When you hear the words ‘Desert Oasis’ what comes to mind? The first thing that comes to my mind is Palm Springs. The quaint, quiet little desert town nestled in the middle of the Sonoran desert.
It’s a place known for its hot springs, golf courses, and spas. Many Hollywood stars also made it their getaway place and built additional homes in a particular area east of Palm Canyon Drive, calling it “The Movie Colony.” (Source: Wikipedia.com)
The Palm Springs area has been the filming location for numerous films and TV shows but this is not the reason of which it draws my sweetheart and I to frequently visit. It’s a place great for a weekend getaway or simply a perfect one day road trip. We have done both and here are a few of our experiences.
We love the tranquility, the peaceful feel, and the enjoyable hiking trails.
We’ve been lucky enough to live only a short distance from the beautiful desert oasis.
This makes for a perfect one day road trip getaway with usually only a 2 and half hour drive one way.
Hiking: Art Smith Trail
This hiking trail will leave you with feelings of wow and awe as it is rated as difficult and the complete trail distance is 12.2 miles and is 2641 feet high.
However, the first couple miles are a gradual climb and mostly easy trail paths. We hiked about 2 miles the day we explored this trail and enjoyed the quiet, serene landscape, and the scenic views overlooking Palm Springs area.
Art Smith trail is located in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains. There is a visitor center located directly across highway 74, which has a vast array of information and another hiking trail. This is at the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center
Shadow Ridge Golf Club
The Shadow Ridge Golf Club formerly was associated with former PGA Golf Pro Nick Faldo, and is the home of Marriott villas and resort club.
We’ve spent time using the golf practice facility and would hit and chip balls for the entire day for fee of about $20. We’ve also stayed in one of the villas and thought they were quite exceptional.
From a rejuvenating massage to lingering in the pool, this place will have you saying wow. I felt renewed, relaxed, and rejuvenated after the day I spent here.
The grounds at La Quinta Spa are just as enticing as the services! The relaxing patio and lounge area used for those who are awaiting their treatment, or the adult swimming pool area to take a dip and cool down on a steamy afternoon.
Then you can slip into the jacuzzi spa to unwind at your maximum potential to top off your day.
The spa hot tub area.
All the while I am at the spa relaxing and indulging myself, my husband is enjoying a round of golf. Located in LaQuinta, California near Palm Springs, the PGA West by Greg Norman is located a short distance away from the resort and spa. Golf learn more.
Art Galleries in Nature: Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden
This beautiful garden is full of scenic colorful settings together with sculpture art displays. With an easy lighted pathway that leads to various areas where you can sit on a bench and relish the moment, this is a perfect place to appreciate some culture, art and history. Take a look:
Although we are not really what you would call foodies, we do enjoy our favorite dining place. Maracas offers delicious entrees as well as drinks, free chips and salsa, and a very friendly atmosphere. The staff are extremely attentive and friendly! This is where we dine every time we visit Palm Springs area. I do have food sensitivities and Maracas has never caused a problem for me, I do order my food dish without cheese, and the food appears to be fresh and quality.
So if you are in the mood for a weekend getaway or just a one day road trip, depending on where you live; then you should visit Palm Springs area. You might consider an experience to Palm Springs at least once. Directions to Palm Springs
*The comments mentioned within this piece are solely based on my opinion and experiences only.
Joshua Tree National Park is located approximately 140 miles east of Los Angeles and a short distance to neighboring Palm Springs area. This protected land is comprised of vegetated high desert and low desert making up this extraordinary national park.
This park has many interesting and diverse parts that will appeal to any exploring hiker.
Much of this land expands across both the Colorado and Mojave Deserts and is home to a variety of species living in this desert ecosystem. Here are a few of the living residents of this amazing national park:
Prickly pear cactus
and many more.
Our day of exploration at the park was on National Public Lands day so we enjoyed an entry fee free day. The next fee free day at the parks is November 11, Veterans Day. As we continue our journey through this park, we were more amazed the further we went. The beauty, quiet, serene, and peaceful ora of the desert is intoxicating.
We were lucky enough to also spot some big horn sheep and capture them wandering around near the Barker Dam area of the park.
Some of the key points of interest that you may wish to explore on your visit to Joshua Tree National Park are listed here:
⭐️Lost Horse Mine
⭐️Geology Road Tour
⭐️Cholla Cactus Garden
Barker Dam Trail
Check out the hiking trail at Barker Dam: a short, easy pleasant trail to the historical dam. And wow those boulders and rock formations are incredible!
Skull Rock Trail
Camping is also allowed and the sites are located near impressive boulders and lovely trails, this particular site is located at Hidden Valley; this area was where a cattle rustlers hideout was.
Views throughout the park:
Quiet, serene and peaceful surroundings.
Silver Bell Mine
Cholla Cactus Garden
This garden is comprised of jumping cholla, so you do need to be careful and cautious as you stroll this attraction. It is a bit mesmerizing as the endless number of cholla cactus dominate this particular area of the park.
The cholla cactus (jumping cholla) with its barbed spine, are known to attach to skin, fur, and clothing.
The day we tipped toe through this garden, a female in the group in front of us ended up with a cholla spine in her shoe, and it appeared to go all the way through the rubber sole of her shoe.
Another side note; be cautious of bees near and around the cholla cactus garden area.
Here is a bit more information you should know before you visit Joshua Tree National Park:
1.There is no cell phone service in the majority of the park.
2.Stay away from abandoned mines.
3.Carry at least one gallon of water per person per day.
4.Flash floods are a danger; avoid drainage areas during and after thunderstorms
5.Do not climb unless you are properly trained and equipped. (Rock climbing is allowed).
6.Pets are prohibited on the trails and beyond 100 feet from any park road, campground, or picnic area.
7.Off-road driving is prohibited.
Some camping sites are available at a first come, first serve basis; visit www.recreation.gov to learn more. Campgrounds are usually full on the weekends from October through May. Check out the website to plan your next visit.
The desert may not be high on your list of places to see and visit, but Joshua Tree National Park may change your mind. It is incredible how this desert land teaches us about adaption as these animals, plants, and landscapes adapt to the summer 100 plus degree temperatures, relentless sun, and so little water. That is impressive in my book.
Imagine a life where you are surrounded by the most beautiful landscapes, ocean blue waters, and palm trees galore? We might call this California Dreaming as you may think that no such place exists in your world. Well, this is our attempt to bring that world to you.
San Diego is a vacationers dream with so many exciting attractions, amusement parks, the famous San Diego Zoo, and exquisite dining. However, San Diego offers so much more for you other than the average everyday tourist hot spots. Here are a few different things to discover and see less traveled areas in the San Diego area. Enjoy this photo journal series capturing some of San Diego’s hidden treasures that you may wish to explore. Happy Viewing.
Torrey Pines State Reserve: Hiking and Views
Torrey Pines Hiking
Torrey Pines Hiking
Torrey Pines Hiking
Torrey Pines Hiking
This is a peaceful, beautiful trail for visitors to enjoy in a clean, natural environment, and stunning landscapes and views. This is a reserve; according to torreypine.org, a reserve is not a park. This reserve is a targeted area protected for conservation and also has other restrictions different than a park. Read more here:
Torrey Pines State Beach
The beach is at the bottom of 300 foot sandstone cliffs of white and golden stone, with a greenish layer sometimes visible at the very bottom.
La Jolla Cove and Shores are one the most photographed beaches in San Diego County!
It is home to several species of sea life including seagulls, seals, and occasional spottings of Orca killer whales. See more photos of this area here: La Jolla Cove
Sante Fe Hiking Trail: Coast to Crest
Del Dios Gorge Hiking Trail: Coast to Crest
The Sante Fe and Del Dio Gorge Trails are both segments of the San Dieguito River Park area and the Coast to Crest trails. Three pre-historic cultural periods describe parts of this region and portrays a peak at how Native Americans explored through this valley. The Harris Site is noted as one of the most significant archaeological sites on the National Register of Historic Places.
Miramar Air Show: Marine Corp Air Station
The Miramar Air Show was spectacular this year and certainly did not disappoint. This years air show theme was honoring 100 years of women in the Marine Corps. Also feature highlights were some impressive aircraft such as the F-35 Lightening II, F/A -18 Hornet, MV-22 Osprey, AH-1Z Super Cobra/Viper, and of course, the infamous Blue Angels! Miramar Air Show is an annual event usually scheduled for some time in late September or early October.
Petco Park and San Diego Padres
If you visit San Diego, you must experience watching a baseball game at Petco Park with an unbelievable backdrop of the city surrounded by the ocean and spectacular sunsets!
You can watch airplanes arriving for a landing in the distance behind the city buildings as you watch the game.
San Diego is an exquisite city to visit and experience. It’s a vacation and travel destination for millions of people. And yes, there are the popular tourist attractions that visitors love to see but there are also the less traveled amazing spots that will leave you speechless. So when you make your trip to San Diego, be sure to explore one or two of the hidden gems that will make your dream vacation more complete. Thank you for reading! California Dreaming!
More Exploration and Adventure in San Diego!
Coming Soon: California Dreaming Series | Palm Springs
Valley of Fire State Park is located about 55 miles northeast of Las Vegas off of Interstate 15. We passed this sign while on our road trip to Zion National Park in Utah. The sign definitely drew our curiosity and peaked our interest. It is a Nevada State Park, and there are two ways to get to the park. The fiery looking red sandstone cliffs were formed as a result of shifting sand dunes during the dinosaur age. The earth moving, uplifting and erosion has now created this present landscape.
This park happens to be an unexpected detour for us and we consider this a hidden gem and enjoyed exploring this interesting park thoroughly. It was a warm and beautiful day on our return from an adventure in Zion National Park, so this was a great place to top off the end of our weekend road trip. We arrived to the park using the east entrance.
Take a look at some of these interesting and beautiful sandstone rock formations as well as the stories behind them.
This area is named after an outlaw who used this area as a hideout during the 1890s. This area is a natural basin and can hold rain water collections for many months.
On the hiking trail to arrive at Mouse’s Tank, you will find large boulder/rock areas that have prehistoric petroglyphs. The prehistoric wanderers were the Pueblo peoples. Their approximate span of occupation has been dated from 300 BC to 1150 AD.
Seven Sisters area:
Several beautiful rock formations easily seen from the road as you journey through the valley.
Other cool rock formation areas to explore and visit in the park. A must see include:
Arch Rock areas
The Valley of Fire State Park also allows camping at first come first serve. There are two campgrounds and a combined total of 72 units. There are also RV Camping sites as well.
Rock climbing is allowed but is limited to designated areas within the park.
Thank you for reading!
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Summer is one of my favorite times of year, so I wanted to compile a recap of some of the most spectacular #sunsets in places I have had the privilege of visiting. In the last 10 months, I have had the opportunity to go exploring and travel a little more than previous years. We seen places that we’ve only talked about and had a desire to visit, and now finally we have made our dream come true. Although there are many places we have yet to see, these sunsets have made for lasting memories and remarkable experiences we won’t soon forget!
Take a look at these stunning places and sunsets!
Some of the most memorable moments are captured during sunsets, make sure you don’t miss out on your next moment! Hope these inspire you to go out and explore and venture for that perfect view and/or #sunset!
A friend of ours was so gracious and shared her experience of her own coastal road trip with us. She offered information that included some great points of interest to see and visit as we were heading out on our own coastal road trip. She mentioned a few rest stops, beautiful hiking trails, and gorgeous view points for photos. Here is an outline of what she suggested for us.
Guest Blog: By Sam J.
PCH Roadtrip San Diego To Seattle—>10 Things To Know Before You Go
San Diego –> Crescent City
Are you planning a road trip traveling north on Highway 1 up the coast for your next vacation? Here are a few great places to see and explore.
1.Hearst Castle/San Simeon are worth a visit if you have never done it and you have time for one of the tours. I went on the Main House/Pool tour.
2. Make sure to explore around the town of Carmel, Big Sur, and the infamous Pebble Beach.
5 Beautiful Yet Moderate Challenging Hikes to Explore While In Hawaii
Does the excitement of exploring a new place thrill you as much as it does me? Just the thought of seeing new landscapes and unfamiliar nature trails can get those butterflies buzzing around in my stomach! Then if you add the adventures and activities planning; whoa, the excitement plunges through the roof! The place that brings an abundance of excitement to me is visiting Hawaii.
Hawaii is such a magical place and presents a vibe that is like no other. While many people think of Hawaii as a place for charming resorts, sparkling swimming pools, and relaxing patios. Hawaii to me is full of nature, beautiful landscapes and adventure. There are so many hiking trails to explore in Hawaii, that we have yet to scrape the top 10 of them yet. So if you are someone who wants to get more out of your visit to Hawaii and create unique extraordinary memories, then you must explore these wonderful yet moderate challenging hiking trails.
If you are hungry for a scenic yet challenging and adventurous hike while on your visit to Hawaii, then this one will surely put a smile on your face. We started off the day with a little sun and clouds hoping that the rain might stay away for this particular hike. I don’t know about you, but the word Ridge places just a tiny bit of fear in me being this is the first time we’ve hiked this trail.
Ignoring the on-slot of a bit of fear I seemed to develop, we proceeded to gather our water, hats, sunscreen and sunglasses and piled in the car and drove towards East Honolulu area. Actually, the journey to get to the trailhead was quite spectacular by itself as we cruised to higher altitudes through what seemed to be an upscale neighborhood of homes and hills. I noticed as we reached the trail head there was no guard or official person around at this time, so we proceeded to park in the appropriate designated spots. Usually you do need a permit to park in the designated areas to hike this trail.
The clouds started to build up around us making for a possibly muddy, wet, and slippery hiking experience. Early in the hike, we approached a beautiful canopy of trees of all sizes but mostly tall and large. The wind began to swirl and howl making for an eerie stroll through this part of the trail.
As we made our way through the tree tunnels, we encounter some of the challenges and views that this hike presents. The steeper sections of the ridge continue closer and we used the ropes when needed to assist in the climb to the top.
This part of the hiking trail offered a few challenges and obstacles. The rope was very helpful in climbing to the next phase. This trail can be muddy and slippery when it rains, so take it slow and careful and you will gradually make your way to the summit.
The views and beauty of the trail aren’t the only things to be excited about. If you blink you may miss some of the most beautiful plants and flowers that are displayed on this adventure nature trail!
Be sure to take a rest on the ‘Swing’ and tree area, and if you are hiking the trail on a weekday, you may be lucky enough to get a seat on the one lonely bench that sits at the summit of the trail. There are 360 views everywhere up here and they are incredible! Hang on to your hat as the winds can be quite wicked up at the top.
The Aiea Loop trail is located in Aiea – Pearl City area of Honolulu and is an interesting path as you begin at the trailhead located within a park. There are a few scattered picnic tables and the park is quite large in size. The trees are massive and the lemon eucalyptus trees offer a scent of sweet citrus as you ponder further into the trail. There are a few trail road blocks of large tree trunks, and you’ll climb a few steep switchbacks along the loop.
You will catch some views of the freeway H-3 from particular areas on the trail. This trail can also be a little muddy if you experience the hike on a misty or rainy day.
On this trail, I ended up hiking part of it on my own as my husband went on ahead of us, then my in-laws were slowing and I went ahead of them. I was beginning to question if I was going in the right direction at one point and if I might catch up with them or get to the end of the loop. There is an area where one bench sits at peak of a slight climb and elevated area, and I sat there for a moment hoping I wasn’t lost. I finally came to the end of the loop and saw my in-laws trying to approach the friendly cat that hung around the park that day. This hike is considered an easy hike with a few areas of moderate challenge.
This hiking trail was both challenging and rewarding. The trailhead is located near or in the neighborhood of Pacific Palisades. Parking is limited, so you may wish to start this trail early. The trail begins with a smooth wide pathway of red dirt and rocks with plants lining the path.
As you continue further on the trail, it can become muddy and slippery depending if you hike this one on a misty or rainy day. You’ll have to keep an eye out where you walk and step because there are large tree roots everywhere and the elevation can create a slightly dangerous trail.
Going downhill may be easy and you can use the tree roots for stepping, but coming back up can get you huffing and puffing. This part of the trail is known as ‘Cardiac Hill’.
Again, this trail is really not that difficult, but it becomes slightly dangerous if it’s a rainy or misty day and especially when you are descending down towards the beautiful pools and waterfall, it can be very slippery.
This hike presents a wide variety of plants and trees to ponder over as you slither your way carefully down the path over red dirt hillsides, trees, and slippery mud. I lost the soles of my shoes and mud was everywhere. There are a few spots where you use a rope to help you down steeper rocks or hillside parts of the trail. You may encounter a wild pig or hunters with dogs so just be aware and don’t be alarmed. There are plenty of birds to listen to as they sing and fly from tree limb to limb. The hidden gem on this hike is the infamous Waimano Pools and Waterfall.
If you are looking for an easy yet very rewarding and full of nature and very large trees, then this is the hike for you. At times, this hike can also be slippery and muddy depending on rain. The trees are wide, tall, and giants on this very interesting yet enjoyable trail.
Manoa Falls Hike
On the day we hiked this trail, the falls didn’t seem as large as I expected, but it is still a beautiful scene of maze and wonder. If you are someone who wants to get away from large crowds and noise, and have a desire to explore and surround yourself with nature, then you’ll have to check this one out. This hike is considered an easy rated trail.
Koko Head Stairs Trail: 1.8 mile roundtrip. Elevation 990 Directions
The spectacular views will not be the only thing that gets your heart racing during this extraordinary hike up the Koko Head stairs. This climb of approximately 1,050 stairs (or railroad tithes) is a challenge for any exercise enthusiast and will definitely offer a cardio workout like no other. This is rated as difficult.
Koko Head Stairs Hike
Koko Head Stairs Hike
Koko Head Stairs Hike
Koko Head is the eastern side of Maunalua Bay and the southeastern side of the Island of Oʻahu in Hawaiʻi. On its western slope is the community of Portlock, a part of Hawaiʻi Kai. You will enjoy wonderful views of Haunama Bay and beyond. The climb can be grueling and scenic, so its a good idea to take a rest and take in the views.
View from Koko Head
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There is a section where a larger drop to a ridge is located below, so you take your time and go slow if needed.
You may be huffing and puffing half way up the climb, only to learn you have quite a ways to go and are getting higher.
This is a view from below it may be approximately half way up, but it still looks like there are quite a few steps to go to reach the top. You will be huffing and puffing by this point.
There is an no doubt an abundance of excitement and adventurous activities for those thrill seekers visiting Hawaii on travel. But don’t be tempted by those fancy boutique shops, crowds, and lounge bars that bombard you at the tourist beaches. You may want to change your travel strategies to add exploration and hiking to your itinerary. This will no doubt make the most out of your visit to Hawaii and create remarkable memories.
When you travel, do you plan for hiking or exploration to be added into your travel itineraries? If yes, which hiking trails or mountains are your favorites and describe them.
I would love to hear from you, please leave comments or contact me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to read and see more hiking and exploratory adventures from around the U.S., please subscribe and / or follow my blog.