Forum Index » Pre-Trip Planning » Backpacking trip ideas - Palm Springs, CA area December.


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Mike R
(redpoint) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Backpacking trip ideas - Palm Springs, CA area December. on 12/16/2013 10:20:30 MST Print View

Hi everyone, best of the season to you all.

I'm heading down to Palm Springs to spend Christmas with family. I'm going to try and escape for a couple of days and would like some recommendations for an overnight trip [say 20 miles in total length]. Since I'm in the desert, I'd like to get some night photography/astrophotography in as well. Obviously, Joshua Tree NP is a contender so any recommendations for overnight trips there would be welcome.

Thank you ...!

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Backpacking trip ideas - Palm Springs, CA area December. on 12/16/2013 10:31:22 MST Print View

I will throw the following at you simply as an option, but since you seem to be from BC it might be better to experience something less familiar to you like the desert. Yes Joshua Tree is an amazingly beautiful place, in its desert simplicity.

a mountain option from Palm Springs is to head up into a bit of snow in San Jacinto State Park. Either take the tram up and hike from there, or take the somewhat brutal Skyline trail up to top of tram then continue.

But Josh is very nice this time of year (it can be cold).

Mike R
(redpoint) - F

Locale: British Columbia
San Jacinto State Park on 12/16/2013 19:22:02 MST Print View

Thanks Art. Actually, you're spot on b/c that was my first idea. It'll either be one or the other, but perhaps both if I can sneak away.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Backpacking trip ideas - Palm Springs, CA area December. on 12/16/2013 19:24:18 MST Print View

JT is great for stargazing and photography.

There are few trails. Cross country hiking is most common. The northern part of JT is higher in elevation and bitter cold and snow is not uncommon in December. The southern part is lower in elevation and warmer. There is one entrance at the south, a couple in the north end.

JT Snow
This is what the southern entrance area of JT looked like in Dec 2008.

Water (lack of) can be a problem.

However, I hike there a lot in winter.

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Anza Borrego has lots of possibilities in December.

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Regarding Desert Skyline... can become a mountaineering trip the last couple of miles if it snows and ices up. Ice axe and crampons required. Some people have difficulty navigating parts of it.


You might find something interesting in my Trip Reports page. I live in Palm Springs, but usually spend the last part of every December hiking in southern Nevada -- more opportunities for longer hikes and water is generally easier to find. Enjoy yourself, whatever you choose to do.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Re: Backpacking trip ideas - Palm Springs, CA area December. on 12/17/2013 09:55:11 MST Print View

yes there seem to be few trails in the park of any length.
there is the California Hiking and Riding Trail (which several of us ran last spring) but in my view it does not travel thru the most scenic areas.
but in the upper portion there are numerous day hike trails.
I'm very familiar with the upper park but have not spent much time in the lower.
for a first timer who is photography oriented the numerous rock formations of the upper park may be quite interesting. you could camp in one of several camp grounds, or take a short over nighter.
this central, rock laden part is popular with rock climbers and other visitors, but a half mile from the road and you won't see anyone, especially in winter.

Edited by asandh on 12/17/2013 09:57:07 MST.

Mike R
(redpoint) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Coxcomb Mtns. on 12/25/2013 15:00:21 MST Print View

Any of you ever hike in the Coxcomb Range in Joshua Tree - looks awesome? Kind of thinking that I might head over that way.

Also, for those of you who know Palm Springs, is there a good hiking/camping store where I could pick-up a few things like fuel and freeze-dried meals. I'm batting zero with my quick online search ... now if I was looking for golfing equipment, I'd be all set!

Edited by redpoint on 12/25/2013 15:01:14 MST.