Desert | California

Highs and Lows: Furnace Creek to Anza Borrego

Travel from the lowest spot in North America to pine-topped peaks on an epic desert drive.

Trip length: 4 days, Total distance: 428mi/689km


death-valley-national-parkDAY 1

FURNACE CREEK Start at Death Valley National Park’s excellent visitor center and museum. Head out to hike sand dunes or take a guided tour of ultra-odd Scotty’s Castle. INFO Death Valley National Park

BADWATER (21mi/33km). Pose for pictures next to the sign marking 282 feet below sea level, then explore the sparkling salt flats. INFO Death Valley National Park

BARSTOW (164mi/264km). See a film at Skyline Drive-In, a kitschy icon since 1966. Learn about the “Mother Road” at Route 66 Museum. INFO Barstow Chamber of Commerce

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joshua tree national parkDAY 2

YUCCA VALLEY (80mi/129km). Visit vintage shops in this surprisingly artsy town. Sip iced lattes at stylish Cafe Ma Rouge. INFO Yucca Valley Chamber of Commerce

JOSHUA TREE (8mi/12km). Stop by Coyote Corner, with funky souvenirs and outdoor gear. Healthy fare or decadent flaky pie? You choose at friendly Crossroads Cafe. INFO Joshua Tree Chamber of Commerce

JOSHUA TREE NP (5mi/8km). Scramble around on this national park’s dramatic monzogranite formations, or take lessons (kids welcome) with Joshua Tree Rock Climbing School. INFO Joshua Tree National Park

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DAY 3

INDIO (32mi/52km). Visit a 1926 adobe and learn about local pioneers at Coachella Valley History Museum. Sip date shakes at Shields Date Garden. INFO Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau

PALM SPRINGS (23mi/37km). Climb to pine-topped peaks aboard Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. See vintage WWII planes at Palm Springs Air Museum and desert animals from around the globe at The Living Desert. INFO Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau

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Borrego Springs iron work by M SipeDAY 4

LA QUINTA (25mi/40km). Shop or spa at legendary La Quinta Resort; golfers can take on the PGA West Stadium Course, one of the nation’s toughest public courses. INFO Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau

ANZA-BORREGO DESERT SP (70mi/112km). Explore this enormous state park on a guided driving tour (California Overland has kid-cool converted military trucks). INFO Anza Borrego Desert State Park

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