Joshua Tree is a large city in southern California with a population of about 7,500 residents. Spread across the Mojave Desert, you will have plenty of open spaces to enjoy. With an average high of 80 and an average low of 52, you will definitely want to get out and explore. If you want to learn more about the history of the area, stop at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum where you can see hundreds of artifacts and exhibits.
The whole family will have fun at the Cabazon Dinosaurs Adventure in Cabazon, where you can take a tour through an exhibit featuring more than 50 dinosaur sculptures. They also have activities for the kids like panning for fossils, digging for dinosaurs, and climbing inside Mr. Rex the T-Rex. To see some live animals, stop by the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens where they have 55 different species from the addax to the yellow-footed wallaby.
Of course, the main attraction in Joshua Tree is the Joshua Tree National Park. This 800,000-acre park has a variety of ecosystems supporting thousands of wild critters like mule deer, foxes, black bears, coyotes, and many more. Joshua Tree National Park is also home to about 750 species of plants and trees. Many wildflowers bloom here all year long, making it a beautiful place to take a hike with your camera. Don’t forget to take a selfie with one of the many Joshua Trees in the park before heading on to your next stop.
About an hour down CA-111, the Salton Sea State Recreation Area is a fantastic spot to enjoy all types of activities. Having a sea in the middle of the desert is special and unique. In fact, the Salton Sea is one of the largest inland seas in the world and one of the lowest spots on earth at -222 feet below sea level. The park itself has over 14 miles of shoreland for fishing, swimming, boating, and other water activities. You will likely see many surfers and paddleboarders in the sea as well.
Fishing is really popular at Salton Sea State Recreation Area with anglers looking for tilapia and other saltwater fish. There is no limit on how many you can catch and keep, which is one reason why the park is so popular with anglers. Boating is especially fun as well due to the high salt levels making boats more buoyant. However, make sure you follow the speed limits.
Take the family on a hike along the nature trail that loops around the campgrounds or just hike along the beach as far as you like. Then come back and hit the beach to cool off. There are three beaches in the park as well, so don’t forget to pack the sunscreen and beach toys. Afterward, you can have a bite to eat at one of the picnic areas before getting back on the road.
You can make it to Brawley, California in less than an hour heading down CA-111. Located at the southern tip of the state in Imperial County, almost 25,000 people call this small city their home. Agriculture is the main economic attribute in the city and every year they hold a Cattle Call Rodeo, which is a big event here. In fact, the annual affair brings in over 50,000 visitors every year.
But the one thing you will really notice if you come down during the summer months is the heat. Typically, the high temperatures are upward of 105 degrees from June through August. Bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and cool clothes. Take the family to the Alyce Gereax Park to cool off in the water features. The splash pad is 6,000 square feet of fun for everyone. They also have a playground, basketball courts, and picnic areas.
If you want to do some off-roading in the dunes, head over to the Imperial Sand Dunes. These dunes were formed thousands of years ago from the ancient Lake Cahuilla and spread out over 40 miles. Many of them peak to over 300 feet and are perfect for extreme off-roading. Be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen here as well.
Continue down CA-111 to I-8 for about another hour to get to your final destination of Yuma in the southwestern region of Arizona. If you have not yet chosen where you are going to stay, there are many campgrounds in the area that can accommodate large rigs. Just eight miles from the city, Oxbow Recreation and Wildlife Area has RV campsites along the Colorado River with vault toilets and water access but no utilities. Eleven miles from the city, Pilot Knob Recreation Area is a historic park with plenty of space for RV camping. These are primitive sites with no utilities as well. Picacho State Recreation Area is about 25 miles away and has over 50 primitive sites that can accommodate big motorhomes.
There are more things to do in Yuma besides enjoying the natural spaces and beautiful parks. The Z Fun Factory has a huge arcade, go-karts, and mini-golf for the whole family to enjoy. The batting cages are great for the bigger kids while the little tikes will love the pirate playhouse. And the adults can enjoy an adult drink at the Z Bar while the kiddos play. West Wetlands Park is another place that everyone will love. It has 110 acres of natural space as well as a beach, disc golf, and playgrounds. With trails, gardens, and ponds to explore too, you and the family can stay busy here all day.