Uncovering the Hidden Wonders of Joshua Tree

On the hunt for activities to enjoy during your stay in Joshua Tree? Well, look no further. From shopping and art galleries to hidden surprises and sightseeing spots—Joshua Tree has so much to offer.

Our Top Five Must See Moments:


Visit a Wild West Movie Set turned city: Pioneertown. In 1946, actor Dick Curtis set out to create a “living breathing movie set”. With the help of investments from his Western Movie pals (including Roy Rogers) they purchased 32,000 acres of land that would become Pioneertown. Instead of building just facades of a western backdrop—they established legitimate businesses, ranches, and a real post office in the town. It became backdrop to over 200 movies, and while demands for Western backdrops have dwindled—it still sees action today. You can visit Pioneertown 365 days of the year and experience the charm of a “Hoof N’ Foot” only main street. Now a hub filled with shopping, restaurants, and live music-- it’s not to be missed! Drop by the local watering hole, Pappy & Harriets for a pint and soak in the history of the town!

**photo from whimsysoul.com


Acoustic perfection! Stunning architecture! Chance of alien encounters! What more could you want? The Integratron is an energy machine built in the 1950s by George Van Tassel. Whether you’re looking for spiritual healing, are a hardened sceptic, or are hoping for otherworldly sightings— visitors are encouraged to come and discover the potential of this machine for themselves. The dome-shaped building is designed with copper coils embedded in it which act as receivers of cosmic energy from the sun, moon and stars. The facility hosts sounds baths and meditation if you want to soak in the energy and tranquility the building and setting provide. At night, people often report seeing strange lights emanating from within the dome itself – some say these are UFOs or other supernatural phenomena. There’s something for everyone under the dome of the Integratron!

**photo from joshuatree.guide

Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art Museum:

Just a ten minute walk from Diamond Sky Retreat is Noah Purifoy’s awe-inspiring collection of large-scale found-object sculptures. Purifoy led a remarkable life dedicated to using art to bring about change. His earliest sculpture was constructed out of charred debris from the 1965 Watts Rebellion. His sculptures continued to tell powerful stories and eventually led him to initiate programs that brought art into the California state prison system. He lived his last fifteen years in Joshua Tree creating acres of large-scale sculptures. It’s one of the great historical artistic installations of California—and it’s right in our backyard!

**photo from The Noah Purifoy Foundation

Giant Rock:

Not just “A” giant rock but “THE” Giant Rock. The seven story boulder that has been known to pique the interest of UFO fanatics, spiritualists, and engineers alike. This Indigenous spiritual site has been sought out for thousands of years. In the 1930’s a pair of friends set their sights on creating a cavern underneath the rock. As events played out- it soon because the site of a police raid, accidental explosion, an airport, and an alien meditation hub that sparked the concept that became The Integratron. Be sure to read up on the full wild and wonderful story on your way to visit the Giant Rock and be cautious as the roads can be precarious. Drive safely, bring water, and proceed with caution.

**photo by Erin Johnson

High Desert Test Sites:

Centered around art and experiences— since opening in 2002 High Desert Test Sites has hosted the work of more than 460 artists, 12 expansive site-specific programs, and 25 solo projects. Located on an 80-acre compound and founded by A-Z West Artist Andrea Zittel, HDTS seeks to “enable us to step outside everyday life and envision new possibilities”. HDTS offers two tours per month of A-Z West as a key source of income for their programs. You’ll need to book in advance and can do so on their website here. https://www.azwestworks.com/tours

**photo from AFAR.com

Shopping in and around Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree Shopping:

Sun Alley Shops in Joshua Tree is a great place to shop for unique items. A collection of eclectic artists in the closest thing to a “mall” we’d recommend visiting while on vacation. Space Cowboy is JT’s premiere bookshop and Sheila B Jewelry is a great spot to snag a gift.

61871 Twentynine Palms Highway, Joshua Tree, CA 92252

Since 2011, the Joshua Tree Farmer's Market has been an integral part of the local community Saturdays from 8am-2pm on Park Boulevard & White Feather Road. Each week, Downtown Joshua Tree come alive with vendors selling freshly picked produce and homemade jams, honey products, baked goods like pies and cookies made using local ingredients that can't be found anywhere else. Pickup ingredients for a delicious homemade dinner, and pick up a few extra jars of honey to bring back to your loved ones!

**photo from California Welcome Center

At first glance you might mistake The Station for a place to fuel up your car, but don’t let it’s converted 1949 Richfield Service Station exterior fool you. It’s now a quirky and welcoming pit-stop for souvenirs, t-shirts, vintage goods, gifts, and more! You’ll be impressed with their large selection of Mexican blankets and charmed by their art-prints for sale. https://thestationjoshuatree.com/

Yucca Valley Shopping:

Just down the road in Yucca Valley wander into Mojave Flea Trading Post to wander 10k+ square feet of goods by local artists from the Coachella Valley and beyond. From housewares to clothing to plants this is a great place to pick up a treat for yourself.

55727 Twentynine Palms Highway, Yucca Valley, CA 92284 | https://shoptradingpost.com/

**photo from visitpalmsprings.com

Continuing wandering down from Mojave Flea and you’ll find a plethora of great vintage clothing, antiques, coffee shops, and home décor. Some favorite spots are Acme 5 Lifestyle, Pioneer Crossing Antiques, and Luna Bakery for a pre-shopping treat.

And on Saturdays check out the Yucca Valley Flea Market from 7a-3p at the intersection of Hwy 62 and Old Woman Springs Rd. It features many local artisans and is not to be missed!

**photo from palmspringslife.com

29 Palms Shopping:

Twentynine Palms packs an impressive number of thrift shops into their relatively small downtown area. Visit Doc’s Genuine World Military when you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and dig for buried treasure amongst heaps of vintage military garb and ephemera.

If you’re looking for a more curated experience, visit Hi-Desert Daydream, a boutique featuring local artisans from woodworkers to espresso roasters to clothing and apothecary products. It feels like you’ve stepped into the official gift shop of glamping (we love it).

And don’t sleep on Desert General, which provides anything but boring basics and some really well curated gifts to boot. Thinking: Picking up a replacement canteen for the one you forgot at home while also snagging cool stickers to put on it and a crystal for good luck.


At Diamond Sky Retreat

Quirky Pit-Stops & Photo-Ops

Have you met Murtle the Turtle

Right off the side of Twenty Nine Palms Highway in Joshua Tree sits the World’s Largest Desert Tortoise Statue. That’s right—Murtle the Turtle is actually a Tortoise (and yes, we’re spelling Murtle correctly). You’ll find her across from the Joshua Tree Farmer’s Market and for a time, she was just a wire and plaster sculpture in a 1957 parade, she later became full concrete and a permanent fixture in the city of Joshua Tree. We’re big fans and think Murtle makes for a great Photo-Op while you’re in town.   

It's world famous, it’s itty-bitty, it’s… The World Famous Crochet Museum

It’s delightfully quirky lime-green exterior is enough to lure you over to see what’s going on, and after one peek into the windows you’ll be a fan for life. Created and run by Art Queen Sheri Elf (more on her below) we’re willing to bet this is the first museum of crocheted animals you’ve visited but it will leave you wondering why they aren’t more common. Find it tucked amongst the Sun Alley Shops and enjoy.

**photo by Samir S. Patel

Natural Wonders of Joshua Tree

Some hike for the expansive views and vistas, some hike for the thrill of reaching the peak, some hike for exercise alone—and a few are seeking novelty that cannot be found on just any trail. And for those few, we’re excited to share the most interesting natural wonders you can hike to within Joshua Tree National Park. From Slot Canyons to Skull Shaped Rocks to A view of Mexico (really!) here are some of our favorite hidden natural treasures.

The first and perhaps most well known wonder is Skull Rock. This incredible formation looks like it was plucked right out of a cartoon, with its large eyes and protruding jawbone. The best time to visit is during sunset when the orange-red hues make it look even more spectacular. It's also great for stargazing since it’s located near one of the darkest spots in California – making it perfect for viewing constellations and planets. You’ll find it along the main east-west park road and it’s one of the only wonders you can see from your car if you so choose!

**photo from roadtosomethingnew.com

Next up is Keys View, which offers panoramic views over Coachella Valley and Salton Sea as well as glimpses into Mexico on clear days. On your way to Keys View, you can also stop by Barker Dam Nature Trail—a 1-mile loop rich with local wildlife such as coyotes, roadrunners, bighorn sheep and bobcats.

**photo from National Park Service

For those seeking an adrenaline rush head to Hidden Valley Trail where you can explore vast boulder fields while navigating narrow passages between rocks at varying heights - making sure not to get stuck. If bouldering isn't your thing then try climbing some of the famous rocks around here like Arch Rock or Intersection Rock – both offer amazing views from their peak, but is best suited for intermediate to advanced level hikers. For Trails suited for every skill level, check out our hikes and trails page.

**photo by HighLifeViews

Art Galleries in Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree Art Gallery:

A contemporary fine art gallery located in Downtown Joshua Tree that is known for it’s monthly rotating collections from local artists. Known as JTAG, you’ll find everything from painting, to sculpture and photography. Located next to the west entrance to Joshua Tree National Park, it’s central to the community of JT in more ways than just location. It’s open Friday-Sunday and exhibits are always rotating, head to their website to see what is currently showing. https://www.mbcac.org/pages/gallery

Art Queen:

Purveyor of delightfully quirky animal themed artwork and the owner of The World Famous Crochet Museum—Sheri Elf is a local icon. A staple within the Sun Alley Shops, Art Queen features her works from painted rocks, to found-art wall hangings. Her works will encourage you to embrace the desert spirit of relaxing and appreciating nature and your surroundings. In addition to her art, Sheri is a singer-songwriter and seamstress. You simply must swing by to see what she’s got going on at Art Queen! (Located within the Sun Alley Shops) You won’t need to go very far to find another great gallery…

La Matadora Gallery:

If you’re a fan of post-modern art La Matadora is a must-see. Pushing the boundaries of mediums and textures, the art ranges from colorful collages to witchy portraits and always remains something you’ll “only find in Joshua Tree” that you’re definitely going to want to take home with you. You’ll find La Matadora within The Sun Alley Shops by Art Queen.

*photo from talesfromthetrash.com

Honorable Mentions:

This list is getting long (can you tell we love Joshua Tree) but we can’t leave out these local favorites.

Coyote Corner – Downtown Joshua Tree

Around the Corner (literally) from the Sun Alley Shops is Coyote Corner—a one-stop-shop for souvenirs, the stuff you forgot to pack, and fun novelties like “Cactus Candy”

Cactus Mart – Morongo Valley

Plan your return triop around swinging through Cactus Mart for a “Pick Your Own” Cactus experience. If you’re in the market for a prickly friend (big or small) or even artwork, gifts, and other trinkets – Cactus Mart makes for a fabulous pit-stop on your way out of town.

Glass Outhouse Art Gallery – Twentynine Palms

A quirky roadside wonder made up of a glass outhouse showcasing rotating artworks and a chapel. Along the property you’ll be in found-object-artwork heaven as farm animals, dragons, and even pirates lead your way around. 77575 Twentynine Palms Highway, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277

The End – Yucca Valley

Fancy yourself a visit to the most colorful vintage oasis you’ve ever seen? Thought so. You won’t miss the funky exterior murals as you pull up and inside you’ll find a bounty of treasures including “The End Is Here” t-shirts that are just too good to skip.

Harrison House Music, Arts, and Ecology – Joshua Tree

This residency/performance program for gifted artists and thinkers was established in memory of the late Composer Lou Harrison on his desert retreat in Joshua Tree. They host a variety of events from concerts to ecology retreats to film screenings—find out what’s coming up on their website: https://louharrisonhouse.org/events/

Joshua Tree Retreat Center – Joshua Tree

Also known as the institute of “Mentalphysics” the beautiful campus is worth a visit even if you’re not looking to dive into their more immersive programs. Head to their Caffe for a vegan lunch and check out their calendar for one-off events like a breathwork workshop or soundbath. https://jtrcc.org/calendar/

Hey There Projects – Joshua Tree

A growing gallery and store located in the heart of Joshua Tree. Find works from local artists, and an extensive collection of prints from past works available as well. Along with prints find books, gifts, wearables, ceramics, and more in their adjacent shop! https://www.heythereprojects.com/

Brewja Elixirs – Joshua Tree

Are you into teas, wellness, and trying new things? Brewja is the place for you. This experiential tea bar and store offers beverages with adaptogens, hemp, and fungi. Grab a hot tea while you shop or take elixirs for the road to try out later. https://www.brewjaelixir.com/

With its vast array of activities, Joshua Tree is sure to offer something that will pique your curiosity. From shopping and art galleries, to the Integratron experience and hidden surprises of this desert oasis - there's no shortage of activities for those looking for a unique getaway. Whether you want an adventure or just some peace and quiet, Joshua Tree has it all. So don't wait any longer - start planning your trip today.

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