All Stories from Deserts

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    Tachevah Canyon

    Grand is great and all, but little canyons can make big impressions too. Take Tachevah Canyon’s rim-to-rim hike in the San Jacinto mountain range. This 4.7-mile (round-trip) out-and-back hike features some dynamic desert landscape.

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    Split Decision

    Joshua Tree is famous for its namesake trees but it's also got some big-ass boulders! We're talking size-of-a-building boulders. See them on an off-the-beaten-path hike along the Split Rock Trail.

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    Trio of Trails

    Get into Joshua Tree National Park Park early and hit the classic circuit of short trails before the crowds arrive. We also have some food and overnight recos.

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    Find Your Oasis

    Don’t let the name fool you. Death Valley has a completely new lodging experience that’s all about being alive! Here are five amazing ways to find your oasis in the Lower 48’s largest national park.

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    Joshua Tree's Secret Aerie

    You won’t find Eagle Cliff Mine on the official Joshua Tree National Park map—which is part of the appeal of this challenging 4.6-mile (round-trip) out-and-back trek.

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    Ultimate Oasis

    Water is life in the desert, and nowhere does the desert come to life more dramatically than in Palm Canyon in the Agua Caliente Reservation’s Indian Canyons. Here a walk on the 2.9-mile Victor Loop takes you through the world’s largest California fan palm oasis in the heart of a…

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    49 Palms and Counting

    The hike to 49 Palms Oasis in Joshua Tree has pleasures great and small. Big: a genuine palm oasis and expansive views. Small: the possibility of spotting a desert tortoise or a chuckwalla lizard. It’s all in the course of a 3-mile out-and-back gem that is situated between Indian…

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    When Disney met the Petroglyph: It's Complicated

    An unlikely desert lake is generally the high point of a hike to Barker Dam, but there’s an even more unusual sight at the end of the loop trail that you might have missed even if you’ve hiked it a few times. We’re talking petroglyphs—but there’s more to this story. The flat,…

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    Hi, View!

    Pop quiz: Closest Joshua Tree trail to the LA metro area? It’s Hi-View Nature Trail near Yucca Valley’s Black Rock entrance to the national park. Overlooked, but worth looking over. This 1.3-mile loop doesn’t require an entry fee, gains 325 feet in elevation, and offers a fresh…

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    Muchas Palmas

    No California desert trip is complete without a visit to an oasis, and on a Salton Sea sojourn, that means a 1-mile (round-trip) out-and-back walk to palm tree heaven: Dos Palmas Preserve just northeast of the sea. Park in the small lot and take the rock-bordered San Andres Trail…

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    Salton Sea 101

    Your best intro to the Salton Sea is via a 2.5-mile walk along the north shore in Salton Sea State Recreation Area. It’s not exactly paradise, but the surrounding geography is impressive: the Santa Rosa and Coyote Mountains to the west and the Orocopia and Chocolate ranges to the…

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    I Got You, Bird

    The Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge doesn’t get many human visitors, but more than 30,000 birds make it a point to visit this hidden gem every year. It consists of 2,200 acres of wetland, farm fields, and desert across two separate units on the Salton Sea’s sparsely populated…

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    Top of Teutonia

    The best way to see just how vast and amazing Mojave National Preserve is? By bagging a peak, of course. From Teutonia Peak, you get a great perspective on the world’s largest and densest forest of Joshua trees, and the amazingly symmetrical landform known as Cima Dome. A quick…

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    Formation Nation

    You don’t have to head to a museum to see some of the world’s greatest sculpted formations. Take a hike along Caruthers Canyon Trail in Mojave National Preserve’s New York Mountains, where eons of volcanic activity have left behind a dazzling landscape of fantastic rock…

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    Watering Hole

    In the dry, dry Mojave, water holes aren’t just oddities; they’re critical lifesavers. Rock Spring in the heart of Mojave National Preserve is a perfect example of a spot that has slaked the thirst of native tribes, explorers, and hikers (not to mention animals) for years. These…

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    Bell of the High Desert

    The payoff for the thigh-burning hike up Bell Mountain is a majestic view with a patriotic flair. Unfolding beneath you is a panorama of the San Bernardino and San Gabriel Mountains and a vast expanse of the high Mojave Desert, while Old Glory flaps in the breeze above you. It’s…

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    A Rainbow Connection

    A place called Rainbow Basin Natural Area certainly suggests a glorious radiance of color, and this remarkable desert area north of Barstow doesn’t disappoint. A hike on Owl Canyon Trail takes you on a journey through the sunburnt oranges and deep reds of its sandstone formations…

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    Snaking Your Way Through Joshua Tree

    You don’t have to be a rock climber to enjoy this high-friction frolic in Joshua Tree. All it takes is a sense of adventure—a willingness to plunge into a dramatic canyon that’s devoid of such niceties as trails or signs. Rattlesnake Canyon begins as a sandy wash behind a sign…

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    Journey into the Chasm of Doom

    When you enter Joshua Tree’s Chasm of Doom, your fate is sealed. Your life becomes an experience of mystery, steep climbs, steeper drops, chimneying, and death-defying squeezes. What could be more fun? From the entrance of the slot canyon in Hidden Valley, you first make a steep…

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    Good Times in Anza-Borrego's Badlands

    Anza-Borrego’s badlands look forbidding, but anyone with a sense of adventure can dive in and explore V-shaped canyons, 100-foot-deep slots, and a vast maze of sandstone rock formations laced with the calcite veins that drew miners here in the 1940s. At the heart of all this…

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