Adventurous solo traveler Kristin Addis of Be My Travel Muse grew up near Los Angeles and has explored exotic countries around the world, but the blogger still discovered sites that surprised her on her recent road trip that included San Bernadino County, Lone Pine, Death Valley National Park, and Joshua Tree National Park. Follow her road trip itinerary here, and read below for the highlights of her recent adventure.
1. What was the top highlight of your trip to California?
That’s a tough one because it was all so great, but I was really blown away by Death Valley in particular. I had no idea that there were salt flats like that and such impressive badlands so close to where I grew up!
2. Which picture or social media post best sums up your trip and why?
Probably this stargazing one [below], because the night sky in the desert is unreal and I made it a point to stargaze every single night.
3. How would you describe the drive from Los Angeles to Alabama Hills and Lone Pine?
It’s pretty cool to see how quickly you get from civilization into the desert and wide-open spaces. You’ll start to see Joshua trees and will transition into two-lane streets pretty quickly. Manzanar [Historical Site] is worth a stop for a peek into some pretty important American history. I was reminded of reading the book Farewell to Manzanar, about a girl living in the Japanese internment camp there, and it was pretty crazy to see how close it actually is to home. I think this is a part of American history that a lot of people probably know very little about.
4. What would you recommend doing when visiting Death Valley National Park and The Oasis at Death Valley?
Seriously visit everything in Death Valley! I wish I could’ve spent a whole week there. My favorite area is the Golden Canyon. Hike the entire loop beginning and ending at Zabriskie Point and definitely stop at the Red Cathedral. This probably goes without saying, but it’s the hottest desert on earth, so be aware of that in the warmer months!
5. What did you discover that you loved in Mojave National Preserve?
I had no idea that there were such big sand dunes in the Mojave Desert! It was so cool to be able to climb up them and feel like I was in Namibia for a moment. There is more than one area with dunes, but the Kelso Dunes are the most accessible, particularly if you don’t have a 4x4 vehicle.
6. How would you spend a perfect day in Joshua Tree National Park?
For me, the beauty of the desert is when it comes alive at night. I would track the appearance of the Milky Way, along with when the moon would set, and catch the sunset, and then go back out to the 29 Palms Inn for dinner—their food is delicious—and then head back in to stargaze and photograph at night. To me, prime time in the desert is when the stars are out.
7. Why would you recommend the locations you visited to other road trippers? Any tips?
I would recommend absolutely everywhere I went. It was all overwhelmingly beautiful and it was pretty incredible to get to know my home state better. Even if you grew up in California like I did, there are probably things on this list you have never seen or maybe never even heard of! I can’t wait to explore more.