Palm Desert is a one-hour drive from Joshua Tree National Park. I first heard of the place when U2 released the Joshua Tree album in the 1980s. The local tourist guides all recommended a visit, so we popped into our hybrid and set off, with plenty of water.
Past Yucca Valley, the road started to climb. Joshua Tree Town was the last bit of civilisation before the national park, so we stopped for supplies. There was nothing notable about the place, but I will always remember the food labelling in the general store stating “Maximum Awesomeness”. We hit a park kiosk, paid our admission, and entered.
After exploring one bit of the Mojave Desert on foot, we came to the conclusion that there are a lot of Joshua Trees there. We also concluded that deserts can be bloody cold — something they don’t tell you in the cowboy movies. I was very glad I’d brought a coat as well as the water.
There were also a lot of strange rock formations on the plateau — seeming dropped in large random piles throughout the national park. They looked like giant sandy pummice stones. But, other than that, the area was quite flat, and you could see a long way.
We pressed on to the southernmost part of the plateau, where the ground fell away into the Coachella Valley, and parked up at a viewing point. We were greeted by an amazing view, across the valley, the San Andreas Fault, and towards the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto mountains.
If the view wasn’t breathtaking enough, the wind certainly was. Five minutes in the icy blast was enough, and we were sprinting back to the car for warmth. This had been a great experience with which to finish our Californian road trip.