Set Up Camp

Get away from it all in a few hours or less



Mount San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness Area

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

More than 100 years ago, naturalist John Burroughs wrote, “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses
put in order.”

Little has changed. People still seek out the solitude of the natural world, finding solace in the surrounding flora and fauna. Camping is a great way to step off the rat-race treadmill for a couple of days and reconnect with your inner Thoreau. Here are a few suggestions for camping in surrounding parks and recreation areas.

MOUNTAIN 

Imagine trekking through the wilderness with everything you need strapped to your back. After maneuvering fragrant switchbacks rich with the bracing scent of pine needles, you enter a meadow ringed with majestic white fir and sugar pine. You select a primitive campsite with no running water, electricity, or other cosmopolitan comforts and drop your figurative and literal load. You are camping within the Mount San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness Area, accessible by foot from the Mountain Station of Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. This nature getaway is best suited for seasoned hikers and experienced backpackers.

There are six primitive campgrounds within the park. The closest to the Mountain Station (2.1 miles) is picturesque Round Valley with 28 campsites, water, and pit toilets. Tamarack Valley (2.5 miles) offers 12 campsites with limited water supply and pit toilets. Skunk Cabbage (4.5 miles) features a large meadow and water at Willow Creek. Good camping is available at Lower Basin (6.0 miles), with water available seasonably from Tahquitz Creek. Little Round Valley (6.5 miles) has six campsites with limited water supply and pit toilets. Moving deeper into the park, Strawberry Junction (10.3 miles) features three campsites, pit toilets, and no water.

A permit is required for any backpacking or hiking in the wilderness area. Visit www.pstramway.com or call 951-659-2607 for permit and other information. For trail conditions, call 760-327-0222.

DESERT  

If desert camping is more your style, Joshua Tree National Park offers many campgrounds. Drive your gear up to your favorite site and spread out. In the evening as you sit by the fire, listen for the howl of coyotes and watch the light dance among the rocks. 

Whether you choose Hidden Valley, popular with climbers due to its proximity to some of the park’s best routes, or the stunning Jumbo Rocks, so named for its labyrinth of large boulders, you can easily find a campground that’s right for you.

Most sites are limited to six people, three tents, and two cars. Campsites feature a picnic table and fire grate. Water and flush toilets are available at Black Rock and Cottonwood campgrounds only. Showers are not available. Water is available at the Oasis Visitor Center, Indian Cove Ranger Station, West Entrance, and Black Rock and Cottonwood campgrounds. Sites at Black Rock and Indian Cove campgrounds may be reserved through May 31 by calling 877-444-6777. First-come, first-served campgrounds include Belle, Cottonwood, Hidden Valley, Jumbo Rocks, Ryan, and White Tank. Visit www.nps.gov/jotr or www.joshua.tree.national-park.com for more information or call 760-367-5500.

URBAN  

Some folks like to get away knowing civilization and convenience stores are nearby. Lake Cahuilla Recreation Area offers 710 acres with 91 individual and group campsites situated at the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains. Only six miles from Old Town La Quinta, Lake Cahuilla is a great destination for casual car campers looking for a quick escape from city life.

Activities at the recreation area include fishing in the 135-acre lake (watercraft not permitted), hiking and horseback trails, and a swimming pool. Open grass areas with picnic tables and barbecues are ideal for special events, from company gatherings to birthday parties. Showers are available and pets allowed. For more information, call 760-564-4712 or visit www.rivcoparks.org/parks/lake-cahuilla.

Add your comment:
Edit Module
Desert Guide
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

SilverRock Resort's Randy Duncan Solid as a Rock Amidst Changes

Randy Duncan, SilverRock Resort’s general manager and director of golf, has been a fixture amidst as renovations to the course and now talk of hotel expansion has brought all kinds of buzz to the La Quinta course.

Desert by Design

Palm Desert architect Guy Dreier’s nature-inspired approach to residential design was an ideal fit when The Vintage Club made its debut in 1980 at the foot of Eisenhower Mountain.

The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage Offers New Year's Eve Extravagance

If your idea of the perfect New Year's Eve involves a quintessentially modern desert experience with ultimate pampering, The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage has a room in mind.

Toscana Country Club's North Course Shaping Up to be Desert Marvel

Scheduled to debut in November of 2015, Toscana Country Club's North Course designed by legend Jack Nicklaus will mark the desert's first championship course opening since 2007.

The Fazio Factor

Tom Fazio's first two golf courses designed in the Coachella Valley, The Desert and The Mountain at The Vintage Club, marked the birth of a new standard of excellence in country club living.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions + Contests

Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.
Fashionista Friends

Fashionista Friends

Experience the glitz and glamour of Fashion Week El Paseo 2015.
2014/15 Best of the Best

2014/15 Best of the Best

Palm Springs Life’s annual Best of the Best. Readers tell us who their choice is for the “Best of the Best” of the Coachella Valley in over 40 categories.
Edit ModuleShow Tags