Palm Springs and Joshua Tree NP Feb 2022
First time caller, long time listener to Joshua Tree. Even having travelled to Palm Springs previously, I had missed out on all the nature and outdoorsy adventures this part of California had to offer. Never again! How convenient that it only took an hour from the amazing desert oasis of fun that is Palm Springs, to be immersed in the complete wilderness and mystical beauty that is Joshua Tree. It was unfortunately a quick trip, but one that we had to push to 2022 from 2021 due to Covid, so we were really excited to finally get in the sun and enjoy desert life!
Friday morning: Flew into PSP- which I gotta say, versus flying into LAX and making the drive, is the move. Once we landed it only took us 10 mins to drive to the strip/Uptown Palm Springs to check into our Airbnb/Hotel The Twist. This place had an amazing location- just a few minutes walk to the heart of the strip downtown where all the bars/restaurants and shops are. The Twist had a really cool retro vibe, and even though we booked it on Airbnb it had the amenities of a hotel - maid service daily, free bikes, outdoor patio space and several restaurants and a coffee shop all in the same complex. The unit itself was a really large studio set up, with a king bed, sofa area, small dining table, patio and a full kitchen. Really an ideal set up. We first checked out the strip and bought some groceries, grabbed a slice of pizza at Billy's (nothing amazing but was good for a slice at the time), iced coffee at the coffee shop next to the Twist, then relaxed at the Twist's pool which I absolutely loved. The weather in February is really pretty perfect- it was hot during the day (80 degrees) but cooled down at night to the 60s- still pleasant. Because of the large mountain bordering town, the sun would basically set around 4:30pm, with another of hour of dusk to go, but the temperature would drop about 10 degrees pretty quick. However the Twist was prepared, keeping their pool heated and hot tub going. For our first night in town we booked Del Rey at Villa Royale- a tapas restaurant located on the complete other side of town. However we did make the hour walk there, and took an uber back to the Twist after a few cocktails. The walk itself wasn't the best- once past the strip it got a little sketchy, so just uber to this spot- it's worth going out of your way for. The food was fantastic and the drinks were really really good. The restaurant itself was in the hotel, next to the pool- so they offered both indoor and outdoor seating. The bar area inside was very dimly lit, had a really cool vibe to it. The Villa Royale itself seemed like a very ritzy boutique hotel, just a bit of a hike to the action. So an option depending on what you are looking for when trying to book lodging in PS!
Saturday: Joshua Tree Day! Being on east coast time, we woke up bright and early to make breakfast in the room, then drove out to the park. We arrived around 8am, there was a short car line getting into the park, but we were in in no time and our first stop was Ryan Mountain Trail. A very popular hike in the park, it took us 1 hr 15mins to do the 3mile hike out and back up the mountain. From there we drove another 10mins into the park to the Jumbo Rocks/Skull rock trailhead- and wandered around for about a half hour checking out the cool rock formations. From there we drove back a ways, and tackled part of the Boy Scout trail, which starts at the Keys West trailhead. It splits about 1.25mi in, and we went the Willow Hole direction. However, either way it looked like a similar trail- sandy and exposed amongst the Joshua trees. We walked about 4.5 miles, took us 1.5 hours- however we could have kept going but at that point we got the gist. After this hike we headed back to Palm Springs, and grabbed some lunch outdoors at the Chicken Ranch on the strip. This place was poppin, had to wait about 15mins for a table- but a great lunch option with roasted chicken and sides like yams, veggies, etc. From there we earned our relaxation time at the Twist's pool, and then it was dinner time. I had made reservations at this place Tac/Quila on the strip- they don't take online reservations, you have to call, and I was able to get us in for 7pm at a half indoor/half outdoor table in the best spot for people watching. This place as so freaking good. The food was amazing, the drinks were ridiculously good, this was by far my favorite spot of the trip. Call ahead and get your reservation you will not regret it.
Sunday: We tried a local hike to start off the day. All these huge mountains surround Palm Springs, we wondered, are we able to hike them? The answer is yes, any many people do! We originally were going to do the Palm Springs tram which takes you 8000ft in elevation to the very top of the mountains, however the weather was 38 degrees at the top, alot of the tickets were sold out, there was a high wind warning, and were had not packed for that situation, so we will save it for next time. Instead we decided to try the North Lykken trail. We walked 20mins from our hotel to the trailhead by the art museum. It was straight up for the first mile, and when we reached the top of the trail by the picnic tables, we made a right and headed a different way down. The whole thing took us 1 hr 30mins, and gave us great views of all of Palm Springs below. We still had some energy after the hike, so we took advantage of the free cruiser bikes at the Twist and went for a 10mile very flat bike ride along some paths through the city. Not the most scenic ride, if I were to recommend bike riding I'd say you are better off just biking through the neighborhoods and checking out the unique housing architecture. After our ride we waited 30mins to get into one of PS's top brunch spots- Cheeky's. Sunday brunch around 1pm- the wait was totally expected. Cheeky's had really good food- I recommend the coffee cake, sweet potato fries and bacon flight, however their mimosas were a little disappointing, so I only had the one. One last pool sesh, some last minute shopping on the strip, and we headed to our last dinner at 1501 Gastropub, which was a 15min walk from the Twist. Really cool spot, great margaritas, however the service was terrible. Tis the season but it made the night kind of annoying- and the food was good, just not good enough to make up for the weird service. Regardless, we had such a great quick trip away. Palm Springs is such a vibe, and Joshua tree is also such a vibe, I love this weird desert getaway!