Let me begin by saying that this is unlike any park you’ve visited before! It is a place where Colorado Desert and Mojave Desert meet and marry, as I’d like to say. You must be thinking, desert?! Let me tell you that this extrodinary place on planet earth is so diverse in its landscape, vegetations, animals, and of course, your not- so-ordinary Cactus trees… not to mention the mountainous surroundings, carved canyons, and the rocky hills.
For our trip, we flew from Dallas to LAX and rented a car for our excursions. After considering several lodging options near the park, we decided to establish Palm Springs as our place to stay. Our drivetime from Palm Springs to the park was under an hour each way. We love Palm Springs and wanted to have a comfortable stay at night and also access more dinner options in the evening. So I would recommend this itinerary as Tip #1.
I hope my tips can be helpful to the daytrip visitors from Los Angeles/orange county, out-of-state visitors, or Palm Springs visitors who want to see a bit more of the desert.
Tip #2: One of the many ways to enter the park is from Palm Springs and I’m going to highly recommend the way that gets you to the West Station entrance . Take 60 to 62 and it will take you through the breathtaking canyons (winding road), Yucca Valley, and drops you at the West Entrance entrance. Pay a small entrance fee and you’re on the way. The second way is entering from the Cottonwood Visitor enterance, southern part of the park, off of highway 10.
Tip #3: Begin your day early so that you will have sufficient time to see as much as possible. You can always turn around and exit back towards Palm Springs from the same entrance or you may continue towards the southern part of the park and exit through the Cottonwood Visitor center Which is what we did. This exit will put you on highway 10 which is a straight shot back to Palm Springs or where you drove from.
Tip #4: Entering Cottonwood Visitor Center entrance will provide you with a more flat and desert like views, followed by a visit to the Cholla botanical garden. You can always turn around at any point and head back towards the Highway 10 or continue on towards the west entrance station. As you continue, you will notice a complete change of scenery in the Mojave desert section compared to the beginning of this route. It’s stunning!
Tip #5 If you like camping, it’s very doable here, so just research the details on their website. We saw several people who were camping out and seem to be having a blast.
Tip #6 Don’t hesitate to climb the rocks. We saw both amateur and professional climbers. Just be careful!
Tip #7: Rent a car and drive if it’s feasible. The freedom to pullover and linger is priceless.
Tip #8: You can visit the park year around, but I recommend springtime for the blossoms and fall for mild weather, otherwise expect heat.
Tip #9: Dress in layers for comfort.
Tip #10: Consider your needs and wants for this visit, but really allow a day to see and take in all the beauty. Most importantly, enjoy Mother Nature.
When Will you visit??