Aliens and Hippies
Paradise for the Strange and Exotic
What do vegan hippies, elite athletes, marines in training, and astral travelers have in common? A home in Yucca Valley, of course, next to one of America’s most beloved national parks! Between the appeal of Joshua Tree National Park, the surrounding village, the high-desert movie backlot of Pioneertown and the strange and stunning architecture and artwork nearby, you’ll find plenty to do on a day trip to this magical place.
The namesake Joshua trees make an immediate impression, with their spindly branches and tough, cactus-like leaves, creating the impression you’ve stepped into the world of Dr. Seuss. In the park, these trees surround giant clusters of boulders, placed perfectly atop each other with the precision and mystery of Stonehenge.
Take a lesson with Joshua Tree Rock Climbing School to learn how to scale the face of these rocks, or simply scramble up their stair-step edges, and navigate the caves inside them. Take a field class or nature hike to learn more about the unusual formations, glowing cacti and mythic stick-figure trees in the park.
Outside the park, grab a healthy vegetarian lunch, granola, and smoothie at Natural Sisters Cafe or a country-casual burger at the Joshua Tree Saloon before perusing the weekly farmer’s market and craft fair outside. Discover the craftiness of some unique desert-dwellers at the World Famous Crochet Museum (it’s just what it sounds like) or the Outdoor Desert Art Museum, a 10-acre sculpture garden made from recycled trash. Then, see what’s happening at the artist retreat center the Lou Harrison House, or visit a Frank Lloyd Wright property known as the Institute of Mentalphysics for a fascinating journey of discovery inside your own mind.
Take a beat off the Twentynine Palms Highway Trail and head up to Pioneertown, a small village created as a wild west Hollywood backlot in the 1950s for Gene Autry. Most of the buildings on the street are merely false fronts, but one intrepid dream catcher artist, a leather worker and a few lonely desert rats have populated the real streets surrounding this faux-town. And right next to the Pioneertown Motel, honky-tonk roadhouse Pappy + Harriet’s serves classic barbecue and nightly live music that will knock your socks off.
At a Stone’s Throw
Head a little bit further for a surreal adventure in the town of Landers at the Integratron, a giant desert igloo built on an “energy vortex” by a fusion of art, science and magic, according to its German architect designer. The unusual retreat center hosts musicians, sound baths, astronomers, meditation retreats and intrepid explorers looking for the keys to the universe and the wisdom of Nikola Tesla. You can also visit a giant, seven-story boulder nearby, where you might just find yourself joining a UFO conference.
So what are you waiting for? Joshua Tree’s north entrance is just under an hour from Sky Valley and Caliente Springs; the south entrance is just over an hour from Arizona Oasis. Whatever you discover in Joshua Tree, you’ll find this unconventional desert lush with creative energy and experience.
Activities & Local Destinations
Access the outdoor entertainment and activities in the greater Blythe and Ehrenberg areas.
Feel the health benefits of natural mineral pools fed by natural hot springs just under the surface.
Access unique entertainment and activities in the Palm Springs and Southern California areas.