Break Away Weekend in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree is located in Southern California where the Mojave meets the Colorado desert, producing a unique landscape with a rich diversity of life. Joshua trees grow throughout the park, playfully greeting visitors with their crooked arms.

In November, with all the deadlines and family obligations of the holiday season approaching, ladies from three states gathered in Joshua Tree for Break Away Weekend: No Boundaries, No Boys, our first Shoestring Adventure just for women.

We were joined by Heather Bischoff of Dragonfly Direction, who guided us through meditation and helped us set early New Year’s resolutions. Local artist Lindsay Hollinger of Casa Joshua Tree taught us how to capture the landscape in watercolor, while photographer Ryan Tuttle captured the best moments with her camera. We explored the ruins of a gold mine, watched the sunset, and meditated in a time machine.

Every year, I renew the same resolution: Spend more time outdoors! When wanderlust strikes, Joshua Tree National Park offers a quick escape for weekend warriors, with enough open space to combat the most severe case of cubicle fever. Here’s how we spent our weekend in the park, along with some helpful hints for planning your own adventure.

When to Go

Joshua Tree’s busy season is October through May, when the weather is most pleasant; however, the park receives visitors year-round, despite summer temperatures soaring above 100℉.

Where to Stay

Most of Joshua Tree’s nine campgrounds are first come, first served, which is perfect for more spontaneous adventure seekers. During the busy season, arrive early to improve your chances of scoring a site on the weekend. Reservations for family sites at Black Rock and Indian Cove may be made up to six months in advance for October through May. Group sites at Indian Cove, Sheep Pass and Cottonwood may be reserved up to 1 year in advance.

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What to Do

Friday

On Friday night, we arrived just before sunset and enjoyed homemade turkey chili with a kick of cinnamon around the campfire. Camper Kathleen made her very first s’more with expert skill. Heather shared some essential oils to help us set intentions for the weekend before crawling into our tents.

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Saturday

The next morning, campers woke to the smell of fresh coffee, bacon and pancakes. After breakfast, we headed to Lost Horse Loop trailhead to meet Joshua Tree local Lindsay, who taught us to paint the landscape in a new way.

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We hiked the 4-mile loop to the remains of Lost Horse Mine, which yielded gold and silver during its heyday. Past the mine, we stumbled upon a breathtaking view and unbeatable lunch spot. The landscape resembled the bottom of the ocean, with an extinct volcano rising from the seafloor.

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In the afternoon, we drove to Skull rock, watching the sunset bounce off the unusual rock formations. For dinner, we fired up the BioLite BaseCamp stove to cook foil veggie packets and spicy Italian sausages. After dinner around the campfire, we took a night hike under the blanket of stars.

Sunday

Before returning to the hustle and bustle of urban life, we enjoyed a relaxing sound bath at the Integratron, a sound chamber built in 1954 by George van Tassel, who claimed to have received the plans from aliens visiting from Venus. Van Tassel built what he believed to be a time machine. Reservations are required for the sound bath, a 30-minute meditation in which quartz crystal singing bowls are played to provide healing and rejuvenation to the body.

Afterwards, we fed our souls with beignets and French toast at La Copine, a satisfying conclusion to our weekend journey.

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What to Bring

If you’re a camping beginner, check out GetOutfitted, an online rental service that delivers premium camping gear directly to your doorstep. The Camper Package includes tent, sleeping bag and pad.

Once you have the essentials, check out our Car Camping Checklist to prepare for your trip.

Featured Products

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Special thanks to the amazing ladies of Breakaway Weekend 2015: Heather, Kathleen, Kathy, Ellice, LeeAnne, Ryan and Lindsay!

Photos by Ryan Tuttle and Alyx Schwarz

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