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  • Desert Art Guide

7 Desert Day Trips

Palm Springs is a beautiful desert city in California full of golf courses, stylish hotels, spas, and boutiques. If you love gorgeous architecture and relaxing by the poolside, it’s a great place to spend some time. There are also plenty of options for those who love active travel, getting out into nature and exploring. Below are several desert day trips that are sure to fulfill your need for adventure.

1. Joshua Tree

The serene desert that surrounds Joshua Tree National Park is just an hour’s drive from Palm Springs and a place worth visiting. The national park is the shining jewel of the Mojave Desert and earned its name from the Joshua trees that are scattered around the park. In addition to the picture-worthy Joshua Trees, the National Park is known for its various trails and hikes that take you to different regions of the park. Enjoy the beauty of Joshua Tree on the Hidden Nature Valley Trail, a short 1-mile loop that takes you through the exotic fauna and flora dotted around the park.

2. Salton Sea

Salton Sea may not be as glamorous as Palm Springs, but the coastal town has a charm and allure of its own. It was once the center for entertainment and now remains a ghost town. Salton Sea is the perfect day trip from Palm Springs if you are looking for a unique experience. Make sure to stop by Bombay Beach to explore graffiti, illustrations, and unique works of art. The Sole Tree and Salvation Mountain are also popular tourist attractions. If you’re ever wondered what a ghost town looks like, take a day trip to Salton Sea to find out.

3. Pioneertown

Pioneertown was built as a movie set, and is super fun to stroll if you love cowboy movies! In Pioneertown, walk around and take in the buildings built for the movies. Numerous movies have been filmed here in the last several decades. Many of the structures in town are functioning businesses, and if you visit when the town is open, you will find a lively scene, with shops, restaurants, and saloons.

4. Whitewater Preserve

The beautiful Whitewater Preserve, surrounded by the San Gorgonio Wilderness, is a must visit for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The preserve had a rich birding and wildlife viewing area including woodlands, canyons, and dunes. Hiking is the main attraction in the preserve. The Pacific Crest Trail, which runs between Canada and Mexico, passes through the preserve. The Canyon View Loop Trail is very scenic, and crosses the Whitewater River at one point. Guided hikes are offered, so check prior to your visit.

5. Idyllwild

Idyllwild has a small mountain-town ambiance and is set among tall pine trees. It is surrounded by stunning rocky mountains and has a downtown area filled with cute locally-owned stores. Unlike some of the more popular mountain towns found further north, you won't see any big chain-store outlets or grocery stores at Idyllwild. Idyllwild's scenery is somewhat reminiscent of Yosemite and is the perfect place to spend a relaxing day.

6. Amboy Crater

Amboy Crater is nestled halfway between Barstow and Needles, just off historic Route 66. It is located near, but not within, Mojave National Preserve. A visit to Amboy Crater will definitely take you back in time. Ten thousand years ago, this cinder cone volcano erupted, transforming the surrounding landscape. A 3-mile round trip trail leads up and into the crater, connecting to a path around the rim that provides startling views .From the parking lot, the trail starts out wide, before narrowing down to a single track. The trail crosses the desert floor, which in the spring time is covered with wild flowers.

7. Anza Borrego State Park

This beautiful state park offers hundreds of miles of dirt roads, and many hiking trails, offering incredible views of the California desert. The park is California's largest park, and popular with the locals. Wildlife lovers will have a chance to see roadrunners, golden eagles, kit foxes, mule deer, and bighorn sheep in this incredible landscape. You'll also have the chance to see many varieties of wildflowers. With 76 different trails to explore, you will want to make sure to plan your trip before you leave.

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