For my birthday this year, I really wanted to do something fun, but there were definitely limited options. We obviously couldn’t throw any sort of party or get together with friends, and a trip like last year to Cartagena was definitely out of the question, so we decided on a last minute trip to Joshua Tree.
It’s close (only 2.5 hours from Los Angeles) and we’d be spending most of the time outside (a safe choice), AND I found the cutest Airbnb (more on that later in this post).
We’ve been to Joshua Tree once before; we found a yurt through airbnb (so fun) and did some hiking – it was awesome. We wanted to do the whole glamping thing again, but try out some new trails and destinations within the park.
Here’s what our weekend looked like:
10:00am We headed out (not too early) and made a quick stop at our favorite coffee/tea shop (Alfred) before hitting road.
12:30pm Arrived in Joshua Tree and made another coffee/tea stop, this time at Joshua Tree Coffee Company.
1:30pm Arch Rock Trail // This might be one of my favorite trails in the park that I’ve done. The rock formations throughout Joshua Tree are so cool, and this specific area had A LOT to offer with Arch Rock obviously being the star. We weren’t looking to do any super strenuous hikes during this trip, so this was perfect – a very flat and easy trail with a nice payoff. We probably spent a good hour or so here just exploring. Here’s the details for your visit:
Enter via the North Entrance Station in Twentynine Palms. From there it’s about 10 minutes to the Arch Rock Trail Parking Area. The trail is a 1.2 mile lollipop loop, and Arch Rock is just off the trail while you’re making your way around the “loop.” You can barely see the rock formation from the trail, so keep an eye out for the small sign. From there you’ll have to do some easy scrambling to see Arch Rock and snap some fun photos. If you wander a little more off the trail in this area, you’ll find tons of amazing rock formations and narrow passages to explore.
3:00pm Skull Rock // We planned to check out Skull Rock and one of the nature trails nearby, but just as we were getting into our car at the Arch Rock parking lot, it started to drizzle. Since Skull Rock is literally on the side of the road AND we had to pass it to leave the park, we decided to at least drive over and check it out. As soon as we parked, it actually started to SNOW! Only a little but it was still crazy to see! (You can see some of the flakes captured in the photo below.) We quickly ran across the road to get a better look at Skull Rock, and then ultimately decided to head to our Airbnb before the weather got worse (the sky was looking a little ominous in the distance).
4:00pm Check into our Airbnb // We left the park and headed to our Airbnb for a night of *glamping* – which I was so excited about. We quickly grilled our food before the rain really started to come down and enjoyed dinner in the tent, listening to the rain fall outside. We played a few card games, made s’mores at the fire pit (during a short break in the rain), and went to bed early, and honestly – it was so relaxing and perfect. I think we slept like 14 hours?! Seriously one of the best nights sleep though. It was in the 30s outside, but the heater in the tent + TONS of blankets kept us SO warm. And is there anything better than falling asleep to the sound of rain?
8:30am Rise & Shine // It rained pretty much the entire night/early morning which meant no stargazing and no pretty sunrise, BUT when we did wake up, the sun was shining and the mountains in the distance were COVERED in snow. It was beautiful.
11:00am Keys View // After a slow morning, we left the Airbnb and headed back into Joshua Tree National Park. The park entrance was only about 10 minutes from our campsite, but the the entire park was a winter wonderland. Seeing the Joshua trees and rock formations covered in several inches of snow was magical.
We drove about 40 minutes into the park and up to Keys View, stopping a few times to play in the snow. When we made it the viewpoint, there wasn’t as much snow, but because of the rain, we had some spectacular views. Pictures don’t do it justice, but we could see Palm Springs, the San Andreas Fault, Mount Jacinto and Mount San Gorgonia, the Salton Sea, and even Mount Signal in Mexico – which is about 90 miles away and extremely rare to see!
1:00pm Head home.
JOSHUA TREE TENTS
I wanted to give a little more detail about the Airbnb – because it was so cool, and I’d highly recommend staying there if you plan a visit to Joshua Tree.
There are 5 tents on the property and 2 full bathrooms/showers with hot/cold water. The tents fit 2 people and come fully equipped with pillows, blankets, and a bed or bed(s) depending on which tent you choose. (Ours was 2 twin beds, but we just pushed them together to make 1 bed.) There’s a small kitchen set up in the tent as well that includes a mini fridge, microwave, coffee maker, and basic kitchen supplies (plates, cups, utensils, etc.). And of course there was a small lamp, phone charging area, and heater! At the outdoor common area you’ll find the bathrooms (which were SO clean), an outdoor kitchen area with a grill, dining and lounge area, fire pit, and pool. Because of COVID and the weather, we didn’t really hang out in the common area, but I’d love to go back when it’s warmer and take advantage of the pool!
There’s even more amenities than I listed here – you can check them all out plus more photos in the listing if you decide to book.
If you do plan to visit Joshua Tree during the winter, come prepared! Even if it doesn’t snow, it can still get very cold and windy – especially at night! Another tip – buy your entrance ticket online in advance. For even more tips, hikes, and things to do, check out my previous Joshua Tree Travel Guide.
All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday weekend – it was so peaceful and relaxing. Do I sound like an old person now?