project Joshua Tree


JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK, an escape to the desert.

Less than three hours east of Los Angeles, Joshua Tree National Park is the collision spot of two desert worlds—the higher, slightly wetter Mojave Desert and the hotter low desert, the Colorado.

If you are looking for a respite from the hubbub of the city and a chance to canoodle with nature, the park is perfect for a camp trip.  

And it’s not just about the destination, getting to Joshua Tree takes you past a potpourri of kooky roadside attractions.

There are plenty of things in and around the park that beg for a multi-day stay. But, if what you want is a quick getaway, a one night stay in Joshua Tree is bliss. That’s how we did it. All you need are some blankets, a flashlight, a tent and/or the trunk of a car.

Getting to Joshua Tree…

Head out by 10AM to give yourself time for pit stops along the way and still get to Joshua Tree before it’s too late in the day.

If you are leaving from Los Angeles, you’ll be taking the 1-10, and you will hit traffic. No getting around that. Make yourself a playlist, roll down the widows, marinate.



50770 Seminole Dr, Cabazon, CA 92230

The “World’s Biggest Dinosaur” is named Dinny, and his abdomen houses a creationist museum.

Just off the I-10 is an outdoor dinosaur museum that features a 150-foot-long recreation of an apatosaurus, named Dinny (think Little Foot all grown up), and a 65-foot-tall Tyrannosaurus, named Mr. Rex.  

The dinosaurs were created in the 1960s by Claude Bell, a theme park artist and sand sculptor, who erected them to attract roadside customers to his business, The Wheel Inn Cafe, and to create a piece of lasting art.  

Following Bell’s death in 1988, the land was sold to a developer who, with the help of fundamentalist Christian groups, turned the site into a creationist museum.

…..Somehow, the whole creationist aspect managed to escape our attention. There are several Bible passages posted on the walls of the gift shop that we thought were peculiar and then thought nothing else about it. It wasn’t until researching the roadside attraction later that we discovered the truth.

Religious associations aside, the Cabazon Dinosaurs are a premium piece of wacky roadside Americana. They’ve been featured in commercials, music videos, and the 1985 film Pee- Wee’s Big Adventure.

Note: Play the theme song to Jurassic Park, as you walk through the pathways. The insides of Mr. Rex have a special surprise.


50770 Seminole Dr, Cabazon, CA 92230


Monday - Friday: 10AM-6PM
Saturday/Sunday: 9AM-7PM



Adults            $10
Children            $9
Military w/ ID        $7
Senior Citizens        $7
2 and under        FREE




56200 Sunnyslope Drive, Yucca Valley, CA 92284

Desert Christ Park began on Easter Sunday in 1951. On a barren hillside in the Yucca Valley, the park’s inaugural sculpture was a 10-foot, 5-ton plaster and steel reinforced statue of Jesus Christ.

The statue was built by Frank Anton Martin, a sculptor and poet from Inglewood, California. He built the sculpture with the hope that it would be displayed on the rim of the Grand Canyon, as a symbol of peace during the Cold War, but his petitions were rejected. After reviewing several alternative homes for his “unwanted Christ,” he decided on the Yucca Valley site.

The property that houses Desert Christ Park was owned at the time by Reverend Eddie Garver, known to locals as the Desert Parson. He and Martin formed a bond, and Martin eventually relocated to the Yucca Valley, where he created over 40 more snow-white concrete sculptures.

Since 1971, the park has fallen into disrepair. It suffered from an earthquake in the 1990’s that left many of the biblical figures face and limb-less. That, in conjunction with underfunding, gives the park a hollow, eerie feel. But one that is also peaceful— up there in the quiet, secluded desert, you are surrounded by over-sized Christs whose constitutions have been humbled by the elements and time.

Note: Don’t miss the Rock Chapel, for which we found no historical information, but which is beautiful all the same.  

56200 Sunnyslope Drive, Yucca Valley, CA 92284  



7 days per week, while it’s light out.


STOP THREE: your overnight spot.





The Joshua Tree, so legend goes, got its name in the mid-19th century from a group of Mormon settlers who thought the limbs of the tree resembled the biblical figure Joshua, raising his arms to the heavens and guiding travelers westward.


Today, most people say the tree looks like it belongs in a Dr. Seuss book. It's got catawampus branches and spiky, playful pompom foliage. If you see one in the evening, when the sky is dark and the moon is bright, it looks like the tree crept out of a Dr. Seuss book and into Van Gough’s Starry Night.


There are all manner of camping options in Joshua Tree. The National Park websites gives a thorough overview


We opted to stay at White Tank, a campsite surrounded by rock formations that are perfect for climbing and gallivanting. There are 15 campsites at White Tank, and it is first-come, first-serve, so there’s no guarantee you will find an open spot. We snagged the last one the day we went.


Once you find your spot, you will have to officially reserve it. You do this by recording your car information on a sheet of paper provided by the park and depositing it, along with the campsite fee, into a box. You’ll then tac the number of nights you will be staying to the numbered post of your campsite.


All campsites have a place to park your car, a fire pit, picnic table and charcoal grill. The toilets at White Tank are pit toilets. If you are looking for a site with running water and flush toilets, there are a few options. Refer to the National Park website for more information.


Note: Even in the summer, it can get very cold in Joshua Tree at night. Bring layers. Most campsite do not have water, remember to bring water.


If you are a novice fire-builder, but still want to pay homage to your caveman ancestors, here’s a fire building tip, from Marine Corps Mike, who popped over with his dog to help get our fire going: Pick up some lighter cubes from Home Depot. Light wood helps get your fire going. Dense wood helps keep it going. Stack the wood up like a tipi and leave room for air to get in.



Entry into the park costs $20/ vehicle.

A year pass to the park costs $30.

Campsite fees vary by location. Most are between $10 and $20.





On your next morning in Joshua Tree, before heading home, you must see



Blair Ln, Joshua Tree, CA 92252


How to describe this place….


Noah Purifoy is recognized as what may be the least well-known pivotal American artist of the last 50 years. An assemblage sculptor, he spent the end years of his life in Joshua Tree, California. From 1989 until his death in 2004, he filled ten acres of high desert—his studio—with all manner of installations.


Works of his are in the permanent collection of several museums—Whitney Museum of American Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC—but it’s hard to imagine any of those can touch the magnificence of what you experience, surrounded by his work, out in the desert.



Blair Ln, Joshua Tree, CA 92252



Whenever you find yourself there.



FREE, but put a few dollars and a lot of dollars in the donation box.







100 Citadel Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90040


Shake off the dust of the desert and feed your materialistic side with some discounted brandname clothes. You’ll be back in LA traffic, before you know it.

Abby stargazing at White Tank Campground in Joshua Tree