Los Angeles to Joshua Tree Road Trip Guide


Escaping Los Angeles once in a while is a requisite for family bonding and an opportunity to sample some of the county’s many adventure opportunities. From mega city to desert isolation, you will experience some of everything on this one-day road trip.

Don't worry if you're short on time. California offers such a wide variety of attractions that you're bound to find something entertaining to do. In fact, the hardest part is likely to be fitting it all in to a single day. Of course, when you're traveling in an RV, you always have the option of staying somewhere for the night and extending your trip.

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Max RV length
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Road trip length: 1 days
Recommend rig: any
audience: family

Point of Interest

San Bernardino

If you grab your van early and hit the road, then this will be the perfect time to take a break and eat a hearty breakfast. Carolyn's cafe is a cozy restaurant that is renowned for serving a hearty breakfast. Their coffee cake is baked daily and served with whipped butter and should not be missed.

Skypark at Santa's Village

Forty minutes further up the road brings you to Skypark Santa's Village which is nestled in the San Bernardino Mountains. There are two distinct sections to this park. The mountain bike section offers three different levels of difficulty and several trails for each level. You can either hire bikes or bring your own.

The other option is the outdoor experience park. Here you have a range of adventure-based activities that the kids will love. The thirty-foot rock climbing tower takes you above the tree line and rewards the daring climber with views of the park. There is a sharpshooter gallery and even an area where you can practice (or acquire) ancient axe-throwing skills.

As if that were not enough, the zip line will fly you through the treetops in a manner that the most daring thrill-seeker will approve of. There, too, you have extraordinary views of the north woods below. For the smallest members of the family, there is a sensory discovery playground that includes an obstacle course and climbing web.

Lake Arrowhead

From the park, you are less than ten minutes from Lake Arrowhead. Here you will be able to enjoy a swim, rent a rowboat or ride the slides into the cool waters.

All of that activity is almost bound to have generated some hearty appetites. The Belgian Waffle Works has been open since 1982. Its outdoor patio benefits from beautiful lake views and your kids can choose from among seventeen different types of waffles, both savory and sweet. If waffles aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other options.

The Calico Ghost Town

The next leg of your excursion is a journey of ninety miles; just enough for the kids to be getting restless again.

The Calico ghost town was founded in 1881 and was once a silver mining town. Today it is abandoned but makes a brilliant museum which provides a window into a very different era when this town once thrived. The self-guided tour starts with a black light display demonstrating the different types of rock. After that, you descend a 1000 foot drift that shows how the miners worked and examines some of their daily lives.

You also get hands-on experience at panning for fool’s gold and anything you find, you get to take home with you. Finally, you can take a ten-minute train trip around the town on the Calico Odessey Railroad. On the train, you will be shown historical points and given a further explanation about a long lost way of life.


The final run to Joshua Tree will take you an hour and thirty-seven minutes. This national park is the meeting place of two distinct desert ecosystems and home to the famed Joshua Trees. If you have the time, you will be able to choose from a variety of different hikes as well as marvel at primitive prehistoric rock paintings.

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