Escape From Las Vegas: Desert Hot Springs & Joshua Tree National Park Part 1

While plenty of people come to Las Vegas, those of us who live here need to get the hell out of dodge every once in a while. So when my husband and I's two year anniversary came up, we started planning a little trip. I'd gone to Joshua Tree for my "bachelorette party" and had been wanting to go back there with the husband ever since. During my bachelorette party, my best friend and I were stinky, dusty and tired after several days camping and a particularly long hike, so we went in search of a hot springs pool that we could soak in.

We found a true gem, untouched by time, the Palm Springs red-headed stepchild of Desert Hot Springs and the Desert Hot Springs Spa and hotel. Though we didn't stay there at that time, we did pay the $5 day fee to soak in one of their 8 or 9 pools and headed promptly to the bar with booths that were upholstered in dark maroon red leather. There was no one behind the bar, but sitting at the bar was a wide, stout man with a heaping plate of spaghetti that was soaking in watery red sauce. 

He turned to my best friend, my brother and I and asked what we wanted. As soon as we told him he shouted to an unseen person, "Hey, these guys need a whisky, vodka cranberry and vodka soda!" and continued to eat. All of a sudden a woman showed up sporting the 90's style of bangs which is the top half curled back and the bottom half curled under, not unlike a horizontal version of the parting of the Red Sea. All nested in a bed of permed hair. I immediately time travelled to when I was in fourth grade and made a mental note to come back here. 

So we did. We drove to Desert Hot Springs, and on the way from Las Vegas to Desert Hot Springs were some amazing little dusty towns that dare anyone with the tiniest drop of a photographers soul to not make a dusty u-turn and say a silent thank you to the lords above that your spouse is patient. My favorite of all was Amboy where a retired Motel named Roy's was still standing and a road side store was still there.

And then we made it to the Desert Hot Springs Hotel And Spa.

Dusk at The Desert Hot Springs Hotel and Spa. 

Dusk at The Desert Hot Springs Hotel and Spa. 

Here's the thing. When I came to this hotel originally, it was in the middle of the day and in the middle of the week. My husband and I rolled onto the courtyard pool scene around 7 PM on a Saturday, apparently a bit late to the witching hour. There were people who'd clearly been drinking through the day and were not going to remember what was happening at that point. My husband and I grabbed some drinks and proceeded to sample the pools. Things got later, the pours got stiffer and we were able to hang in with the craziness until about ten pm. We called it quits after a woman of a certain age slurred to us that an older gentleman had offered her some edibles. I told her to have an adventure (regretful in retrospect). She was silent. So I asked her what she wanted to do and she said that she wanted to go home.

Ten minutes later we look over and she's on a bench with the edibles man taking something out of his hand and putting it in her mouth. My husband and I looked at each other and we knew it was time to call it a night. 


The Desert Hot Springs Hotel and Spa is For You If: 

  • You are super amped about mid-century architecture
  • You want to live in the poor man's version of Melrose Place for a night
  • If you like to order glasses of wine that involve about a half bottle pour
  • You, like me, enjoy sitting back and wondering about all the different backgrounds, places, faces and paths in life that brought everyone to this strange little place
  • You are healthy enough to drink alcohol in super hot pools. Last time I checked, this is dangerous. The hotel's policies clearly read as: so what?

The Desert Hot Springs Hotel and Spa is not for your if: 

  • You are a clean freak.
  • You want to be surrounded only by the genteel.
  • You are adverse to mullets. 
  • You are easily frightened by colorful characters. 
  • You think that it's going to be anything like its sophisticated neighbor, Palm Springs. 

The Route

If you're feeling like taking the long way and want to stumble upon a bunch of photographic gems, here is a picture of the route that we took and that I highly recommend you take as well:

Route from Las Vegas To Desert Hot Springs.

Route from Las Vegas To Desert Hot Springs.

Tomorrow I'll post more about Joshua Tree and our stay at Indian Cove Campground. If you would like to receive email updates from me as I keep going on journeys both personal and professional, please sign up and you won't miss a beat.