Feeling more Spring Broke than Spring Break? For local California babes looking to chill out or Coachella-bound explorers, we suggest getting lost amid the jaw-dropping scenery in Joshua Tree. Not only does the city boast an impressive National Park (you can’t beat $20 for a 7-day vehicle permit — go ahead, invite all your friends), but the surrounding off-the-map destinations (see below) are just what the doctor ordered for creative-minded adventurers. And it’s all mere miles away from Los Angeles.
Spring is the perfect time to wander around this desert city with temps averaging in the mid to low 70s — just cool enough to enjoy the landscape without feeling like you’re being roasted. The jagged mountain ranges and scattered rock formations are too cool not to experience firsthand, so pack a pair of leggings and get ready to take a hike.
The entire park is vast, but if you’re there for the weekend, start by entering from the North Entrance Station and head southwest toward the Jumbo Rocks. Pull over when you spot Skull Rock (pictured) and embark on a trail that will lead you to some enormous boulders and beautiful look-out points. Or, if you’re more interested in flat hikes, drive in from the West Entrance Station and discover the Hidden Valley.
So what should you pack for a day of adventuring?
Some reliable, neutral-colored sneakers are your best bet for climbing rocks and dirt slopes with ease.
Or opt for a pair of sturdy, leather boots with extra grip so you can stomp around the trails (sans blisters) all day long.
If you’re planning to roam around at dusk, bundle up against the chilly evening temps and tie your outfit together at the same time with an insulated, packable puffer jacket.
For those looking to make this excursion into a real road trip (yes, please), these nearby attractions are also worth checking out.
Originally erected in the ’80s as a tribute to God, Salvation Mountain creator Leonard Knight used a massive amount of adobe, straw, and lead-free paint to make his artwork come to life. Located in Imperial County, this tourist attraction prominently features Bible verses and Christian sayings between various Whoville-like rooms. The site has gained popularity among youth culture, most recently being featured in a Coldplay music video in January.
The Cabazon Dinosaurs
Located less than an hour west of the city of Joshua Tree off the I-10, the Cabazon Dinosaurs are exactly what you imagine when you think of roadside pit stops — a completely off-beat novelty attraction. Featured in various films including Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, the 45-foot sculptured dinos now double as a museum, but the photo op is the real star here.
Bombay Beach isn’t the kind of Spring Break beach destination where you make sandcastles in the sand or splash around in the waves. It’s got more of a post-apocalyptic feel. The town is in ruins, long-dead fish are scattered in neat piles across the shore, and the sand itself is made up of pulverized bones of millions of dead fish. Sure, it’s not your typical pit-stop, but it’s guaranteed to be an unforgettable one.
Salton Sea Mud Volcanoes
South of Bombay Beach but still bordering the Salton Sea, you’ll find a strip of “mud volcanoes” bubbling and gurgling to life. It’s geology in action. Listen to the snuffling from the vents of the cones, smell the natural gases, but be sure to stand back if you want to avoid getting splashed with blobs of boiling hot mud.
When you’re on the road, elect to bring these essentials:
A patterned backpack is the perfect fusion of fashion and function, and your ultimate companion between destinations to keep your hands free for taking scenery selfies.
Unexpected gusts of wind are common in the desert, so tackle this problem the cool girl way — with a badass leather jacket in tow.
Most importantly, get out there and create your own memories in the California desert. You’ll quickly see why so many consider it a favorite spring getaway.