The most northerly of the desert region's three new national monuments designated in 2016, Castle Mountains is wrapped on three sides by Mojave National Preserve. At just shy of 21,000 acres, it’s the smallest of the three monuments. But smaller doesn’t mean less noteworthy. The focal point is Castle Peaks, a cluster of epic spires that soar skyward like the ramparts of an ancient fortress. At the mountains’ feet lie some of the Mojave Desert’s best grasslands, plus sweeping dense forests of twisted junipers and Joshua trees, a type of yucca that looks like it jumped straight out of a Dr. Seuss story.
The area is a treasure trove of human history too. Native American archeological sites have been discovered here, and the historic gold mining town of Hart hints of the challenges of living in the desert’s harsh conditions. These and other finds offer a fascinating glimpse into this surprisingly diverse and beautiful preserve.
The thwack of a golf club, the hum of the wind buffeting towering sand dunes, the splash of a dive into a perfect pool—the desert region is a sensory feast.
Following winter rains, springtime wildflowers paint the desert with colour.
Death Valley National Park holds the record for hottest temperature ever recorded (129°F/54°C in 1913), while the deserts of Joshua Tree National Park have giant boulders and alien-like yucca plants. At Anza-Borrego, California’s largest state park, discover amazing springtime wildflowers. The oasis-like Palm Springs region (2 hours east of L.A. and 3 hours northeast of San Diego) has golf resorts, midcentury modern architecture, and every spring, the epic Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
For all of the desert’s natural splendor and outdoor destinations, creativity comes with the territory, too. Throughout the year, the region finds ways to celebrate art, design, music, and film...