One Week in the Palm Springs Area: Joshua Tree National Park & La Quinta Resort

In my mind it’s always sunny and 80 degrees in Southern California. Not the case when Josh and I went visited Joshua Tree National Park and the Palm Springs area in February of 2023. It was more 45 degrees and 15-20 mph winds in Joshua Tree and low to mid 60s in Palm Springs. Ironically, while we booked the trip to get away from winter in Boston, the temperature at home was seasonably warm and higher than the temp in California!

Enough about the weather. I had gone to Palm Springs for a work trip a few years back and was struck by the desert landscape. Since we were looking for something domestic, warmer and different than Florida, the desert called me back. Lately the vacation vibe for Josh and I has been to do a mix of heavy activities and relaxing. The first leg of the trip we did a few days of actively touring Joshua Tree National Park.

The second leg of the trip we visited the golf/tennis haven of La Quinta California. There we were able to relax a bit together, yet both enjoy our respective hobbies on our own, which worked out very well. As we transported we mixed in a few stops in Palm Springs proper and met up with family in Temecula, CA.

Sidenote – I’ve been quiet on this blog for some time. Mostly because during the COVID/post COVID era I hadn’t really been traveling a ton. This trip re-inspired me and now I am back 🙂

The Basics

Time of Trip: Late February 2023

Length of Stay: 6 nights, 3 in Joshua Tree 3 @ La Quinta Resort


  • Monday:
    • Transported Boston to Palm Springs
    • Got Lunch in Palm Springs, Walked Around & Visited some stores
    • Drove to Airbnb, Went to Grocery Store etc.
  • Tuesday:
    • Toured Joshua Tree: Hidden Valley Hike, Barker Dam, Skull Rock, Cholla Garden
  • Wednesday:
    • Toured Joshua Tree: Wall Street Mill, Arch Rock, Ryan Ranch & Sunset at Keys
  • Thursday:
    • Drove from Joshua Tree to La Quinta
    • Lunch in Palm Springs
    • Checked out Indian Wells Tennis Garden
  • Friday:
    • La Quinta: Pool, Tennis, Golf
  • Saturday:
    • La Quinta Morning: Pool, Tennis, Golf &
    • Afternoon: Trip to Temecula to visit family
  • Sunday Transported back to Boston

Joshua Tree Activities

In Joshua Tree we spent the vast majority of the time hiking and touring the park. We covered almost all of the park except for the far southeast end. The weather was so much colder than expected we had to go to the nearest souvenir shop that opened in the morning and grab winter hats, sweatshirts etc. Even then the wind was still brutal. I think if the weather was more palatable we would have gotten in at least one more hike each day. The good thing about Joshua Tree is there are a lot of quick hikes you can cover fast. It’s also pretty quickly drivable.

Joshua Tree Hikes for the Casual Hiker:

If you’re a National Park peruser like me you’re essentially looking for nice nature walks. Maybe in the mood for a bit of a challenge or a little something strenuous depending on the day. Overall I’m there for the scenery and to get some exercise. We’re not talking backpacking, camping, or anything more than 5 miles really. I’m on the lookout for interesting scenery, in this case some of the hikes had remnants of former gold mining/ranching sites like mining equipment and old abandoned cars.

My one general commentary on the trails there was that alot of them were kind of open, and there were some markers but it was kind of easy to veer off into the open. These were the Joshua Tree hikes we did that optimized for distance and scenery.

  • Hidden Valley – 1 Mile
  • Barker Dam – 1.1 Miles
  • Wall Street Mill – 2 Miles
  • Ryan Ranch – 1 Mile
  • Arch Rock – 1.4 MIles

Hidden Valley

This was our first hike, It was one of my favorites. The rock scenery was quite cool. It took a bit to adjust to the cold and wind but we made it through.

Barker Dam

This was another nice hike/walk. There was a dam but it had very little water this time of year.

Wall Street Mill

If I’m being honest we didn’t make it all the way to the end of this trail on account of how freezing and windy it was the second day. Note the snow at the bottom of some of the Joshua Trees as well as the snow capped mountain in the distance. This was a good flat trail though with some interesting tidbits like old abandoned cars and mining equipment.

Ryan Ranch

Another quick hike. This one was cool because it was another former Ranching site with mining equipment and a former adobe residence.

Arch Rock

This was a hike we did which was pretty quick out and back. However it was kind of hard to find the main attraction which was the Arch Rock lol. We had to look around and follow some other people as there were some different paths the trails could take.

Joshua Tree Photo Op Musts

Definitely cover these spots for any content needs: Skull Rock, Choalla Garden, Sunset at Keys View, and Arch Rock

Skull Rock

Skull Rock is a quick park and pop out situation. It is a rock that quite literally looks like a Skull.

Choalla Garden

Choalla Garden is a spot where you can pop out and walk around the choalla plants which are kind of like small cactuses with a bunch of small branches. The plants should not be touched and area allegedly quite painful if you do. What these pictures don’t show is that the choallas go on for miles and miles. You don’t see them in all of the park but once you cross a certain spot they pop up out of nowhere and then there are thousands of them. This was one of my favorite things because it was so unique and beautiful.

Sunset at Keys View

Whatever time the sun sets at I would get here a good deal of time before. We went a little early and still almost missed it. This was a great spot that I would definitely check out again. You can see out for a great distance including views of the Salton sea.

Other Trip Activities

Pioneer Town

Pioneer town is an area where Western movies were filmed.

Indian Wells Tennis Garden

Indian Wells is the site of the huge Pro Tournament in March. We walked around for a bit. We weren’t able to get into any of the stadiums to check those out but we were able to get a sense of the size of the operation.

Tooling around Palm Springs

We spent two separate outings walking down Palm Canyon Drive, and checking out the shops/grabbing a bite to eat etc.


Temecula is a cool town in the mountains of California about an hour west of San Diego. We went out there to meet up with my cousin and daughter which was awesome. I will say the ride there was treacherous. It was through the mountains and the ledges were v. scary, I was totally unprepared for it mentally lol. On the way home we went on the major highways. Temecula center was so packed, so many people going out to eat it was hard to get in anywhere.

La Quinta Activities

At La Quinta we did what we love to do which is to act like retired people. Josh golfed, I played tennis and we went out to dinner and sat by the pool.

Josh Golf:

  • Spot 1: PGA West Pete Dye Mountain Course
  • Spot 2: PGA West: Nicklaus Course

Tracy Tennis: La Quinta has a ton of courts and a number of clinics/tennis pros you can book lessons with easily online.

Food Scene near Joshua Tree National Park

There were a couple good spots but overall not a popping foodie destination. Similar to other National Park area towns I’ve been to. Definitely room for growth. I would stick to the basics in town, and hit the grocery store. We tried to venture a bit one night and ended up at a Mexican place that had good ratings but was absolutely terrible.


  • Ground Sqrl: Solid brew pub with good beer and food options
  • Dez: Take out cafe with good to go options to bring for a day at the park
  • Crossroads Cafe: Solid breakfast ‘

Food Scene in Palm Springs

Palm Springs is popping with tons of great restaurants. We really just breezed through Palm Springs on the way, but managed to get two meals here.

Food Scene at La Quinta Resort

There are a few restaurants on the restaurant. Everything was expensive. Pretty much 35% more than is typical. There also was a marketplace that was a solid B for lunch/snacks etc. We didn’t venture out into La Quinta town at all.

Best thing I had was this Nutella dessert from the Adobe Grill (Mexican). Josh was obsessed with his meal at restaurant Morgan’s in the Desert which was the more high end place.

Things to Know

If you go at other times of the year Joshua Tree can be dangerously hot. Do not go in the summer. There were literally signs everywhere warning people not to die.

Be prepared for all types of weather if you go in the winter. Don’t be like us and think it was going to be 70 degrees then end up having to purchase a bunch of random gear to stay warm.

Mid-March – Mid-April is probably the ideal time to go. Less of a risk of it being cold like it was and before it gets super hot out.

Pros to going in February was it was not crowded at all in Joshua Tree.

The town of Joshua tree is pretty much a suburb so you can expect to be able to find normal grocery stores and conveniences.


Joshua Tree – We stayed at an AirBNB in the town of Joshua Tree in an area called “Coyote Canyon”. There are tons of good options for short term rental houses to stay at near Joshua Tree. The main towns outside the park are Joshua Tree and TwentyNine Palms. They are pretty similar towns, both are close to the park, so I don’t have a strong recommendation of one over the other. Another option is to drive the hour from Palm Springs and day trip it. Link here.

La Quinta Resort – La Quinta is a resort in La Quinta California. There are tons of pools, multiple restaurants on site, and a tennis club attached. The grounds were very nice as were the rooms. Link here.

Travel Logistics

There are no direct flights from Boston to Palm Springs. On the way there we did: Boston to Phoenix, Phoenix to Palm Springs. This isn’t a bad play in terms of connecting flights. The flight from Phoenix to Palm Springs is super quick. On the way back we did Boston to Dallas, Dallas to Boston which was fine as well. Another option would be to do a direct flight to either LA, San Diego, Las Vegas or Phoenix and then drive from there.

Getting around: Rental car is a must to traverse the park and travel around the area.


I’m kind of embarrassed to write the amount we spent in La Quinta, but this blog is about transparency lol.

Its possible to do the Joshua Tree leg of the trip very cheaply. Definitely not possible to do a Tennis/Golf resort trip on the cheap though. Full breakdown below.


  • Travel: $1898
  • Joshua Tree: $1720
  • La Quinta: $4392

Airbnb $814.44
Car Rental$968
National Park Pass$80
Joshua Tree & Palm Springs
Dining Out
La Quinta Lodging$2,296.47
La Quinta Food$725
La Quinta Tennis $300
Golf (Josh 18 Holes X 2) $571
La Quinta Massages $500
Total for 2 $8,011.66~$4,000 Per Person

Next time

Joshua Tree I would go back to as a day trip, but would definitely go see other parks before going back. The only thing I wish we had the chance to see was the Keyes Ranch. This requires you to book in advance with the park rangers. You can definitely cover everything here in 2 days, you could cover a good amount in 1 day.

Stargazing was highly promoted there, I probably would have brought binoculars or looked into a stargazing tour.

La Quinta resort was a great place for a tennis/golf couples vacation, I would go there again and go to the Indian Wells tournament.

3 responses to “One Week in the Palm Springs Area: Joshua Tree National Park & La Quinta Resort”

  1. Excellent write up. Butch and I both read this. The weather is often the problem. Your pictures are great. Our trip to Phoenix had similar scenery including the choallas. We went to an old mining town near Sedona. We want to go back to Sedona. So glad you had fun in spite of the weather.


  2. Just beautiful pictures and information. We celebrated Frank’s 60th birthday there with 6 other couples that were our neighbors in LaCosta, CA. We went in June and the men played golf at 5:30AM due to the heat. This was in 2004. We atayed at La Quinta in a casita which had a fire place that we definitely did not use. 😍 One of our Navvy friends had a medical practice there.
    Keep traveling. Love to hear all about your trip.
    Aunt Carol


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