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PGA WEST’S new ownership is busy restoring ‘The Western Home of Golf in America’

Photo by Evan Schiller

Martin Kaufmann November 8, 2021 10:55 am ET 

From the moment we first glimpsed PGA WEST at the “Skins Game” 35 years ago, we all knew that we had witnessed something transformative. Viewers couldn’t help but marvel at how land so rugged and unforgiving could be transformed into something so beautiful and seductive, ultimately luring an untold number of golfers from around the world to California’s Coachella Valley over the past 35 years.

PGA WEST quickly earned a moniker – “The Western Home of Golf in America” – that reflected the fact that all of the major professional tours and the NCAA regularly visited, allowing the game’s best players to test themselves against some of the stiffest designs of Pete Dye, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Weiskopf, and Greg Norman. It also became a bucket-list destination for avid golfers and an attractive landing spot for couples looking to enjoy the good life in the desert.

Last year Century Golf Partners, an established operator of high-end clubs and resorts, teamed with Hankuk Industry, which owns courses in the U.S. and Japan, to acquire PGA WEST and The Citrus Club, including the Mountain and Dunes golf courses. That set off a whirlwind of activity, with the new ownership pouring resources into course improvements on all nine PGA WEST courses. The goal of this long-term project is three-fold: provide tournament conditions daily; bring more big tournaments to the property; re-establish PGA WEST as a must-visit destination with courses that are fixtures on top-100 lists.

“We want to secure our position in the top five of U.S. club resorts in the U.S.,” said Ben Dobbs, PGA WEST’s Executive Director. “We have the architects, the properties and the location to achieve this. Having iconic golf courses and great architects were just the beginning. Now we must be innovative, relevant and provide exceptional experiences.”

That attitude is reflected in the recently completed work on the Greg Norman Course, which opened in 1999. Greens were restored to their original sizes, and the TifDwarf Bermuda grass was replaced with TifEagle, which eventually will be installed at each course, creating optimal year-round conditions. In addition, more than 100 bunkers were rebuilt, the expansive native areas were restored, and turf was added to enhance playability on the brutal target-golf layout.

PGA WEST has also made a major commitment to deep-tine aerification equipment, ensuring healthier turf conditions. Each course is being aerified twice annually.

“Ultimately, we’ll have firmer greens and the ability to mow them lower,” said Chris May, Director of Agronomy, who will guide the eventual restoration of all nine courses. “We want tournament conditions on all of these courses before and after overseeding. The benefit of doing all of this work is they get in really good shape in the summer as well.”

The work on the Norman Course follows the restoration last year to the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course – which pairs with PGA WEST Pete Dye Stadium when the PGA TOUR visits each January to play The American Express – and work this year on the Arnold Palmer Private Course.

The latter, with its finishing holes sculpted along the rugged Santa Rosa Mountains, produced some of the most memorable moments of the PGA Tour’s West Coast Swing, including David Duval’s closing eagle in 1999 to shoot 59 and win the tournament. The course has never been in better shape. May’s team installed TifEagle putting surfaces over new greens irrigation, restored all greenside bunkers to original specifications, and replaced all of the bunker sand.

Brandon Johnson, the long-time senior architect for Arnold Palmer Design, returned to La Quinta to revitalize the picturesque finishing holes along the All-American Canal. Johnson put in new bunkering on Nos. 14 and 16 to create more differentiation between those approaches and added a knob on the back of the par-5 14th that presents a new risk-reward scenario for players trying to reach in two. “It definitely has a par-5 green now,” May said.

Johnson restored the other greens to their original contours, recapturing Palmer’s original vision.

“He tied together the whole course with one type of look,” May said.

PGA WEST’s executive team will face interesting choices on the Pete Dye Stadium Course, unquestionably one of Dye’s masterpieces. May guarantees “a restoration, not a renovation,” including recapturing the original green shapes and sizes.

“Every idea that Pete had is on this golf course,” May said. “It’s remarkably untouched – partly because it’s always been so busy that they weren’t able to do the work. We want to bring it back to what it once was.”

While May’s team is busy on the course upgrades, Dobbs also is overseeing enhancements to the five clubhouses and amenities. Those amenities include a recently opened $10 million Sports Club.

“Our owners have committed to owning us for generations, so that helps our team make long-term decisions,” Dobbs said. “I’m super-excited to be able to share everything that we are doing with golfers from around the world.”

Dining Around The Desert: Sol y Sombra, Cathedral City

You’ll find a Spanish-fusion tapas menu with locally sourced meats, spices, and produce and indoor-outdoor poolside service.

EMILY CHAVOUS FOSTERCURRENT GUIDE, RESTAURANTS

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Sol y Sombra’s pool bar at The Paloma Resort in Cathedral City.
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY THE PALOMA RESORT

This article below is written by the author named above. My experience is noted here:

My team and I joined our friend Leslie for dinner at Sol y Sombra on their 2nd night of being open, so we considered that they might not have all the bugs worked out yet. We were right, but overall it was a good experience.

The hotel is tucked away on a side street but was easy to find, and there was a valet and plenty of parking on the street. When we arrived, we were greeted and seated promptly in the cute little dining room as it was quite hot outside. The atmosphere was very festive, and the lighting and ambiance reminded me of being in Spain and visiting the spice shops.

Once a server came over, and we could order cocktails, it took about 20 minutes to get them. This was the situation for the entire evening. Not sure if they just were not prepared, were understaffed, or what the problem was. That being said, the cocktails and wine were all quite good.

We ordered a variety of tapas and enjoyed all of them, especially the muscles and Croquetas de Jamon e Queso. The only disappointing item was the empanadas. For $13 we expected more than the three very small ones, about the size of a half dollar each, that we received.

For our main course, we shared a couple of orders of Seafood Paella. The rice was wonderful, and it was all cooked perfectly.

We will be back!

And now the article from Palm Springs Life...

What’s better than tapas and tequila with friends? Tapas and tequila with friends by the pool.

When a San Francisco–based hospitality group set out to transform a 1930s adobe in Cathedral City into the centerpiece of a 66-suite boutique hotel and spa, they tapped local chef and hospitality guru Chad Gardner as a partner to conceptualize and helm the on-site restaurant and bar.

Gardner, originally from the Bay Area and a Palm Springs resident for about 15 years, is responsible for such hot spots as 533 Viet Fusion, Roly China Fusion, and 1501 Uptown Gastropub in Palm Springs as well as Willie’s Modern Fare in Rancho Mirage and Dash and a Handful, a catering and events company. Each has its own personality. At The Paloma, the same holds true for Sol y Sombra — and the attached 14-seater Poca Sombra tequila speakeasy — where you’ll find a Spanish-fusion tapas menu with locally sourced meats, spices, and produce and indoor-outdoor poolside service.

We spoke with Gardner ahead of the official opening to get the scoop on this splashy new venture.

TASTES FOR ALL PALATES

“I’ve dabbled with Moroccan and Indian spices and Spanish saffrons throughout my career, so I really [wanted] to do a Spanish tapas restaurant. I’m one of those chefs that colors outside the lines, so you’re going to see different influences even though it’s Spanish. There’s going to be something for everyone, [including] vegetarian and vegan options.”

TABLESIDE LIBATIONS

“A mixologist will come around with a bar cart and mix different cocktails. So, if there’s something in particular that you want, you’ll give him or her some flavor profiles, and the mixologist will create a cocktail for you, right on the spot. We’ll have signature cocktails in addition to a full bar and a full Spanish wine list.”

YOU’RE INVITED TO LINGER

“In addition to cabanas, the citrus suite at the foot of the swimming pool is a day suite that we’re going to offer with butler service for food, and bottle service. It’ll include six chaise lounges and be a really VIP experience … and it can be reserved. We really want people to come and enjoy this space. It’s a little bit off the beaten path.”

Whoa Nellie

A century ago, “Mother” Nellie Coffman single-handedly made Palm Springs a visitor destination — but don’t bother looking for landmarks honoring her in the city.

MICHAEL ARKIN CURRENT PSL, HISTORY

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Nellie with her sons, Earl Coffman and George Ball Roberson, in 1926.
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY PALM SPRINGS HISTORICAL SOCIETY

What’s in a name? When it comes to the Downtown Park adjacent to Palm Springs Art Museum, the question is: What’s not in one? Given that it occupies the land where the famed Desert Inn once stood, many locals wonder why it doesn’t bear the moniker of the dowdy, bespectacled woman who arrived at the dusty Seven Palms train station in 1909 and proceeded to change the town’s destiny. That woman not only built the hotel, but it was her vision and sway that led to America’s love affair with desert vacations and made the village, as the city was then called, a magnet for the rich and famous. Nellie Coffman Park does have a satisfying ring to it.

Despite the nurturing love she bestowed on the town, earning her the sobriquet “Mother Coffman,” there is nary a plaque, a street, or a park commemorating her. It’s not as if doing so would be precedent setting. The swollen ranks of city streets and parks named for celebrities and public servants include Gene Autry, Dinah Shore, Charles Farrell, Frank Bogert, Ruth Hardy, Frances Stevens, and Adolph DeMuth. Even game show host Monty Hall had a street named for him in Cathedral City. While there has been hope that the Downtown Park would be named for Nellie, as of this writing it’s not on the Palm Springs City Council’s radar, let alone its agenda.

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Nellie Coffman

Born in Indiana in 1867 to James and Ruth Orr, Nellie moved with her family to Texas, where her father built and managed a hotel in Dallas. That’s where she learned the hospitality business and met George Roberson. They married in 1886 and soon moved to Los Angeles, where he opened a secondhand furniture store. Strapped for cash, Roberson devised an insurance scam and planned to set the furniture warehouse on fire. The swindle didn’t go as planned, and according to former Palm Springs Mayor and Coffman aficionado Will Kleindienst, when Roberson was arrested for attempted arson, he slit his throat with a pocketknife. The police took him home to Nellie where he died during the night of Jan. 22, 1887.

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Nellie stands by as child star Shirley Temple christens her cottage at The Desert Inn with a bottle of milk.

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Nellie rides in a buggy with Milton Hicks (front left), Earl Coffman (striped jacket), George Roberson, and Alta Roberson on Nellie’s 80th birthday in 1947.

Widowed after only four and a half months of marriage, Nellie, then 19 years old and pregnant, returned to Dallas. Her son George Jr. was born six months later. In 1890, the family moved to California, settling in Santa Monica, where her father ran the St. James Hotel. It was there that 22-year-old Nellie met her second husband, an affluent walnut farmer named Harry Coffman. Not a girl to let the walnut seedlings grow under her feet, she and Coffman were married less than three months later. Within two years, they welcomed a son, Earl.

Plagued by a cough that grew more persistent over the years, Nellie’s doctor suggested that she summer in the mountains. She chose Strawberry Valley, known today as Idyllwild. It was from there, atop Mount San Jacinto, that she had her first glimpse of Palm Springs shimmering in the heat on the valley floor below. The innkeeper where she stayed alerted her to the benefits of the village’s endless sunshine and healing hot springs. Intrigued, Nellie vowed to visit it someday, but with two sons and a husband who was preparing to enter medical school, she had to return to Los Angeles.

It would be almost a decade before she finally made the pilgrimage, arriving on a cold December night in 1908. Overwhelmed by a windstorm that kicked up dust from the village’s dirt roads and underwhelmed by the service at Welwood Murray’s Palm Springs Hotel, she wondered if she had made a mistake. But in the morning, with bright sunshine illuminating the majestic mountains and the sound of birds singing in the palm trees, she knew she had found her “garden of peace,” which she later memorialized in poetry. Then, all she had to do was to convince her husband to give up his medical practice and move east.

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The Desert Inn became the center of the action in Palm Springs. In 1938, the resort hosted a diving exhibition.
Having witnessed the challenges her father encountered operating a hotel, Nellie swore that she would never run a boarding house, but that’s exactly what she did. Appealing to Harry’s desire to help the sick, she proposed that they open a sanatorium for people suffering from respiratory ailments. Leaving young Earl to finish high school in Los Angeles, the family arrived in Palm Springs and put down $2,000 to buy 1.75 acres at the corner of what would become Tahquitz Canyon Way and Palm Canyon Drive.

Their presence increased the village’s white settler population to 14 along with 50 Cahuilla Indian residents.

With only three bedrooms in the original house and four in the converted stables, Nellie ordered wood and canvas tent houses and, within a month, hung a hand-painted sign that read “The Desert Inn.” Suddenly, she was in business. It was a risky move considering there wasn’t even a paved road into town until 1916. Even then, a torrential rain washed out the road, and it wasn’t replaced until 1924. But she believed in her mantra: “Give the people what they want — good food, clean lodgings, and warm hospitality, and the roads and the autos will come.”

As luck would have it, her first guests were two reporters from Los Angeles Times. Impressed by her gracious hospitality and the fact that she served them a complete hot meal despite arriving after 9 p.m., they became advocates, spreading the news about The Desert Inn and its remarkable hostess. People came and spent the entire season, paying $5 a day for the inn’s American plan. At the close of the first season, Nellie had $65 in the bank.

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Nellie headed a delegaton of locals who wished a heartfelt “happy trails” to the embattled New York Mayor Jimmy Walker, who relaxed in Palm Springs in 1931 amid a corruption scandal.
She added more tents and secretly had William Charles Tanner draw up plans for the hotel’s expansion. Her ambition to build a world-class hotel that, while not the biggest, was the best, was in direct conflict with her husband’s desire to care for patients. Preferring to cater to the infirm than the rich and famous, he opened his own practice in 1918 in Calexico, some 120 miles away. While there is no evidence of a formalized divorce, their marriage was over.

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The Desert Inn became the center of the action in Palm Springs. In 1938, the resort hosted a diving exhibition.

Needing funding for the expansion, Nellie borrowed $350,000 from California oilman Thomas O’Donnell, with the provision that she would build him a house on the mountain overlooking the hotel that he could lease for up to 50 years. Ultimately, she wound up acquiring 35 acres — 27 on the flats and 8 on the mountain. Beautifully landscaped, the new 111-room Desert Inn, designed in Spanish-mission style, opened in 1927.

Featuring Palm Springs’ first art gallery, with works from early desert painters and photographers, the hotel also boasted the Coachella Valley’s first swimming pool and offered its well-heeled guests golf, pingpong, archery, horseback riding, tennis, badminton, bicycling, sun-tanning huts and stargazing — both the celestial and Hollywood kind. For guests more interested in playing the market than the shuffleboard, the inn also featured an on-premise branch of E.F. Hutton.

When not tending to celebrities like Rudolph Valentino, Cary Grant, and Shirley Temple (who had a cottage on the property named after her), titans of industry including Cornelius Vanderbilt, and government officials such as Dwight D. Eisenhower, Gen. George S. Patton, and J. Edgar Hoover, Nellie was caring for the town that she had come to love. She worked relentlessly to have the village incorporated into a city, to establish the board of trade, a predecessor of the city council, and to help the less fortunate through the Welfare & Friendly Aid Society, which she founded. She served on the school board and, due to her persistence, Palm Canyon Drive is 100 feet wide, and the village was not overrun with gambling parlors.

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Nellie participates in Desert Circus Kangaroo Court, circa 1940.

At its peak, the hotel employed 200 workers and was a melting pot of ethnicities and backgrounds. From Chinese cooks, Mexican gardeners, and Jewish painters to Filipino busboys and houseboys and German broiler-cooks, the staff was a virtual United Nations. There are those who say that while the staff was diverse, the guest list was not. Barbara Foster, whose husband Bill served as Palm Springs mayor, remembers reminiscing with Shirley Temple Black over lunch in Washington, D.C., where the former child star served as ambassador to Czechoslovakia. “I was just heartbroken,” she recalls Temple Black saying, “because Mrs. Coffman wouldn’t let Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson stay at the hotel.”

Since the guest registers are no longer accessible, rumors persist that Jews and Blacks were unwelcome. Given those allegations, it’s easy to understand how her well-known motto to “Make Palm Springs attractive to attractive people” could be misconstrued and why, 72 years after her death, people may interpret it as restrictive.

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Nellie cut the ribbon at the dedication of La Plaza in 1936.

It might also explain the reticence of the city to dedicate the Downtown Park in her name. After the revisionist uproar over the legacy of fellow city pioneer and four-term mayor Frank Bogert, Nellie might be too hot a potato. We may have to leave the tributes to other cities like Cathedral City, which recognized Nellie’s contributions to the Coachella Valley by naming its middle school in her memory. And while each city has the right to honor its famous citizens as they see fit, it seems appropriate that Palm Springs would choose to venerate the memory of a true pioneer with the same level of esteem that has been shown to movie stars, crooners, and game show hosts.

 

Best Sweet Treats

While you're in the mood to indulge, try the Best Chocolate Chip Cookie, Best Place for Tea and Chocolate, Best Date Shake, and Best Horchata Latte.

EMILY CHAVOUS FOSTERBEST OF, CURRENT PSL, RESTAURANTS

 

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These scrumptious chocolate chip cookies are made fresh daily at The Sandwich Spot in Palm Springs.
PHOTOGRAPH BY MOLLIE KIMBERLING

What is it about a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie that’s so irresistible? Natalie Keenberg, one of the friendly faces behind the counter at The Sandwich Spot in Palm Springs hits the nail on the head for me: “It’s just nostalgic,” she says. The version at this lunchtime hot spot is one of my favorites. Their approach — a “house secret,” according to Keenberg, from the recipe logs of late owner Corey Saldana, who grew up baking alongside his mother — results in an extra-wide and uniformly slim chocolate-chipper that’s slightly crisp around the edges and perfectly soft and breakable at the center. Though The Sandwich Spot has privately owned locations throughout California, and in Reno, Nevada, you will find Saldana’s cookie only at this outpost. “The cookie is a mainstay, and we make them fresh daily,” Keenberg says.  “It’s the perfect size for sharing. Or not sharing.”

The Real Italian Deli, with locations in Palm Desert and Palm Springs, takes an altogether different — but equally delicious — approach. “Our baker makes a really thick cookie,” says manager Jairo Quintanilla Flores. “You’re going to want a glass of milk.” It is taller and thicker than most, which means the center stays doughier. If for some tortuous reason you must resist immediate consumption, that doughy center translates to a cookie that’s still soft the second day.

Like the one at The Sandwich Spot, this crumbly confection often sells out. So take your lunch break early and order an extra if you can.

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Cali Rosina Tea Shop in Old Town La Quinta.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MOLLIE KIMBERLING

BEST PLACE FOR TEA AND CHOCOLATE

Regulars who pop into Old Town La Quinta’s restaurants, galleries, and boutiques may not have realized they needed a specialty tea shop, where dozens of hot and iced drinks join a global assortment of loose-leaf teas and chocolate bars. But they got it.

The door to Cali Rosina Tea Shop swings open and closed almost nonstop as co-owner Jodie Smith pours samples of the freshest, fruitiest, most flavorful iced teas into tiny paper cups for customers wracked with indecision. The spa-worthy Poolside blends lavender, lemon, and coconut. More lemon squeezes into Palmer drinks flavored by strawberry, peach, hibiscus, and mango. From ceremonial-grade matchas with homemade coconut cream to the ice-blended Cold Frosts, drinks receive sweetener only by request (choose agave, maple syrup, or honey).

About 270 artisan chocolate bars in gift-ready sleeves surpass any assortment for miles. — Lisa Marie Hart

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BEST DATE SHAKE

I first had a date shake on a dare at The Malt Shop near Lake Arrowhead when I was about 10. I loved it, especially the bottom of the glass, where the date gravel gathered. I have since discovered some significant differences in this unique, SoCal classic. There’s Hadley Fruit Orchards’ well-priced ($4.95) but insipid shake in Cabazon and Oasis Date Gardens’ excellent, super-datey shake, but the latter is still curbside only, closed on weekends during the summer, and too far to drive to unless you’re on your way to the Salton Sea. Shields Date Garden, of course, invented the date crystal in 1936. This translates to a smooth, date-infused concoction. It’s dark and creamy and a pretty good deal at $7.95 for a 22-ounce shake. My favorite is from Lappert’s Ice Cream, with locations in Palm Springs and Palm Desert. They make them in front of you with three scoops of vanilla, three scoops of date ice cream, and a couple scoops of date paste crafted from Coachella Valley dates. Add some whole milk, blend, top with whipped cream, and Bob’s your uncle. The difference is in the quality of the ice cream, and Lappert’s is heads above the competition. OK, $8.95 for 16 ounces is pricey, but if you only indulge in a date shake once or twice a year, like I do, it’s worth it. — Kent Black

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PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY LAPPERT'S ICE CREAM
Lappert’s Ice Cream has locations in Palm Springs and Palm Desert.

BEST HORCHATA LATTE

 Sixth Street Coffee in Coachella is known for its coffee as well as its community of coffee aficionados. But their caffeinated selections don’t stop at americanos and cold brew. The specialty lattes here are some of the best in the Coachella Valley, ranging from lavender-rose to chocolate Mazapan, but it’s the iced horchata latte that has us singing this coffee shop’s praises. Horchata is a beverage that’s popular in Mexico and Spain and is made by steeping grains and nuts in water and then sweetening the mixture with sugar and spicing it up with cinnamon. Adding a shot of espresso gives this sweet beverage a much-appreciated kick, making it a perfect caffeinated refresher. — Catherine Downes

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PHOTOGRAPH BY MOLLIE KIMBERLING
Horchata Latte at Sixth Street Coffee in Coachella.

26 Spots to Enjoy a Taste of Summer in the Desert

From cool libations and frozen treats to international cuisine and farm-to-table creations, Greater Palm Springs offers a variety of taste experiences.

EMILY CHAVOUS FOSTERCURRENT GUIDE, RESTAURANTS

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Tommy Bahamas Restaurant in Palm Desert.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY TOMMY BAHAMAS RESTAURANT

DINE WITH A VIEW.

Fancy a side of vibrant views with your dinner? Grab a table on the outdoor balcony at Tommy Bahama Restaurant, at The Gardens on El Paseo in Palm Desert, where you can try Hawaiian-inspired cuisine set against a magical mountain backdrop. Or take the elevator to the top floor of the Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs for dinner at 4 Saints, which features California fare along with sweeping views of the city. The Edge Steakhouse at The Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage indeed rides the edge of the mountaintop, 650 feet above the valley floor, providing next-level views alongside a fine-dining menu that includes charred octopus, foraged mushrooms, and house-aged steaks.

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IMBIBE LATE-NIGHT.

Looking for a nightcap after dark? In Palm Springs, Bootlegger Tiki serves up colorful handcrafted creations with gorgeous garnishes amid classic Polynesian décor. El Paseo’s stylish, speakeasy-esque Libation Room mixes inventive craft cocktails like a cherry-wood-smoked old fashioned with small plates that are sure to satisfy the munchies. Both deliver dark and sultry vibes.

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PHOTOGRAPH BY DANIELA STALLINGER
Shields Date Garden.

COOL DOWN WITH A FROZEN TREAT.

A visit to the Coachella Valley should always include downing a date shake, so be sure to visit the almost century-old Shields Date Garden in Indio to sample this creamy local concoction. For artisanal gelato, pop into Palm Springs’ Gelato Granucci, scooping rotating flavors including amaretto, pistachio, and options infused with locally made treats like Joshua Tree Coffee and Brandini Toffee. And though it’s no longer affiliated with the Hawaii-based chain, you’ll still find fun aloha-inspired flavors like lychee and caramel coconut macadamia at Lappert’s Ice Cream in Palm Desert and Palm Springs.

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PHOTOGRAPH BY JENNI-KATE RODGERS
Boozehounds in Palm Springs.

ENJOY AN AFTERNOON APERITIF.

Sip a midday refresher with your four-legged friend at Boozehounds in Palm Springs. The hot spot welcomes dogs on the expansive patio and even offers Fido his own food menu. If you’d rather people-watch along Palm Canyon Drive in downtown Palm Springs, pull up a stool and order a marvelous martini at Lulu California Bistro, smack in the middle of it all.

SHARE SMALL PLATES WITH A GROUP.

When you want to sample a little of everything, there’s no better route than tapas-style bites. You’ll find a full menu of them at Palm Springs cocktail bar Truss & Twine with cuisine like Sichuan-style chicken wings, citrus-marinated olives, and deviled eggs. Sidle up to the bar at Willie’s Modern Fare in Rancho Mirage and pair your cocktail with sharables like a charcuterie plate for two, mini beef tenderloin, and roasted beets atop whipped black-pepper crème fraîche.

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PHOTOGRAPH BY JAIME KOWAL
Wally's Desert Turtle in Rancho Mirage.

CELEBRATE AN OCCASION.

Whether it’s an anniversary, engagement, or just a chance to finally get together with friends and family again, many swanky spots are worthy of a special celebration. In Palm Springs, go classic French on the starlit patio at Le Vallauris, have an old-school experience (while listening to crooning piano players) at Melvyn’s Restaurant, feast on innovative seasonal fare at the industrial-style Workshop Kitchen & Bar, or indulge in a top-notch omakase of melt-in-your-mouth fish at Sandfish Sushi & Whiskey. For fine cuisine down valley, try the caviar service at Wally’s Desert Turtle or prime steaks, seafood, and sides at Mastro’s Steakhousein Palm Desert, which hosts live music nightly in the lounge.

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PHOTOGRAPH BY JAIME KOWAL
Babe's Bare-B-Que & Brewery.

DRINK LOCAL.

The desert’s beer scene is getting frothy with options like Thousand Palms’ Coachella Valley Brewing Company, where brewers use local products including citrus and honey to create their IPAs, lagers, and sour beers. At three La Quinta Brewing Co. taprooms, you can sample valley-themed brews like the Heatwave Amber Ale, Even Par IPA, or Poolside Blonde. In Rancho Mirage, Babe’s Bar-B-Que & Brewery pours award-winning housemade suds to wash down a menu of sticky ribs, scratch-made tamales, and lobster mac and cheese.

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PHOTOGRAPH BY DANIELA STALLINGER
Kobe Japanese Steak House in Rancho Mirage.

GO INTERNATIONAL.

Specialties from dim sum to dumplings and short ribs to sea bass satay rule at Palm Springs modern Chinese eatery Roly China Fusion, with an art-covered dining room and poolside patio. For a taste of Thailand, order cuisine like pad see-ew and Panang curry at nearby Thai Smile (also in Palm Desert). For live-action eating, book a front-row seat at one of the teppanyaki tables at Kobe Japanese Steak House in Rancho Mirage.

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PHOTOGRAPHS BY JAIME KOWAL
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Citrus & Palm is inside the Miramonte Resort & Spa in Indian Wells.
EAT FARM-TO-TABLE.

For scratch-made seasonal dishes centered around produce from local farms, head to June Hill’s Table, hidden within The Polo Club in Indio, where you’ll spy veggie-topped pizzas, stir fries, fresh fish dishes, and a quinoa tabbouleh. Miramonte Indian Wells Resort & Spa’s restaurant, Citrus & Palm, touts fresh Med-inspired cuisine like Faroe Island salmon, a vegetable tagine, and a Brussels-and-quinoa salad you can enjoy on an olive grove patio. The chefs grow their own citrus and herbs on-site.

ASK AN EXPERT

Fresh Picked in Greater Palm Springs
Agriculture is a major industry in the Coachella Valley. So, what are the top crops?

“Ninety-five percent of dates grown in the United States are grown right here. The Coachella Valley grows and harvests crops 11 months out of the year, including everything from citrus and table grapes to okra and eggplant. Driving around the eastern valley can be an incredible sight — come to the east end, see the beauty, feel the earth, and smell the abundance of crops. When people interact with their food, there is a visceral reaction that leads to a newfound appreciation of what it takes to stock the grocery store shelves.”

Mark Tadros, date farmer and president, Aziz Farms; co-founder, CV Harvest Box

Best Bar That Looks Like an Airplane

And where to enjoy the Best Happy Hour? Hit The Lounge at Hotel Zoso in Palm Springs.

DERRIK J. LANGBEST OF, CURRENT PSL, RESTAURANTS

PS Air Bar Palm Springs

PS Air Bar in Palm Springs.
PHOTOGRAPH BY GEORGE DUCHANNES

After a tough takeoff at the start of the pandemic, the aviation-themed PS Air landed a reputation as the Coachella Valley’s most talked about bar over the past year. That might have something to do with the fact that it’s not exactly easy to find. (Hint: To board PS Air, go to Bouschet, the beloved wine shop owned and operated by Tom Beatty and Dennis Costa, and find the bar entrance behind the counter. No TSA screening required.) The secrecy is part of the allure — as is the high-flying attention to detail: authentic 737 seats, floor lighting, riveted tables, and a vintage bar cart from which jetsetters are served cocktails such as the Black Box and Mile High. For in-flight entertainment, book one of the dining experiences like the Sunday Disco Boozy Brunch starring drag queens dressed as — you guessed it — flight attendants.
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PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY HOTEL ZOSO
The Lounge at Hotel Zoso in Palm Springs.

BEST HAPPY HOUR

Hotel Zoso, the pyramid-shaped downtown Palm Springs hotel built in 1984 that had a brief existence as a Hard Rock property, received a much-need glow-up this year, adding a weekly pool party, a nightclub, and an overhauled restaurant. The most delicious — and generous — update is the daily happy hour in The Lounge, a sunken venue in the lobby offering a well-priced array of beer, wine, craft cocktails, and bites like churros, bison wings, and flatbread topped with smoked pork butt and prickly pear sauce.

Curiously, the happy hour menu also includes a chicken hominy soup that’s totally delicious. Soup for happy hour? Only in Palm Springs.

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Things to Do in August 2022

Splash House brings music festival feel to Palm Springs, and comedians Jim Gaffigan and Jim Jeffries both make tour stops in the desert.

Splash House Palm Springs 2022

Margaritaville Resort Palm Springs is 
among the venues 
for Splash House.
PHOTOGRAPH BY BLAKE DARYAIE FOR SPLASH HOUSE

SPLASH HOUSE 2022: AUG. 12–14 & 19–21

Don your neon speedo and daisy chains and follow the beat to any of three downtown Palm Springs resorts — the Renaissance, Margaritaville, and Saguaro — for waterside sets by your favorite DJs. Splash House 2022, which happens annually in June and August, has attracted such artists as Bonobo, Justice, Rüfüs du Sol, Bob Moses, Odesza, and Tokimonsta. Your Splash House 2022 festival wristband gets you access to free shuttle service, so you can venue-hop and experience the whole splashin’ shebang. After sundown, the Splash House 2022 open-air after-party thumps all night long at Palm Springs Air Museum amid sweeping hangars and vintage planes. Need a place to crash? Hotel packages sell out fast, but you can put yourself on a waitlist in case any additional rooms at the participating resorts become available.

TASTE OF SUMMER: THROUGH AUG. 12

The city of Rancho Mirage celebrates local flavor during this annual event featuring special discounts at city restaurants and fundraisers for area nonprofits. Learn how to eat, drink and give back.

LEON POLK SMITH: 1945–1962: THROUGH AUG. 28

Palm Springs Art Museum celebrates the rich colors and pleasing geometric shapes that define Leon Polk Smith’s abstract paintings. The late Oklahoma native became enraptured by fine art as a college student in New York City.

GONZALO LEBRIJA: THROUGH OCT. 2

View two decades’ worth of photos, videos, sculptures, and paintings by Mexican artist Gonzalo Lebrija at Palm Springs Art Museum.

PATTERN PLAY: THROUGH NOV. 20

Palm Springs Art Museum exhibits joyful drawings, textiles, wallpapers, and other creations from the mind of Jacqueline Groag, a British designer who catered to the post-WWII hunger for fun and vibrant clothing and housewares.

CABOT’S PUEBLO MUSEUM MIXER: AUG. 3

The Greater Coachella Valley Chamber hosts a mixer for local businesses and people who want to learn more about them at Cabot’s Pueblo Museum in Desert Hot Springs. The event includes a continental breakfast, museum tour, and plenty of networking opportunities.

MAN MAN: AUG. 4

Led by singer and pianist Honus Honus, this sway-inducing experimental rock band is known for its variety of instruments, which might include everything from xylophone and marima to spoons, smashing plates, and fireworks. It’s exactly the type of show you’d expect at Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown.

JIM GAFFIGAN: AUG. 5

The six-time Grammy nominee known for clean comedy and dad jokes brings his “Fun Tour” to Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa in Rancho Mirage.

RAMBLIN’ 
JACK ELLIOTT: AUG. 6

The King of Folk fêtes his 91st birthday (which happens five days prior to the show) with a special performance at Pappy & Harriet’s.

TOUR DE BIG BEAR: AUG. 6

You need not head to France to pedal your way to a prize through beautiful mountain scenery. This cycling eventoffers routes for all riding levels, beginning with a zippy family fun ride and extending up to 100 miles.

IDYLLWILD ART IN THE PARK: AUG. 13–14

Escape the heat in the quaint mountain community of Idyllwild, and browse artisan-made treasures such as ceramics, glass art, jewelry, and wood carvings. Make a day of it with lunch in the charming downtown area and a hike at Idyllwild Nature Center.

RAMONA BOWL FLEA MARKET: AUG. 13–14

Whether you’re seeking a striking painting for above the dining table, a vintage film camera in great condition, or the perfect pair of retro cutoffs, you just might end your search at this monthly market at the Ramona Bowl Amphitheatre in nearby Hemet.

TAILGATE FEST: AUG. 13–14

Country faves including Jake Owen, Billy Currington, Chris Janson, the Eli Young Band, LANCO, Blanco Brown, Chase Bryant, and Ashland Craft take over the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, about an hour and 15 minutes from Palm Springs.

BANDA MS: AUG. 19

Named after Mazatlán, Sinaloa, where this group was formed, and specializing in banda music (similar to mariachi, ranchera, and norteño styles), Banda MS brings the heat to Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio.

LOVEDRIVE: AUG. 19

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino prepares to “Rock You Like a Hurricane” during this 
free outdoor concert featuring Lovedrive, a Los Angeles–based Scorpions tribute band.

PONY BRADSHAW: AUG. 25

Acoustic Americana crooner Pony Bradshaw wants to leave behind a body of work that informs future generations what life was like in our day. Hear his soulful sound at Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown.

POISON: AUG. 26

If you wish you could tell ’80s glam-rockers Bret Michaels, C.C. DeVille, Bobby Dall, and Rikki Rockett, “I Won’t Forget You,” and give them “Something to Believe In,” head to Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa in Rancho Mirage for their latest tour.

JIM JEFFERIES: 
THE MOIST TOUR: AUG. 27

The Australian stand-up known for the FX series Legit and Comedy Central’s The Jim Jefferies Show brings his provocative and belief-challenging tour to Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa.

MDOU MOCTAR: AUG. 31

Discover a new sound and a new favorite artist during this show at Pappy & Harriet’s. A truly prodigious guitarist and songwriter hailing from a rural village in Niger, Mdou Moctar’s groovy rhythms fuse traditional Tuareg melodies with the familiar flavor of Eddie Van Halen, who he grew up watching on YouTube.

Dining Around The Desert: Slice Italia, La Quinta

New La Quinta Restaurant

Slice Italia opened up on July 5th, 2022 in the old Bucatini space.

Slice Italia strives to deliver the best N.Y. Style Pizza and Italian dishes in a casual and fun atmosphere in the Coachella Valley. Slice Italia is the best of both worlds! They combine a New York pizzeria with a full-service, full-menu Italian restaurant. Slice Italia is the place to come for a quick slice, salad, or sandwich during your lunch break or to bring the family for dinner to order off of their "Build Your Own" pasta menu where the possibilities are endless. With flat-screen TVs throughout the restaurant and located right next to the movie theaters, Slice Italia is the place to come for a bite before the movies or to watch your favorite sports teams play.
Michael and I stopped in on Wednesday, and they had a decent crowd, lots of staff on the floor, and our favorite chef, Nina, on the line. Nina has been there since it was Bucatini, and we were delighted to see her.
The menu has a good selection of salads, heroes, pasta, seafood, and chicken dishes, along with a few things that seem odd for an Italian place such as Fish & Chips, Fish Tacos, Pulled Pork Sandwich, and an All American Burger, but if it works, it works. They have another location in Rancho Mirage, so it's not their first rodeo.
I had the Pesto Cream + Chicken featuring ziti pasta, pesto cream, chicken breast, and mozzarella. It was outstanding! It was a very generous portion, and I took half of it home. It was just as good the next day.
Michael had the Cajun Shrimp Pasta made with cheese tortellini, peppers, onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes in a cajun cream sauce. None of his made it home!
We had a couple of glasses of the Conundrum Red and it was very reasonably priced.
We are really pleased to see what seems like it will be a great neighborhood restaurant take over the Bucatini space, and we are looking forward to going back again soon to check out more of the menu.
46-660 Washington St.
La Quinta, CA 92253
Sunday - Thursday: 11 AM - 8 PM
Friday - Saturday: 11 AM - 9 PM

Your Guide to the Beautifully Bizarre Joshua Tree National Park

Camp, hike, and rock climb your way through California’s High Desert.

California’s Joshua Tree National Park embodied many of our pandemic fantasies. East of Los Angeles, the nearly 800,000-acre desert has inspired everything from the iconic U2 album The Joshua Tree to the fictional planet Tatooine in Star Wars. Spanning two very distinct deserts—the Mojave and the Sonoran—Joshua Tree’s hiking trails and campgrounds are wedged between oases (palm tree-dotted desert groves), cactus gardens, canyons, and sculpture-like boulders.

“People come to Joshua Tree for their own special reasons,” says David Smith, park superintendent with the National Park Service. “Sometimes it’s wilderness, other times people come here for the music history, the diversity of raptors, or just the epic landscapes. People come to Joshua Tree to find themselves."

And whether you find yourself in the spiritual sense (Mormons actually named the Joshua trees after biblical prophet Joshua) or are simply here to embrace the beauty of this otherworldly, Dr.Seuss-like desert, Joshua Tree offers pretty much has everything you need to get your fix, from hiking, biking, and rock climbing to camping in UFO-shaped “homes.”

While the park is a patchwork of natural beauty, there are certainly a few less-trodden trails and sights not as easy to find on most maps. Here’s where to look to see Joshua Tree in all of its natural glory—and where to stay and stargaze when the sun goes down.

It’s not hard to see why Joshua Tree National Park attracts more than a million visitors each year. | cb_travel/Shutterstock

The best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree is open (and beautiful!) year-round. Come in the spring or fall for the best weather (but keep in mind, the park gets extra busy January through April, so book your Airbnb early). If you visit in the hot summer months, plan outdoor activities early in the morning or later in the day when the air is cooler.

On average, most people spend about four hours in the park, but given Joshua Tree’s abundance of jaw-dropping geological sights and trails, one could spend days exploring the otherworldly landscape.

It’s worth stopping at the roadside attractions leading up to the park. | Flystock/Shutterstock

Fuel up in the funky artist towns nearby

There are over 100 miles of roads within the park and not a gas station in sight, so fill up beforehand. The quirky towns surrounding the park—particularly Joshua Tree, Twentynine Palms, and Yucca Valley—are your best bet for grabbing a bite and a beer after a long day in the park.

Populated by UFOlogists, solitude seekers, antique dealers, and offbeat creatives drawn to the pull of the desert, there are plenty of unusual adventures to be had in these towns. Be sure to stop by Pioneertown, which served as a film set for old Westerns in a past life and today houses the area’s most famous bar and music venue, Pappy & Harriet’s.

Cycle through the park’s backcountry dirt roads. | Kit Leong/Shutterstock

Getting into Joshua Tree National Park

The park’s larger than Rhode Island, which means there’s a lot of ground to cover. Of the three main entrances, the Joshua Tree entrance (known as the West Entrance) is often the busiest. The North and South Entrances near Twentynine Palms and the Cottonwood Visitors Center, respectively, are far less crowded. Get there early; parking lots tend to fill up by mid-morning.

Just drive up to one of the park’s entrances and pay at the booth. A seven-day vehicle permit runs $30. Alternatively, $55 gets you a pass valid for a full year—or, if you think you’ll visit more than one national park in the next 12 months (and you should!), NPS offers an $80 pass that scores you entry to any park for a year.

The reward: spectacular rock formations on either side. | My Good Images/Shutterstock

Hit Joshua Tree’s best hiking trails

Once you’re all geared up with the right shoes and as much water as you can carry (seriously, it’s hot), it’s time to hit the trails. Skull Rock Nature Trail is one of the most popular in the park. From the Jumbo Rocks Campground, it’ll take you winding through about 1.7 miles of desert until you arrive at Skull Rock, an enormous boulder with two eye sockets carved into it by years of water erosion. It’s a pretty mild route and great for beginners.

The second trail you should hit is the Wonderland of Rocks, which—can you believe it—is a wonderland of rocks! Pebbles, stones, and giant boulders are yours to traverse for 5.5 glorious miles. Given the terrain, it’s considered a difficult trail, so be sure you’re up to the task.

Sara Combs from The Joshua Tree House has written an entire book about Joshua Tree with her husband, Rich. She recommends three underrated hiking trails: Willow Hole Trail, which covers 6.8 miles of relatively flat land; Pine City Trail, a moderate, four-mile trek where you’ll see a sprawling rock canyon and very few other humans; and North View Trail, a six-mile hike that can be tricky to navigate at times (download a map!), but will drop you into steep canyon aisles and desert dry washes lush with Joshua trees.

There’s also a ton of trails for riding horses and mountain bikes, if you prefer something speedier than hoofin’ it yourself. The winding roads through the park are perfect for motorcyclists, as well—just watch for desert tortoises crossing the road.

There’s really no bad view here. | Andrey Zheludev/Shutterstock

Check out Joshua Tree’s most Instagrammable sites

The aforementioned Skull Rock is a great one, and then there’s Arch Rock, a 30-foot-tall formation that’s a favorite of night photographers looking to capture the Milky Way on camera. Though it’s not technically in the park, it’s worth seeking out Giant Rock, an enormous, free-standing boulder that has a bizarre backstory involving Hopi shamans, an espionage conspiracy, and a UFO convention. You know, desert things.

Around sunrise or sunset, wander over to Keys View, the highest lookout point in Joshua Tree. Views look out across the Coachella Valley, and on clear days, you can see as far as the Salton Sea and Palm Springs. If you’re entering from the north, stop to check out the towering rock formations in Indian Cove, considered some of the best in the park.

Desert daggers are just the start. | JeniFoto/Shutterstock

Scope out the unparalleled plant and animal life

You’re probably familiar with the park’s tall and spiky namesake: the Yucca brevifolia, more commonly known as the Joshua tree. (In Spanish, the tree is known as izote de desierto, or desert dagger.) It’s important to remember that since these trees are endemic to this 1,235-square-mile expanse of desert, they’re strictly protected—so no touching!

Visit the Cholla Cactus Garden (at sunset, if you can swing it) to walk amongst hundreds of beautiful cholla. Swaying in the desert breeze, they almost resemble coral (and, much like coral, should be left alone). You’ll also probably spot the ocotillo plant, which is technically a succulent but is most closely related to blueberries and tea.

Joshua Tree National Park is more known for its flora than fauna, but there’s plenty of wildlife in and around the park. Birding is especially popular, with native species like roadrunners, raptors, and tons of migratory flocks. Predators like bobcats, coyotes, and snakes are also found in these parts, in addition to California’s state reptile, the desert tortoise.

Even beginners can get their climbing fix here. | Greg Epperson/Shutterstock

Find out why Joshua Tree is a rock climber’s paradise

Whether you’re new to climbing or navigate cliffs like a pro, Joshua Tree’s 9,000-plus climbing routes mean there’s something for every skillset. (We also feel the need to note that most of the routes have fantastic names like Yabba Dabba Don’t, Breakfast of Champions, Room to Shroom, Dangling Woo Li Master, and Possessed By Elvis.)

If you’re a beginner or intermediate climber, head over to the Quail Springs area, home to the affectionately named Trashcan Rock. One of the most popular climbing spots due to its relative ease (and cool shade that covers it during the afternoon), expect to wait in line for your go. Intersection Rock is also great for novices, while The Eye is one of the best for the views (it ends with a tunnel that opens up to sweeping shots of the desert).

If you want a challenge—seriously, these climbs will be intense—push your skills to the limit with Big Moe, a classic climb known to test even more experienced climbers; Lost Horse Wall, for some of the longest routes in the park; or make the 1,500-foot-steep scramble up Saddle Rock for great multi-pitch climbing.

Gear up at Joshua Tree Outfitters (their storefront is currently closed due to COVID-19, but equipment rentals and guide books are still available by appointment) or Nomad Ventures. If you think you’ll need some help navigating the climbs, consider hiring a guide from Cliffhanger Guidesor book a group rock climbing class with Vertical Adventures.

You’re looking at some of the clearest night skies in the country. | Digati Photography/Shutterstock

Settle in for some stargazing

Joshua Tree National Park is a silver-tier International Dark Sky Park, which means nighttime can be pretty extraordinary. Even though its location is pretty remote, the western part of the park gets a fair amount of light pollution from nearby Palm Springs. Stick to the central part of the park, especially along Pinto Basin Road—it’s the perfect place to admire the Big Dipper, Milky Way, and shooting stars.

Sleep in everything from a classic camper van or tent to a giant UFO. | Felicia Lee/Shutterstock

Where to lay your weary head at night

Of the 520 campsites in Joshua Tree National Park, about half are first-come, first-serve. The other half take reservations through Recreation.gov. It's notoriously difficult to score weekend spots, so during peak times, look for reservation-only campsites. Book the Cottonwood campground for stargazing, or White Tank Campground, which is dotted with some awe-inspiring rock formations that are millennia in the making.

If you’re more of an indoorsy person, Joshua Tree is famous for its off-the-wall Airbnbs, meaning you can sleep in, say, a giant UFO or a converted 1950s Spartan trailer.

Getting off-the-grid is part of the charm. | ThroughLensPhotosNVideos/Shutterstock

What to bring and other essential tips for visitors

Sunscreen and water are must-haves year-round. The National Park Service stresses that there are no water sources inside the park, so again, pack a lot of water—and then pack some more. Binoculars, sturdy hiking shoes, snacks, a flashlight, and hats are also recommended. If you find yourself in need of additional supplies, Coyote Corner, a combination gift shop and general store, sits just outside the park. They sell everything from camping supplies to locally-made goods.

To avoid being one of the approximately 60 search-and-rescue operations Joshua Tree has every year, it’s recommended to explore the park with a buddy and always let people know where you’re going. Cell phones don’t work in most of the park, so if communication is crucial, bring a satellite phone and a printed map to get around.

Over 80% of Joshua Tree is officially designated wilderness—emphasis on wild. Be respectful of wildlife to avoid an encounter with an angry critter. And if you remember one thing about your visit to Joshua Tree National Park, it should be “leave no trace.” Be sure to leave the park as pristine as you found it to help preserve its natural beauty for generations to come.

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Beth Demmon is a contributor for Thrillist.
Tiana Attride is a travel writer and editor based in New York. Follow her on Instagram.

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