Split the Difference

Joshua Tree is famous for its namesake trees (and that U2 album), but there are plenty of other…

My Weekend Sherpa:

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Joshua Tree is famous for its namesake trees (and that U2 album), but there are plenty of other cool natural features on display at this national park. For example, gigantic boulders. Not size-of-a-car boulders, more like size-of-a-building boulders.

See these big guys on a leisurely off-the-beaten-path hike along the Split Rock Trail. It’s a mellow 2-miler showing off the best of Joshua Trees’ behemoth boulders!

This trail less traveled is a classic Mojave Desert habitat with pinyon pines, yuccas, and the occasional black-tailed jackrabbit. The loop starts at the literal Split Rock (indeed, get your photo in front of it).

Then hike through flat but rocky terrain, across washes, and through more boulder fields. After about 1.3 miles there’s a junction to visit Face Rock. It’s a short spur trail, and the rock kinda looks like a face, if you squint.

The Split Rock Trailhead is off of Park Blvd., 10 miles south of the Oasis Visitor Center

WHERE TO EAT & STAY: The town of Joshua Tree maintains a high desert bohemian and arts vibe that feels uninfluenced by social influencers (for now). Grab a beer at the Joshua Tree Saloon, where the Old West welcome hikers, climbers, campers, and locals eating everything from jalapeño poppers to baskets of baby back ribs basted in a homemade Jack Daniels No. 7 BBQ.

Wash everything down with one of the seasonal brews or a staple Guinness. We also really like Pie for the People—eat in or take out from this pizzeria that’s become a beloved locals’ favorite for its hand-forged pies. Try the David Bowie: mozzarella, bacon, roasted pineapple, jalapeños, Guinness caramelized onion, plum sauce—yum! Camping at Joshua Tree is very popular, with plenty of options depending on what you like (and what you can get!).

WEEKEND SHERPA RECOMMENDS: More recently, LA’s influence is coming through among artists who have moved to the area or own properties and are setting up unique stays at or near their abodes. Like this Airstream, located a few minutes from town up a dirt road, on 1.5 acres overlooking the desert landscape, including Joshua Tree National Park. The artisan touches range from sweet patio lighting and firepit warmth to Pendleton wool blankets for a spirit of the west desert decor.

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