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Trail to Tavern: Joshua Tree Edition

Posted on July 28 2016

By Christine Stahr --

Trail to Tavern Adventures: Joshua Tree Edition

Best Joshua Tree National Park Adventure Blog

The landscape slowly shifted as the sun was setting and the horizons seemed to transform right before our eyes. The buzzing sounds and hustling city lights slowly melted away into vast emptiness as we were on our way to the desert. 

Joshua Tree is a magical place tucked away about 120 miles from Los Angeles. Granted, as all things in LA, the amount of time it takes to escape is solely dependent on traffic. Even if you are not a Los Angeles native, this truly unique National Park is one worth traveling for. A refugee for climbers, star gazers, and rock lovers to marvel at with their hiking shoes ready; I can honestly say this place will blow your mind. 

Best California and Joshua Tree Adventure Blog

A little about Josh. 

It is as if a giant came in and stomped his way through the sandy monochromatic terrain. Taking huge rocks in his mouth, gobbling them up and spitting them back out into ginormous stacks of building blocks, ready to topple over.

If you are like me, your curiosity runs as rampant as a 5 year old, you might be asking why is this region so totally trippy?! Well visit our National Park website for a Quick geography lesson 101. Basically the Earth is a crazy, ever changing, and ancient place full of moving plates, molten lava, and dried up rivers. 

So, get your climbing gear and crash pad ready. There is something for everyone, whether you prefer to scramble, boulder, or go for the ropes. If you choose to keep your two feet on the ground, multiple hiking trails will take you to vista views looking over Palm Springs, back in time with old mills and ranch structures from the wild west, or gardens of cactus with the unmistakable Joshua Tree saluting you along the way.

Partner all the outdoor activities with a quirky little artist town; full of good eats, cold drinks, and a totally rad swap meet and you have got the perfect trail to tavern adventure. 

Needless to say, our Cedar Ravine adventure was full of little surprises, challenges, and moments of complete bliss. Stephanie and I got the heck out of dodge on Saturday evening from Los Angeles. By the time we hit the open road of the desert the wind had picked up, pushing us to our destination. Beautiful windmills were silhouetted against the canyons. It was a shame not to get lost. Taking an exit, we were practically swept away in a windstorm, where we meandered throughout the valley. The sun was rapidly setting and with the last little bit of light we practically flew the rest of the way to the entrance of the national park. 

Best Sunset Joshua Tree Adventure Photography

Unfortunately, you cannot reserve a space at most campgrounds in the park. They operate on a first come first serve basis, and they are literal turf wars. You are urged to show up sooner rather than later, in peak season even the private lots fill up. Pile on top of that, two festivals going on that weekend (music and yoga) and we knew we were out of luck. Side note, if you sleep in your car in an undesignated spot you are fined $250.00. Better getting a hotel. 

However, where there's a will there's a way. And one thing Stephanie and I have is a lot of optimism. We had a tent, two pretty smiles, whiskey, and warm hearts to offer. We found a group to share their space and we set up camp for the night. Although this can be tricky to navigate it wasn’t my first time crashing a site. Over a crackling fire, we met two rad fellow explorers, sharing stories of our lives, loved ones, and future adventures. 

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As I excused myself to my tent, I paid homage to the constellations shining brightly overhead. While the lingering smell of campfire took refuge in my hair, every bit of me felt alive. I drifted to sleep ready for sunrise and eager for the next day. 

Sunrise in the desert is cold and beautiful. The Joshua Trees seemed greener than ever backlit by rose hues. The day commenced with french pressed coffee, a little rock exploration, and the spontaneous decision to venture into town. That is one pro with car camping. You can bring everything, but the kitchen sink. And if you get a wild hair to explore off site, it is only a hop, skip and jump away.

What to do in Joshua Tree National Park

No excursion to Joshua tree is complete without an outing to the town. A cold drink was in order at the saloon. Pool tables, cool air, delicious grub, and of course beer on draft. This tavern experience has the just right amount of dive. 


Cedar Ravine Trail to Tavern Joshua Tree Adventure

We also decided to get lost at the local swap meet. Native vendors offered hidden treasures throughout this outdoor market. A couple interesting and well worn books, a vintage suit case, and some crystals decided to come home with us. Sunday was quiet and an eeriness settled among the 10 acres of past memorabilia. 

Best Things to do in Joshua Tree with Cedar Ravine

“Surrender. I expected nothing, but to obey my intuition with the understanding if I didn’t; I would regret it all my life. By obeying I have no regrets.”

-Bob Carr

Best Joshua Tree Adventures in California

The real find here was the Crystal Cave. Bob Carr, creator of the Sky Valley Swap Meet, has spent his life building a cave of precious gems on the property. Koi ponds intertwined with the shrine accompanied by a place to sit and a soak in the energy of the rocks. A small little door, a few little steps down and you all of a sudden are surrounded by a man’s passions, brightly colored stones, and nothing you have ever seen before. We got to meet the creator himself. Through his yellow tinted glasses and mischievous smile he shared with me some words that sat in my mind for quite some time. I asked him what inspired this creation and this is what he shared:

“You. The people. I love my fellow human beings. We are children, we screw up; it is utter beauty. I am fortunate enough to learn to surrender to that a long time ago. With no expectation, except to obey antics. Deciding the good, the bad, the right, and the wrong in each situation. Surrender. I expected nothing, except to obey my intuition with the understanding if I didn’t I would regret it all my life. By obeying I have no regrets.” Best Things to do in Joshua Tree National Park

It made me think. What is my gut telling me and am I listening? And more importantly am I brave enough to obey it?

Steph and I were able to hightail it back to the site for a dinner over a campfire and a sunset gazing session. 

The next day we devoted solely to exploring the park. That meant lots of trails, new friends made while bouldering (and testing out our USA-made chalk bag design), a nap that led to us being woken up by a rattlesnake, aiding a desert tortoise cross the road (learn more the right way to do that here! These are endangered animals and need to be handled with care), and wrapped up the evening with a skate session down sunset drenched streets. Needless to say we had a good time. 

Cedar Ravine Best Joshua Tree Camping and Adventures

The next morning we packed up our belongings, being careful to leave it better than we found it. (You can read more about “leave no trace” and best camping practices here!)

After two nights in Joshua Tree, we were dashing off to a studio photo shoot back in Los Angeles for our new products. We paid our respects, thanked the desert for her vast beauty, said farewell to our new friends and hit the road. As we cruised back into the city I could hear my gut loud and clear, it was ready for another adventure. 

Ready for the next Cedar Ravine trail to tavern adventure? Follow along next post from our trip to the Channel Islands! 

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