Joshua Tree Photo Diary


I had the chance to spend a few days in Palm Springs/Joshua Tree with family this spring "break." We roadtripped into the desert heart of California, a biome so different from anything I'd ever seen.

On the first day we drove to Yucca Valley, on the outskirts of Joshua Tree National Park. We stopped to pet the Cabazon Dinosaurs before arriving at the winding driveway of our cute Airbnb casita atop the hills. The property was huge and overlooks the valley. Despite the chilly winds we braved the cold to explore this adorably decorated mountain paradise and take in the 360-degree views. 

We spent the evening strolling through nearby Pioneertown, the "Old West" ghost town made up of historic movie sets from the 1940s. I love that the buildings were constructed to not just be a set but an actual little town worth visiting, complete with stables, saloons, and even a jail.

Day two we journeyed into Joshua Tree National Park. This place is downright breathtaking. Have you ever seen nature so perfect?

We stopped at a few hiking spots in the park and everything was desert amazingness: joshua trees, jumbo rocks, and incredible geologic wonders. And just the right amount of crowds on a perfect sunny day. We started on the northern Mojave Desert side of the park and drove south, feeling the significant rise in temperature as we descended across the Little San Bernardino Mountains into cactus world. We exited the park into Coachella Valley and continued south, and found ourselves at a giant oasis in the middle of the desert: Salton Sea.

Boy was this beach an interesting one. Salton Sea is saline lake located directed on the San Andreas Fault, full of polluted water from agricultural drainage. The lakebed of this largest lake in California was once a resort destination, but has since turned into a skeleton-filled wasteland of fish carcasses. From afar the beach looks white and beautiful. But in a landscape so perfectly apocalyptic, even the sand is covered in fragments of fish skeletons. So fascinating.

We stayed in Salton City, at an Airbnb house by the lake, which I suspect is a recently developed property. The house was huge with perfect views of the serene lake, but the town was pretty much an abandoned ghost town. We had to drive a few miles to get find a hint of civilization. Quite a escape from the bustling city life I'm used to.


The last stop of our desert road trip was none other than Instagram cult-favorite location Salvation Mountain. Basically a dude decided to create a tribute to God and singlehandedly built a mountain from adobe and paint over three decades. Whatever your perspective on life, this work of art is definitely something to be admired. It's a mountain/shrine/art piece of rainbow colors in the middle of desert nowhere! Alice in Wonderland vibes all around and so. much. paint.

T'was a fun two days exploring yet another vastly unique area of California. The desert is so peaceful, but so mighty in a way that reminds you how small you are in the landscape of nature. Can't wait to come back again.