatened,” just one notch below “endangered.” This guy was slowly crossing the road. It’s illegal to touch a tortoise unless you’re removing him from danger, which we did. Their average speed is 0.2 mph.
Desert Tortoise


Teddybear Cholla

Teddybear Cholla is a fuzzy-looking cactus native to California, Arizona, Nevada, and northwestern Mexico. This image was taken in JTNP right before sunset.

Teddybear Cholla


Noah Purifoy’s Outdoor Desert Museum

This 7.5 acre site display artist’s, Noah Purifoy’s, large-scale assemblage sculptures made from junked material. To learn more, check out noahpurifoy.com.

Noah Purifoy

The Golden Hour at JTNP

These photos were taken during the “Golden Hour” or “Magic Hour,” just before sunset. The colors are amazing! You’ll also notice how some of the JTNP’s beautiful rock formations, sudden and stunning outcroppings, look like they came from a movie set. Nerd out and learn more about the park’s unique rock formations here and  its namesake’s Joshua trees here.Joshua Tree National Park

The park’s terrain is no joke. When hiking its trails, make sure to bring a map, compass, lots of water and wear proper clothing.



Integratron is a wooden dome located 20 minutes outside of JT in a town called Landers. Author and ufologist, George Van Tassel, built this structure with instructions he claimed to have received from aliens visiting from Venus. The dome is acoustically perfect because it was built without screws or nails. There is a magnet in the center of the ceiling that amplifies the surrounding powerful, geomagnetic forces. The Integratron’s signature experience is its sounds baths where guests lie on blankets for a sonic healing session. It’s relaxing and trippy—you can even hear people whispering clear across the room! For more info, visit integratron.com.


Crossroads Café

I don’t go to JT without stopping at Crossroads Café. The restaurant offers hearty breakfasts and sandwiches with many veg-friendly options! A couple doors down is a Joshua Tree Health Foods — a store where you can stock up for the park before hitting the trails.


Pappy & Harriet’s

Pappy & Harriet’s is up the road in Pioneertown, where a ton of westerns have been filmed since the 1940’s. This restaurant/bar opened in 1972 as an outlaw biker burrito bar. Today, you can find bands playing just about every night. A lot of locals head there, but it’s a popular travel spot as well. A must see!

Pappy & Harriet

Country Kitchen

Don’t be fooled by the name. Country Kitchen offers typical country classic breakfasts. Or, Maria, the restaurant’s motherly Cambodian owner can serve you up tofu noodles, extra spicy! Coffee is never half-empty and Maria never stops smiling. You can’t feel anything but love for this place.

Country Kitchen

Pin it  Track all these highlights on our interactive Pinterest map


Brandi Phipps is a Washington DC-based art director who loves a good story. Storytelling is an art, and visual storytelling is her art—whether it’s through a website, magazine layout, or photography. A compelling image can take command of your day in an instant. View more of Brandi’s design work at www.brandiphipps.com.


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  1. Joshua Tree Art Gallery
    Joshua Tree Art GalleryNovember 17,13

    Enjoyed your article & beautiful photographs of the desert. Next time you visit pop in to the gallery .I think you will find some interesting work by our local artist.

    61607 29 Palms hey
    Joshua Tree, Ca. 92252

    Frederick Fulmer

    • Lara Dalinsky
      Lara DalinskyNovember 18,13

      Thanks, Frederick! We’ll have to check it out next time we’re back in Joshua Tree. Digging the range of art work you display.

  2. Joe Hedges
    Joe HedgesNovember 18,13

    Beautiful photos! One of my favorite places on earth and a continuing source of inspiration for my art.

    • Lara Dalinsky
      Lara DalinskyNovember 18,13

      Thanks, Joe! I can see why it is a source of inspiration and how it translates into your work. Let us know if ever you’d like to do a guest post for En Route Traveler about the Solgonda project. The concept of the interactive, digital postcard is fascinating — especially when tied into the concept of travel and interpreting the world around us.

  3. me va be tinh yeu vinh cuu
    me va be tinh yeu vinh cuuMarch 23,14

    Hey there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my myspace group?

    There’s a lot of folks that I think would really enjoy your content.
    Please let me know. Cheers

    • Lara Dalinsky
      Lara DalinskyMarch 25,14

      Hi Mariam, we’d love it if you spread the word! Thanks for suggesting us and let us know what more you’d like to see. Happy travels!

  4. Anonymous
    AnonymousJune 13,15

    Great Article Lara,

    I have started reading through your blogs and think they are fantastic!


    (Fellow Zumba dancer)