CALIFORNIA SECRETS: Why has this patch of desert inspired so many people?

From a U2 album to the Coachella music festival - you may not have realised it but you've definitely heard of California's Joshua Tree National Park rocks.

From a U2 album to the Coachella music festival – you may not have realised it but you’ve definitely heard of California’s Joshua Tree National Park rocks.

A whole generation of music fans has taken the road trip to the stark beauty of Joshua Tree National Park based on the artwork of U2’s seminal album The Joshua Tree.

A generation before that, the park was famous as being the place where blues-rock legend Gram Parsons died – and where his manager and friend later tried to bury him after stealing his body from a morgue (see the Johnny Knoxville movie, Grand Theft Parsons).


The ethereal quality of this moonscape, where Colorado and Mojave deserts collide, is just a few hours drive from Los Angeles and inspires a lot of passion in people.



Dubbed the “mother road” by famous writers and featuring in a legion of rock songs, the iconic Route 66 is the road to take to Joshua Tree National Park.

Route 66 is the road of dreams, the road that people followed to make their dreams come true in California where anything could happen.

The ‘Historic Route 66’ was built in 1926 and ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before ending at Santa Monica in Los Angeles covering a total of 3,940 km.

66 underwent many improvements over its lifetime, and it was officially removed from the United States Highway System in 1985.

Now a lot of the original road has been re-routed or changed but if you look close you can still see the remnants of one of the most famous road trips in the world.




Organise a hiking tour via Joshua Tree Adventures to get into the heart of the park.

A tailored walk can take you to a remote oasis of palm trees, some of the most incredible rock formations so intricate that they start to form shapes in front of your eyes like you are watching clouds, and historic haunts of the First People.

The rock formations are ideal for keen climbers with the boulders offering climbs for all skill levels.




Go Wild West at the Pioneertown Motel, which was built for western film star Roy Rogers so that he and actors could stay when they filmed in the much-loved desert, where you could ride a horse off into the stunning sunsets.

The motel still has a wild-west feel wooden beams and throw rugs in the colours of surrounding countryside.

Make sure you get up early to catch an unforgettable sunrise.


READ: Pick your place in California’s Lake Tahoe

READ: NATURE’S PLAYGROUND: Californian National Parks you must see to believe

Have you ever hit the road on Route 66?