the annual andrea zittel-sponsored high desert test sites is coming up out in joshua tree on may 12-13... i highly recommend it. it's a great opportunity to be able to be a part of something sponsored by one of contemporary art's most notable artists - not just by or about the artist, but her collective vision and community. um, can you tell that she's one of my favorites? she makes me want to only eat out of bowls and live in one tiny room to maximize my efficency. (ps - be sure to check out her show at moca right now, too.) anyway, we went last spring and weren't able to see everything because we just drove out, spur of the moment, from los angeles. some of the work we saw was quirky, some was unimpressive, some was definitely stimulating.... overall, it was a great experience. it's supposed to be a smaller presentation this year, but we recently invested in a bunch of camping equipment for our trip to big sur so we are going to try out some desert camping and spend the night at the indian cove campsite just inside the park from 29 palms. i have heard really good things about other campgrounds in the park, specifically ryan campground, white tank campground, and belle campground, but indian cove is a bit closer to HDTS, and accepts reservations, so there it is. i bought this guide to the park by james kaiser and it has been really helpful - he's very frank about his opinions. the author also maintains a helpful website with some links to lodging; you can find it at jameskaiser.com.
as far as hotels go, i remember hearing about a cool little place to stay in town where many of the rock climbers and joshua tree adventurers stay after a long day of adventure. i can't remember the name, but here are some decent-seeming options i found from a google search and from the afore-mentioned site:
- 29 palms inn - unambitious (but doable) cabins and bungalows. rates anywhere from $85 to $280.
- joshua tree inn - where gram parsons spent his last days, and other music legends (rolling stones, donovan, emmylou harris, the eagles) have stayed "over the years"... i'm sure it wasn't recently, but it looks like an interesting place with a good amount of history, nonetheless. rates are $75 - $95 per night, with deals for a weekly rate
- spin and margie's desert hideaway - 4 suite hacienda-style bungalows, each with a kitchenette. colorful, semi-crazy decor with mexican blankets and brightly painted walls. could be better in person than it looks online... rates are $115 - 150 per night. i'm generally not into the b&b scene, though.
- rosebud ruby star - a small inn with 4 private bungalows. 2 night minimum. of the four, i think i like the biltmore bunkhouse the best - $370 for 2 nights. but again, not usually in love with b&b's...
- harmony motel - where U2 (one of my least favorite bands of all time) stayed as they worked on their joshua tree album. recently renovated, but with not much charm - very boring cheap-looking decor, and by boring i don't mean minimalist. anyway, not at the top of the list, but very inexpensive - $70 a night. also has one private cabin, the "jack kerouac cabin" for $80 per night.
considering the burgeoning art connection in joshua tree, i wish there were a motel that rocks it like the thunderbird motel does in marfa, texas... there's enough style in palm springs, i guess, but it would be nice if someone did it in a more remote area. if you don't mind not staying in the thick of joshua tree, i highly recommend hope springs out in desert hot springs, just next to palm springs. what an gem - we stayed here last november, and i cannot recommend it highly enough. serene, lovely, well maintained, out-of-the-way but not too disconnected, with friendly but non-intrusive hosts.
oh, and here's the wikipedia travel guide to j-tree.