Desert RV Trip – Joshua Tree and Palm Springs (79)

We spent a month traveling to Arizona and back from the San Francisco Bay Area, and along the way, we enjoyed Palm Springs and Joshua Tree, visited family in the Phoenix area, and toured Sedona and the Grand Canyon!

In this post, I’ll share the Palm Springs and Joshua Tree leg of the trip.

We loved how each destination was so different from the Bay Area, and were also so different from each other. Consequently, we have quite a few photos to share, but I have culled them back to the essential few. Really!

We drove to Bakersfield the first night, and even though it was just a layover, we enjoyed it! Did you know Buck Owens was from here? If we had more time we would have taken in a dinner show at the Crystal Palace. As it was, we went to Firestone Grill for dinner and Dewars Candy Shop for dessert and bought their great peanut butter chews for the road.


The next day we headed out early for Palm Springs. On the drive, we noticed considerable snow still on San Jacinto Peak, and decided we’d take the tram to the top on this visit.

We stayed between Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park at the aptly named Palm Springs/Joshua Tree KOA. It was away from everything, but it was clean and the sites were large, with oleander bushes between the spaces. The pool and hot tubs are fed by a natural hot spring that keeps them warm all year.

The next day we visited Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is hard to describe. When we were there we felt a little like we were on a different planet, or in a Dr. Suess book because of the rock formations and the Joshua Tree itself.


The place is full of natural beauty and I think God had fun creating it. Just look at these and see if you agree.



They say the tree was given the name by a group of Mormon settlers who crossed the Mojave Desert in the mid-1800’s, because it reminded them of biblical Joshua. They do seem like they are reaching towards the sky.


The rock formations were also amazing.


Do you see a polar bear in this one? We did, but maybe the sun got to us! πŸ™‚



We were lucky to be there when the trees were in bloom.




Joshua Tree National Park is divided into two separate deserts — the Mohave, where the Joshua Tree thrives, and the Colorado, where the Cholla cactus thrives. both are shown in the photo below.


In this particular Cholla cactus, we witnessed the drama of nature in the desert, which Debbie fortunately caught on camera. This amazing bird, a Cactus Wren, had captured a scorpion for its babies who were in a nest inside the cactus.


That’s right! Standing on a cactus! Eating a scorpion! That is one mean bird! I am impressed!


We were also treated to tons of wildflowers! The desert was blooming in places and we loved the variety and color.


Palm Springs

The next day we visited Palm Springs and San Jacinto Peak.

Our first stop in the morning was the tram to San Jacinto Peak. It was a quick ride going up…


and up…


And the view was spectacular!


We loved the crisp air and the snow on the ground. What a difference from the valley below! If you go, take layers and also snacks as the prices are also sky high at the top of the mountain. πŸ™‚ From the top you can go for a hike or eat at the restaurant or bar.


I’m sure there are a lot of hair-raising stories in this pile of broken sleds…


After enjoying the view we had lunch in Palm Springs. There are a great variety of places to eat, and it was fun to walk through town.


We finished the day at the Shields date farm enjoying a delicious date shake. We were warned that they are VERY sweet, but VERY good, and Shields have been doing this for almost a century!





One of the joys of “retirement” is being able to plan longer adventures like this, and this is just the first leg of our RV trip. I actually hate using the work retirement, because it just applies to my career at the Lab. We are very much engaged in life, including our community, church, and RVing about the country.

Our next stop is Arizona!

Al & Deb

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