Top Desert Destinations
Where should you go when you’re not visiting Butterfield Ranch Resort? There are so many places to visit in California, we find it impossible to just highlight a few. So, expect more from us as we build our lists of top camping destinations. We thought we’d start out with something close to home. Desert Camping, here we come!
Anza Borrego State Park
Very close to home for Butterfield, Anza Borrego is a beautiful desert landscape. As the largest state park in California, it has hundreds of miles of dirt roads and hiking trails. It is a great destination for off-roading, hiking, biking and horse-back riding. Additionally, it’s yearly wildflower bloom provides a spectacular display of colors you wouldn’t expect from the arid landscape. While enjoying the desert vegetation, you can also visit the sandstone windcaves near Split Mountain or the Arroyo Tapiado mud caves. If you want to venture a little outside the park, you can visit Agua Caliente and relax in the natural hot springs.
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley is marked as the hottest, driest and lowest spot in the United States. Spanning both California and Nevada, this part of the larger Mojave Desert features everything from the towering snow capped Telescope Peak, to rolling Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, to the sprawling salt water flats of the Badwater Basin (over 250 feet below sea level). Don’t miss Scotty’s Castle, the elaborate Spanish-style Mansion built in the 1920s. You can explore California’s geological past and visit the gaping Uberhebe Crater, the beautifully patterned structure of Mosaic Canyon or the colorful deposits on Artist’s Drive. You can cool down at Darwin Falls, a natural spring-fed waterfall, or visit mining remnants at the Wildrose Charcoal Kilns. Regardless of your favorite desert activities, you will find it in Death Valley.
Mojave Desert National Preserve
The Mojave National preserve is a 4-wheelers paradise. Much of the million acres of the preserve are only available to trail blazers and off-roaders. In fact, nearly half of the preserve is designated as a “wilderness” area and is protected from any kind of development. Exploring this wilderness will bring you to such wonders as extinct volcanoes at Cinder Cones Lava Beds, a white fir forest at the base of Clark Mountain, and the sandy stretches of The Devil’s Playground. The preserve is a great place for horseback riders, as they have open access to all areas of the preserve.
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree is unique in allowing you to experience both “high” and “low” desert in the same park. The western “high” desert portion is home to the hallmark Joshua trees that give the park its name, while the eastern “low” desert portion is home to more arid brush and cacti. At Joshua Tree you can enjoy 250 miles of horse trails, dirt roads for mountain biking, and over 400 rock climbing locations. You can take a tour of Keys Ranch, a remnant of frontier life, or you can catch a look at the infamous San Andreas Fault in Coachella Valley.
Palm Springs Desert
If you’re looking for a more urban location, Palm Springs is a great desert destination. With tons of golf clubs, shopping, and arts attractions, Palm Springs has something for everyone. There are several museums for the history buff, the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens for the family, aerial tour options for a bird’s eye view of desert’s natural wonders, and Hot Springs for a relaxing soak.
Whatever your vacation preferences may be, there is a desert destination for you. If you didn’t find it here, www.californiadesert.gov lists just about every desert destination California has to offer. So, why not make your next camping trip a desert vacation?