A Long Visit to Indio, California

Our fifth ever “backyard,” if you will, was on the BLM lands just south of Joshua Tree National Park. In short, we had such a great time!

We arrived in the evening, just as the sun was setting. That first sunset was one of the most beautiful ones that we saw there (there were SOO many amazing sunsets), and this set the tone for our entire stay in this awesome location.

Our arrival was simple, as the entrance to the BLM lands is from a main road, which allows campers to either turn right or left to access campsites. We turned to the right and had no problems driving our RV to choose a campground. Normally, we drive our tow vehicle to find a good spot, since it is much easier to navigate than the RV, but the simplicity of the long, straight road made it easy to find a great campsite driving our RV, even while towing a vehicle.

We had no issue finding a level site that was large enough to comfortably house our big rig, and we opted to drive a bit down the road and park furthest away so that we could let our dogs run off-leash without disturbing others. We also discovered that most sites also had 3-5 bars of signal for both AT&T and Verizon, which is extremely vital to our daily workflow.

While staying at Joshua Tree South, we enjoyed the beautifully scenic location where we were parked and also took day trips to many of the surrounding areas, all within an hour’s drive: the Salton Sea, Box Canyon, Painted Canyon, (read about these three locations here), Palm Springs, the San Bernardino National Forest, (read about these two trips here) and, of course, Joshua Tree National Park (read more about the park here).

Our campsite was literally seconds from the south entrance to the park, but we were about an hour away from the park’s main attractions. Yet, we had no issue driving to the north side of the park a few times to see all of the main sites, especially since it was such a scenic drive. We enjoyed some great hikes just inside the park as well, the most notable being the Lost Palms Oasis Trail.

While staying at Joshua Tree South, when not daytripping, our days were fairly simple. After morning breakfast and coffee, we put in a solid day’s work, stopping in the evening to walk our dogs and have dinner and relax a bit before bed. We enjoyed a nice, long walk with our dogs down the dirt road almost every day, and they seemed to enjoy it too. There was really so much to see from this location, and we were there long enough to see most of the area’s main sites and attractions.

We ended up staying a full month, or four weeks exactly. Since we plan to move every 1-2 weeks, this was definitely an abnormally long stay for us. However, we chose to stay so long for a few main reasons:

  1. The location was WARM, and the weather was great! While we endured some mild desert winds during the first week there, we were stoked to have finally found a location with safe winter weather! After all, we did come to California first thing during our trip to enjoy a nice warm winter, and we quickly learned that SoCal winters can actually be fairly cold, rainy, and windy (read more about the crazy weather we endured previously here). We figured the rest of the winter may be cold and rainy, and we knew this location would keep us fairly safe from inclement weather, such as floods and high winds.
  2. The location was PRIVATE. By private, I mean that we were not parked side-by-side with other RVers, and we were able to let our dogs run off-leash several times a day. Allowing them to run and tire themselves out is great for them, as they enjoy it and need the exercise. We feel much better putting in a long day’s work when our dogs are properly exercised. In addition, the saying among dog owners goes, “A tired dog is a well-behaved dog,” and this is especially true of high energy breeds, such as border collies and German shepherds. 😀 (Note: we are aware that coyotes are present in the area, and we actually saw some on multiple occasions. However, we are careful to closely watch our dogs while they are off-leash and walk them on-leash during dawn, dusk and the evening, when coyotes almost strictly hunt. We had also heard that there were rattlesnakes, scorpions, and tarantulas in the area, but not once did we see any of these dangerous predators, although we did keep a constant eye out for them.)
  3. The location had GREAT cell reception and data signal. We had some previous hotspot and connectivity issues, which made working from the road difficult and ended up confining us to the daily Starbucks hustle for almost two full weeks (read more about this here). Having great reception and being able to work unhindered was amazing, and we knew we could enjoy a beautiful location and be able to work when necessary here.
  4. The location was close to many other locations for daytrips. I mentioned a few of our mini-trips previously, and we took exactly 4 trips to Joshua Tree NP, along with other little trips to the two nearby canyons, as well as a trip to the city of Palm Springs and a trip up Mt. San Jacinto to see the little town of Idyllwild. We also put “The Nautilus,” our canoe, in the water for the first time since leaving NJ, and the Salton Sea was a marvelous location for a brief paddle. All this being said, we reasoned that Joshua Tree South was a great base for seeing many other sites, and we were also about 30 minutes away from major amenities, such as Walmart, gas stations, and the post office (I am constantly shipping out orders for Mugsy Supply House).
  5. Staying in one location for awhile allowed us to relax, unwind, and regroup. Prior to leaving, we put in six solid weeks of 18-hour days in preparation for our journey. Following this, we sprinted across the country in under nine days to get to Los Angeles for the holidays, and, following this, we were chased out of our next two locations by inclement weather. Packing up and moving out is a lot of work, and being able to leave everything in its regular spot and stay put was so nice and convenient.

All of this being said, we are definitely not planning to stay in one spot for month-long stretches very often. After a month, we were starting to get tired of the location, as we had seen most of the surrounding sites. When we pulled out on February 21st, we were more than ready to leave.

While here, it is noteworthy to add that we met up with some great new friends and fellow RVers: Lindsey and Gerrit from “Living Life in Between” and Mandy and Kevin from “188 Sq. Ft.” It was so great to meet up with like-minded individuals in our age-range and share great food, great memories, and great trips.

The only downside to this location that I would note is its distance from amenities. About five miles up i-10, there is a gas station and market in Chiriaco Summit. However, the market is limited in its stock and also fairly overpriced. The next nearest location for most other necessities is in Indio, about 30 minutes away. However, the drive there is fairly simple since i-10 is just minutes from this location.

I will also note, for all those wondering how we managed to make it an entire month without showers or drinking water, that there was a great location only 10 minutes away, where we went to fill our water weekly. This gave us plenty of water for showering, doing dishes, watering plants, laundry, and drinking.

I would highly recommend this location to anyone looking to stay by Joshua Tree. It is free and boasts great cell signal, for those who have to work. There is literally no cell signal the second you enter the park, so being so close while still being able to use phones/data is a huge plus. We really enjoyed our month spent here and will definitely be back in years to come.

Have you ever visited Joshua Tree or its surrounding areas? What did you think? Feel free to share in the comments below!

About Samantha Binger

Samantha BingerSam is one-half of the Life Among Pines crew. She is an animal-loving bookworm, an avid photographer and an amateur chef/wanna-be foodie. Travel and adventure are two of her biggest passions in life, and she loves living life on the road, where she can explore new places on the daily. When not writing a new blog post, you can find her sipping tea, hiking with her dogs, sampling a local brewery, or fulfilling orders for her Etsy shop, MugsySupplyHouse. Feel free to reach out and say hi!