Cool High Desert Offers Golf, Total Escape Package From Palm Springs Sizzle

Thirty-minute drive makes it easy to get away

Judd Spicer Attractions


With triple-digits soon to settle in, the time is nigh for desert dwellers to seek respite from the Greater Palm Springs sizzle.

Looking for an affordable day trip or weekend getaway with your playing partner, pals or family? How about a quick and easy travel to the High Desert, where a 30-minute drive lessens the temps by about 15 degrees and the golf, accommodations, and fare prove equally inviting.


Play: Hawk's Landing Golf Club at Blue Skies

Photo courtesy of Hawk’s Landing Golf Club at Blue Skies

The Hawk's Landing Golf Club is a 12-hole course designed by San Diego-based architect Cary Bickler.


Debuted in January, the former 18-hole Blue Skies Course in Yucca Valley doesn't simply make for a pleasant play – it may just represent the future of golf.

Now a 12-hole course designed by San Diego-based architect Cary Bickler, Hawk's Landing sports two, six-hole loops through an inviting, natural setting that lends itself to a round of under three hours and a routing which promotes walkability.

The 3,919 yard, par 47 card is still seeing maturation in spots (i.e, tee boxes), but large, welcoming greens and a host of clever holes weaving through the native area evidence ample potential.

The 543-yard, par-5 third hole is Hawk's longest flight, with a casual dogleg left that sports bunkering deep left. On the shorter side, the diminutive par 4s on Nos. 5, 7, and 10 will enliven the eye of the long-baller, but still keep those lower handicappers in check with some expertly-designed hazards that may have players clubbing down to consider playing for par instead of bombing for eagle.

Travel Tip: Pre or post round, get in a few more cuts at the excellent, 250-yard driving range. Already a hit with locals, the attractive range is well-targeted with colorful flags and markers.


Stay: Cabin at Pioneertown Pass

photos courtesy of ken and cindy crow

Take in the cabin’s natural setting.


When hunting for lodgings, my first trip to the high desert involved a time-consuming series of online searches across innumerable websites.

Scroll no more.

Last year, I randomly selected the Cabin at Pioneertown Pass for a night's getaway and couldn't have been more pleased with the offering. I recently returned for a three-night stay and my fondness for the cabin's tranquil mountain surrounds and homey flavor was only enhanced.

Just a few miles from Hawk's Landing (and 10-minutes from Joshua Tree for those who prefer hiking stick to golf sticks), the cabin is fit with a pleasing mix of modernity and rusticism. Your Direct TV, wi-fi, fridge, washer/dryer, gas grill, etc. are here for the comforts, but don't neglect the cabin's opportunities to bring (and pen) your horse for area exploration or to simply relax outside in the inviting hammock with a new book.

Travel Tip: For golfers, enhance your stay with a lesson from cabin owner and longtime PGA teaching professional Ken Crow. The swing tips can take place on-site and Crow, an amicable veteran desert pro and player, can stroll on over with a mat and some balls to oversee swing study right outside the cabin door.


Dine, Drink and Dance: Pappy & Harriet's

photo courtesy of pappy & harriet's

Be sure to call ahead at Pappy & Harriet’s, where the reputation for fine fare precedes itself.


You'll come for the rock and stay for the ribs.

Longtime desert residents have undoubtedly heard about the aptly-popular venue in Pioneertown. While Pappy & Harriet's is revered for presenting the most diverse live music scene this side of L.A., visitors should also be well-aware that the food plays on tune with the bands.

While the menu includes kids and vegetarian options along with a host of staples, it's not hyperbole to state that these ribs (whether you opt for the full or ½ rack) are without question the best in the region. With a slightly-cinnamon flavored rub and a homemade sauce that compliments with a subtle tang and spice, the made-to-order plating is cooked right outside over a mesquite grill coupled with the on-site smoker to give a perfect, woody flavoring for meat which falls off the bone.

Travel Tip: Whether you're a party of two or heading up with the family, just be safe and call ahead at least a week in advance for a reservation.

For further information on these High Desert locales:

Hawk's Landing Golf Club at Blue Skies
 55100 Martinez Trail
Yucca Valley, CA 92284

The Cabin at Pioneertown Pass
Call: Cindy Crow at 760-365-6708
Text: Cindy Crow at 760-861-9335

Pappy & Harriet's
53688 Pioneertown Road
Pioneertown, CA 92268
(Note the establishment is open Thursday through Monday)


Judd Spicer is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America. Have a golf tip or golf story idea to share? E-mail Judd: [email protected].

Follow Judd on Twitter: @JuddSpicer

See Judd's previous posts under Life on the Links.


Like what you're reading? Then "Like" us on Facebook and "follow" us on Twitter.