A Sign of the Times, Vacationing in Coachella Valley

We love spending time visiting Coachella Valley in December, visiting friends and family. Only no one was going in 2020. We had to get out, so we packed up the car and headed west for a two week road trip anyway. In our planning for the trip, we knew some of the things we normally do would not be open. However, our favorite thing to do wherever we vacation, is visit National and State parks. This was still an option.

We stopped in West Texas and Arizona for rest and to visit friends, but our ultimate destination was a vacation rental in Indio central to several parks. Shortly after we arrived, California went on a serious lock-down. We even got an emergency alert on our first hike. That night, we had a nice dinner at one of our favorite outdoor dining spots, then stocked up on groceries. We would spend the rest of our time hiking and picnicking during the day, then cooking meals hunkered down at “home” each night.

One of our first day trips was Anzo – Borrego Desert State Park near Borrego Springs, CA. The highlights from that day were a siltstone canyon hike called “The Slot” and a stop by Galleta Meadows in Borrego Springs to see just a few of the 130 large metal sculptures by artist Ricardo Breceda.

Hikers in “The Slot.”
Me beside some horses by Ricardo Breceda.

The next day we drove to Idyllwild and stopped at Coachella Valley Vista Point along the way. I always take a photo of my husband while he takes photos.

My husband the photographer.

We visited Joshua Tree National Park National Park the following day. We have been there many times, but always see something new. Certainly the social distancing instructions for hikers were new! We also hiked the trail at White Tank Camp Ground for the first time (a great easy hike) and visited the Jumbo Rocks Camp Grounds, which was closed to campers (so deserted.)

White Tank Camp Ground Trail
A leaning Joshua Tree
The Amphitheater at Jumbo Rocks Camp Ground.

As usual, we took thousands of photographs on this trip, but wanted to share a few examples of why Coachella Valley, CA is one of our favorite #Vacation Spots! What are your favorite vacation spots?

30 thoughts on “A Sign of the Times, Vacationing in Coachella Valley

  1. Hi Tracey! I think you timed that trip perfectly. As I look back to the beginning of the lock-down, I remember there were so many unknowns as the scientists were trying to figure things out. Of course, it turns out that being outdoors was one of the safest places to be. I love the area you were in also. The otherworldly Joshua Trees, the magnificent Breceda sculptures, and the peaceful dessert landscape.


  2. Tracey I’m so glad you and Mark were able to get away last December and enjoy one of our favourite places too! You two are the last to spend any time at our place. We cannot wait for border to open so we can make it back. ❤️


    • It’s sad that this has been going on for so long. Your home there is lovely. I hate to think of it all alone! Also looking forward to the border opening so we can see everyone!


  3. Joshua Tree National Park is so cool. As you said return trips can still find new areas to explore! Love the weather down in that valley – it’s so consistent and warm. I haven’t seen those sculptures – very interesting. Thanks for sharing.


  4. This post should be titled “how to vacation during a pandemic,” Tracey! Sounds like you handled it well and still made family memories. In all the years I lived in California, I never made it to Joshua Tree. However, I did visit the Coachella Valley near Veterans’ Day in 2018, to visit three blogger friends. We drove down from Sacramento and stayed in San Diego and I drove up to Palm Desert. It was a blast and etched in my memories with Janis, Donna, and Kathy! I can see why this area is your favorite. The is something so cleansing about the desert. Love that pic of you with the horse sculptures! Thanks for linking up this week and see you back on June 6th.


    • It’s worth another trip if you can make it. Very different from the Pacific Northwest, but beautiful in it’s own way. I met Janis in San Diego last February! Thanks for your kind comments!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love your photos from Joshua Tree in particular! When we were there it was far too hot to hike so we never strayed far from the parking lots – I would love to go back at a better time of year 🙂


  6. You’re our hero! We had our first conversation just yesterday about taking a trip this summer, something that at the start of the year we figured would not happen until next year. So we’re looking to you guys as mentors for sure.

    On our cross-country drive from Oregon to Florida back in 2014, we saw tourist signs for Billy The Kid’s gravesite. We didn’t stop because we were pulling a trailer using our small Toyota and didn’t want to take detours. But we still talk about driving west to see it, if nothing else for kitsch value. 🙂

    Great pictures, everywhere you visited looks beautiful. – Marty


    • Awww, thanks Marty! Being in charge of all aspects of our transportation made this seem very doable. Next, we researched hotels along the way and picked a couple that had high ratings for COVID compliance. We were very impressed with Holiday In Express, for example, who were really taking this thing seriously. In addition to our luggage, we had 2 big coolers with us and pretty much anything we thought we might need. It was pretty empowering and we had a great time. I probably should have included this type of info in my blog, but feeling lazy!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Sunday Stills: Being #Celestial – Second Wind Leisure Perspectives

  8. Love your photos…that one rock looks kind of like a whale. In 2018 I went to Palm Desert with my hubby for a work conference. We went on a few hikes, walked around the towns and we did drive around Indio a bit. I was trying to find some murals but never found them, and he’s not a “wanderer”..lol.


    • It does look like a whale! There’s a large collection of murals in Twenty-nine Palms, but we still haven’t seen those. Always something to go back to see later!


  9. Beeeautiful photos Tracey!

    This is the perfect adventure for the pandemic (all our holidays last year were similar… not too far from home, camping and hiking) But wowza- this is such an incredible and varied area to explore. I LOVE those rock formations and the way the desert light makes everything shine.


  10. This looks like the perfect pandemic get-a-way – your own private space and lots of outdoor activity. We have not visited that part of the US but it looks beautiful. I love the photo you took of your husband taking a photo of the landscape. Malcolm always does that too. Great photos. Does your husband have an Instagram account? Would love to see more.


  11. Tracey, I’m ashamed to admit that in 35 years of living in California and driving around the state for work and pleasure, I’ve never been to any of those places. Your pictures and narration made for an enjoyable virtual vacation. Thanks so much. 🙂


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