Take Your Family on a Desert Adventure!

Recently, I fell in love with the California desert.  I have driven through it countless times on my way to Las Vegas or Arizona, and always saw it as nothing more than a huge, barren wasteland separating me from my destination.   But over the past couple months, my opinion has been drastically altered.   Through the eyes voices of the people who call this rare landscape home,  I have come to appreciate the beauty, diversity, and opportunity the desert has to offer.

In an effort to better understand the region, my family booked a two hour eco-tour with Desert Adventures.  The company began 23 years ago  as way to entertain golf-widows staying at the Ritz Carlton by taking them on picnics in the desert and surrounding mountain wilderness.  The tours were so popular that it wasn’t long before Desert Adventures was born, and couples, groups, and families were out riding in their famous red jeeps, exploring with some of the most knowledgeable guides around.  For anyone who has had the pleasure of taking a tour, it comes as no surprise to learn that the company has evolved into the largest eco-tour outfitter in the state.

The first person to open my eyes to the miracle that is the desert was Mitch, our guide.  We weren’t more than 500 yards into our journey before Mitch pulled over and started giving us a lesson in the botany of the desert.  He explained to us how different plants were utilized by the native peoples from using the salt that accumulated on the saltbrush plant to strands from a palm frond to make a rope.  He kept the kids entertained by hopping out of the jeep to make them each their own palm frond ropes, having them pull apart a single palm strand with ease and then showing them how impossible it was to break the rope of thin strands wound together.

Teaching the kids how to make a palm frond rope

One of the highlights of our two hour tour was visiting a recreated Cahuilla Indian village next to a palm oasis.  We went inside a kish, or Native American home, and learned about the utensils they used and the lives they lived.  It was at the palm oasis where we  learned the following fascinating facts:

1. Palm Trees are not actually trees, they are a member of the grass family.

2. Palm Springs sits on the 4th largest aquifer on the planet, hence all the lush green golf courses in the middle of a desert

3. Native Americans checked coyote feces to see what they ate because they knew that if it was safe for the coyote, it was safe for them.

I could go on and on listing more of the interesting facts Mitch shared with us, but I want you to go on the tour and experience it for yourself!

Star Wars fans will appreciate winding through the very slot canyon that was used in a chase scene during the first movie (which was technically the fourth.  Even though it was written first.  But let’s not get started on that).  Geology enthusiasts will love standing on the San Andreas fault line and viewing the dramatic results of the Pacific and North American plates colliding.  Folks with a case of gold fever will jump at the chance to visit an old mine and pan for gold.

The dramatic geology surrounding the San Andreas Fault
Exploring the mine and panning for gold

Desert Adventures offers several other tours and the tour I have my eye on next is the 5 hour long Joshua Tree National Park jeep tour.  The jeep takes the rugged back country roads into the park, starting in the low elevation Colorado Desert and windiing its way up into the high elevation Mojave Desert.  The jeep allows tourists to see a part of the park that less than 1% of visitors ever see, and the incredibly knowledgeable guides are sure to make visiting the national park that much more special.

For more information on Desert Adventures, check out their website, Red-Jeep.com.

Disclosure- My family and I received a reduced rate on our Desert Adventures jeep tour in order to write this story.  Desert Adventures did not ask that I express any particular opinion and, as always, all opinions are entirely my own. That being said, the tour was one of the greatest vacation experiences I have ever had and I highly recommend it.

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Sharlene Earnshaw (aka doubleadventure) is Blogger-in-chief for Trekaroo and the blogger behind Double the Adventure.

Travel with kids to: CA |CO | DC | FL | HI | IL |MA | NC | NY | OR | PA | TN | TX | VA | WA

About the author

Sharlene Earnshaw is Trekaroo’s Editor in Chief. She lives in sunny Orange County, CA, with her husband and 10-year-old son and daughter (twins!). She is a self-proclaimed National Park junkie and has the goal of visiting each and every one with her kids. When she isn't traveling to places like Norway, Peru, Disney World, and Hawaii with her family, she enjoys hiking, beach days, obsessively rooting for the San Francisco 49ers, and planning her brood's next trip.
2 Responses
  1. Anna

    Sounds like a fascinating tour. I must admit the desert has never been top of my list of must see places but I can see that I should reconsider!

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