Day Trip: Joshua Tree National Park
Alex and I headed out for a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park and the surrounding area on a whim a few weekends ago. We didn’t have any set plans, we just knew we needed some time in the desert.
Our first stop was to Joshua Tree Coffee Company, a super tiny roaster just outside the West Entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. This is seriously good coffee and you can tell they take pride in their work.
Coffee in hand, we headed across the street to Natural Sisters Cafe. We seem to always hit this awesome spot when we’re in town and Alex couldn’t resist ordering the Rock Climber’s Revenge smoothie (his favorite) and I grabbed a chocolate coconut muffin (seriously, you need this) and sat outside in the sun for a bit.
We spent most of our time at Quail Springs Picnic Area, which is one of the first stops once you get into the park from the West Entrance. If you don’t have a lot of time to spend in the park, make this your stop because you get to stretch your legs while scrambling up the large rock formations. There are pit toilets at the parking lot and several picnic tables with barbecues available for park guests. There is no camping in this area.
There are a handful of bouldering problems in this area and if you can be the crowds of other park guests, you can get some decent warm ups in without having a long approach. Check the local climbing shops for books/guides if you do not have one of your own to bring to the park.
Be careful as you scramble and climb anywhere in the park. This area is popular for families and day trippers because the formations are easy to tackle, but it is still dangerous. This isn’t Disneyland, you can still slip and fall, you can knock boulders loose and send them tumbling down…you get the picture. Please be careful.
Please be careful.
We continued our aimless day with a drive out to Keys View, a wheelchair accessible viewpoint that allows guests to see all the way to Mexico. You will see some of the tallest peaks in Southern California, and the Salton Sea from here, too. This won’t take much time out of your day you are looking to gain some elevation without needing to break out your hiking shoes.
A few stops later, we headed back out of the park to eat at Crossroads Cafe. We ordered the polenta & eggs, a side of macaroni & cheese, and a large side of Ahi tuna. It was all fantastic and worth the short wait. This a great restaurant if you are looking for great options for vegetarians, vegans, and meat eaters.
There are additional shops in the area that are great for window shopping and picking up unique items for your home. You can find cactus shops, antique stores, and interesting boutiques as you drive through town. If you’re there on a weekend, you may also find a farmer’s market or two.
You can find my other posts about Joshua Tree National Park here.