Drive east of Los Angeles and you will find the weather going from warm to hot as you enter the California Desert. Just a short drive east of LA, you will see the terrain begin to change as you enter the Palm Desert.
If you want to come visit the Palm Desert, you may not want to visit during the summer, since temperatures can be 30 degrees higher than in Los Angeles and San Diego. There is a scenic drive to Palm Desert that is a 155 miles round trip. Unless you're planning to stay and camp in Death Valley or get out of the car to explore, this trip will take about 5 hours. This time does include breaks, but not extended stops.
There is no other quick way to the Palm Desert, so you will want to begin your drive north of Escondido, where 1-15 and Rt. 76 meet. There is a gas station at this intersection, so you can fill up before heading out to drive to the desert attractions like Palm Springs, the Mojave Desert, and Joshua Tree.
One of the interesting places to visit in Palm Springs aside from the excellent spas is a park that is filled with desert life. The Living Desert Wildlife and Botanical Park has coyotes, hawks, wolves, mountain lions, and other desert animals in their natural habitat. You can hike along the trails or follow the paths through the ten different examples of desert ecosystems from all over the globe.
For a study in extremes, visit the Death Valley National Park. Here, you can explore over 3.3 million acres of pristine desert wilderness. With unique geological features and stunning wildlife, you will certainly be well aware that you're in the Mojave Desert.
With extreme temperatures and low elevations, Death Valley is the setting of record-breaking heat and contains the lowest part of the Western Hemisphere. Most of the California desert is within the Mojave Desert, which covers most of Southern California. Also within the Mojave Desert is Joshua Tree National Park, which is named after the gnarled, twisted Joshua Trees that dot the landscape.
It is within the Joshua Tree Park where the Mojave Desert ends and the Sonoran Desert begins. The Joshua Trees are in the higher elevations of the Mojave part of the desert. Interesting rock formations known as Inselbergs can also be observed here, and are federally protected.
While the California Desert may seem empty and uninhabited to some, there is lots to see. In the desert, one has to look with a closer eye- a quick glimpse of a running lizard or the delicate beauty of a flower bud will show you that there is life in the desert. If you're planning a trip to Southern California, make time to include a trip to Death Valley, Joshua Tree, and the other interesting places to visit in the California Desert.