Joshua Tree

[spotlight series. kathrin smirke and kristo torgersen]

[joshua tree soundtrack. sunshine]

Located in the Mojave Desert, Joshua Tree is a remarkably special place. We love time spent here. The magic is undeniable. The Mojave first cast its spell over us after a chance invite back in March 2013. A friend of a friend invited us to a birthday event they were hosting at the Integratron (see below), a magnetic dome in the middle of the high desert that was built on a powerful energy vortex, where sound baths are conducted. On our first visit, we found ourselves with twelve random new friends, lying on yoga mats inside the dome, listening to the resonating sounds of the quartz bowls bouncing off the rounded walls of the dome and trembling through the floorboards. A meditation like no other. We were even lucky enough to spend the night inside the dome. It was magic. We hiked through the National Park, weaving between the funny looking yucca trees. We drove out to explore Giant Rock. We shopped and snacked in the main street in town. And we spent hours gazing at starry-filled desert skies. From that weekend on, we were hooked.

Returning again last month, the experience was equally as intoxicating.

In Joshua Tree, you will swim in a sea of Mojave calm. It’s a place for solitude and clarity. It is easy to see why it has long attracted nature lovers, musicians, artists, New Age spiritual seekers and other urban refugees. A perfect, peaceful and private Idaho in which to soak up all the best of the desert wonders.

Below you will find all our updated recommendations. We are also excited to introduce Kathrin Smirke, owner of Dome in the Desert and fashion label, Gypsan, as one of our new desert insiders.

To eat.

Natural Sisters Café: for decent coffee and lots of organic, healthy favorites. Great juices, smoothies, baked goods, salads, sandwiches and vegan options as well.

Crossfoods: for good breakfasts, burgers, tacos and more.

Joshua Tree Health Foods: for all your healthy staples.

Pappy and Harriet’s (see below): where all the food is amazing. Definitely order some meat from the grill. The steak equals perfection. The ribs are famed. And we love their veggie burger as well.

To shop.

Joshua Tree Farmers Market: held every Saturday (8am-1pm) just off the Twentynine Palms Highway.

The End: for recycled designer finds. Contemporary and vintage. Anything from Band of Outsiders to Opening Ceremony.

BKB Ceramics: for beautiful pottery and other handcrafted goods. BKB’s ethos is pure, sustainable, conscious, handcrafted design.

Hoof & The Horn: a cute, well-curated boutique in the Yucca Valley for modern and vintage desert gems. Stocked full of hi-desert essentials, as well as some great brands including Commune, Minnetonka moccasins and local jewelry designers.

Ricochet: we love this cute spot for unique vintage finds. Dresses, bags, sunglasses, cowboy boots and more. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

To do.

Explore the National Park. This can take hours, days, weeks. Take as long as you need. Hike. There are so many trails to choose from. One of our favorites is the 49 Palms Oasis Trail (a 3 mile return trip) where you hike into a desert oasis filled with the coolest looking pineapple-palm trees. We pretended it was hundreds of years earlier and how stoked we would have been to find this shady little patch of desert heaven.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace: no trip to Joshua Tree is complete without a visit to this awesome honky-tonking, BBQing, live music venue in nearby Pioneertown. A town that was built solely to be used as a country and western film set, Pappy’s stands alone here as the go-to destination in this faux town. Hang out with desert-rats and escaped city-slickers. Hoedown to the local Sunday band (the Hot Fudge Sunday). Or if its around Coachella time, catch one of the side shows under the stars – War on Drugs play 15 April, Jamie XX plays 15 April.

Integratron: come to this magical and powerfully energetic site (mentioned above) – the only all-wood, acoustically perfect sound chamber in the US – to rejuvenate, meditate, and to take part in one of the incredible sound baths.  With your heads in the center of the dome, you will lie on yoga mats, and listen as a series of quartz bowls (all of various frequencies) are played. The sound waves are incredibly meditative. Hard not to find this an incredibly positive and healing experience. Come also for the meteor shower party.

High Desert Test Sites: founded and administered in 2002 by the queen of the hi-desert’s art community, Andrea Zittel, HDTS is a series of open-desert locations providing an experimental way for emerging and established artists to show their experimental art installations, and performances, exploring desert themes of “contemporary art and life at large.”

Noah Purifoy Joshua Tree Outdoor Desert Art Museum: over ten acres of crazy outdoor sculptures, this desert museum has to be seen. Using recycled materials, Noah Purifoy created these surreal sculptures using castoff metals, burnt wood, blown-out rubber tires and more, over a fifteen-year period from 1989 to 2004.

Take a side trip to Idyllwild. Nestled into the San Jacinto mountains, this peaceful mountain getaway is perfect for day hikes, longer hiking journeys and rock climbing. Perfect in Springtime. Rent a cabin.

Salvation Mountain: a whacky art installation covering a hill in the Colorado Desert (kind of in the middle of nowhere) near Slab City, and further on than the Salton Sea. Created by local resident Leonard Knight (who passed away last year), Salvation Mountain is made from adobe, straw and thousands of gallons of paint. It is filled with bright colored murals and areas painted with Christian sayings and Bible verses. It is a big detour from wherever you are, and wherever you are going, but it’s a brilliant photo opportunity if nothing else.

The Salton Sea: a shallow, saline rift lake located directly on the San Andreas Fault line, in California’s Imperial and Coachella valleys. We detoured via here on the way to Joshua Tree (its quite a detour!). The Salton Sea, with an estimated surface area of 343 square miles (890 km2) or 350 square miles (910 km2), is the largest lake in California. The day we visited (a Sunday) we were lucky enough to stumble across a cute local farmers market, mainly Mexican stallholders, selling homemade tamales, tostadas, and tacos. 


To sleep…

Dome in the Desert: this magical little dome is our most beloved Airbnb find so far. Only 5 minutes from town, you have your own little patch of desert here. This dome itself has a modern-gypsy aesthetic, a beautiful mix of mid-century modern and vintage furnishings. Fully self-contained, it also comes complete with a meditation loft, vintage palm-reading books, hanging chairs, a guitar, and miles and miles of clear open skies made perfect for star-gazing. We wanted to stay forever.

29 Palms Inn: surrounded by the vast Mojave Desert looking up to the National Park, this 70-acre property is a desert institution. Stay here for cute bungalows and wood-frame cabins all set in an oasis of palms. Peacefully and perfectly located for trips into the National Park, it’s a great base for your desert stay. There is a cute pool, and a simple-looking (but delicious) restaurant. The service was uber-friendly and the steak was on point. There is a lovely organic garden to wander around, and hammocks to chill out on. The stars here shine brighter than ever. A perfect desert base, bursting with character and good vibes.