Side Trips: Yucca Valley and Joshua Tree

Ready for a trip to the High Desert? Don’t miss these curious stops in Yucca Valley or Joshua Tree National Park and its Seussian trees.

October 14, 2022
Story by Staff Report
joshua tree national park

Joshua Tree National Park.
PHOTOGRAPH BY DANIELA STALLINGER

The national park known for fantastical rock formations and twisty Seussian trees can be accessed from either side of the valley. For a scenic drive through the High Desert, take Interstate 10 west to Highway 62 and Yucca Trail. While in the area, don’t miss these curious stops.

Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art Museum

In an open expanse of the Mojave Desert, abandoned objects like old tires, TVs, refrigerators, and broken toilets became this man’s treasure. Born in Alabama in 1917, Noah Purifoy was a longtime resident of Los Angeles before moving to Joshua Tree. He crafted his first sculpture with debris from the 1965 Watts riots. The late artist’s outdoor museum features more than 100 installations and is free to visit. noahpurifoy.com

Frontier Café

A rustic ambiance juxtaposes nicely with wholesome, modern fare at this pet-friendly coffee shop and bistro serving breakfast and lunch and catering to all dietary preferences. There’s an avocado tartine on levain with pickled onions, ajvar, and fresh herbs; a BLT with thick-cut bacon and herb mayo; and a variety of lattes, teas, and housemade lemonade. cafefrontier.com

worldfamouscrochetmuseum

PHOTOGRAPH BY JON CRAMER
World Famous Crochet Museum.

World Famous Crochet Museum

A whimsical menagerie of handmade critters fills this teeny trailer in Joshua Tree. Owner and artist Shari Elf does not crochet the animals herself but rather collects them for this little museum. The wacky space makes for a quick visit and an iconic Instagram backdrop. sharielf.com/ museum.html

Joshua Tree Saloon

Established in 1984, this no-frills saloon puts out a serious Old West vibe. Billiards and darts pair with lunch and dinner options including ribs, wings, ale-battered shrimp, burgers, and tacos. Family-friendly, the eatery makes an easy pit stop on your way into or out of the national park. joshuatreesaloon.com

Sky Village Swap Meet

Looking for a new pair of boots or a unique print to hang on your wall? Open every weekend, this 7-acre outdoor marketplace spotlights local vendors and artisans. It’s also home to Bob Carr’s Crystal Cave, a man-made cavern filled with thousands of hand-placed crystals and flowing water intended to calm the mind and soothe the soul. skyvillageswapmeet.com