Thanksgiving in the Coachella Valley, California

Since 2022 has been the year of short trips for us, we had to fit in a couple more before the end of the year. Our trip to the Palm Springs area for Thanksgiving was our shortest RV trip ever, since I couldn’t leave home until I’d completed a teacher training session on the Monday of Thanksgiving week.

We arrived at the Emerald Desert RV Resort in Palm Desert on a lovely, sunny afternoon, joining our friends Rich and Lori and some of their family at their Airbnb condo nearby for dinner. We love the names of the streets in Palm Desert. Our campground was on Frank Sinatra Drive near Gerald Ford Drive.

A very pretty desert RV park

The next day we drove east about 40 miles, entering Joshua Tree National Park near the Cottonwood Visitor Center. After getting our national park map, hiking information from a knowledgeable ranger, and the obligatory stamp in my “National Park Passport” book, we headed up the road to the Mastodon Peak trailhead.

Getting the stamp in my 3rd National Park Passport book

What a perfect morning for this 2.6-mile hike that took us up to, around, and to the top of, Mastodon Peak. Along the way, we encountered luscious palm trees (they don’t look like the palms in Los Angeles!), lots of jumbled boulders (reminiscent of the Alabama Hills area we explored in September in the Eastern Sierra Nevada of California), a scramble to the top of the peak with great views of the Salton Sea in the background, an old gold mine, and beautiful ocotillo.

Hank, Lori, Jacky and Rich on the hike
Mastadon Peak in the background, which we climbed (scrambled) up to the top
Ocotillo--Not in bloom, but still beautiful
Cindy among the beautiful rock formations
Lori at the top
The remnants of a gold mine
Viewing the Salton Sea from Mastodon Peak

Next up was a drive northwest through the rest of Joshua Tree National Park, stopping to enjoy the Cholla Cactus Garden, where the Teddy Bear Cholla may look cuddly, but don’t touch!

We love to see the critters, even little lizards!
Cholla Cactus Garden in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Trees, which are actually in the Yucca family of desert plants, started to show up along the road as we meandered into higher elevations through the park. A lovely forest of these “trees” gave us many photo opportunities as we ended our day in Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua trees are so cool!
A painted lady in Joshua Tree

And then it was Thanksgiving! After several rousing Pickleball games, with expert instruction by Lori’s sisters Marilyn and Jacky, we enjoyed a full Thanksgiving dinner mostly provided by the supermarket and local bakery. More than once we’ve eaten a supermarket Thanksgiving dinner and it’s really well done—plus, it’s a lot less work for whomever is hosting (thank you, Lori!).

Marilyn and Hank team up.
Hank and Cindy team up.
Thanksgiving dinner with good friends!

Friday provided another hiking opportunity (had to work off those pie and mashed potato calories), this time on the Araby Trail, where we walked past Bob Hope’s house (no, he’s not there anymore) and quite a ways up the hill.

Hiking the Araby Trail
Looking up at Bob Hope's house
And down from the other direction.

We also had great views of the Palm Springs area, including San Gorgonio in the distance.

San Gorgonio in the distance
Marilyn takes a break.

And we got to see a roadrunner run near our trail.

Later that day, Hank and I stopped by the Palm Springs Art Museum to visit Marilyn Monroe’s Forever Marilyn statue, which is quite stunning and lifelike (though she’s 26 feet tall and weighs 34,000 pounds). I didn’t know that Marilyn Monroe was “discovered” in Palm Springs, and she also visited a lot when she was married to Joe DiMaggio. Her statue has only been back in Palm Springs for a little over a year, but now she’s supposedly there to stay!

Marilyn Monroe from the front...
...and the back (notice Hank's size by comparison).

More Pickleball, some pool time, and leftovers with Lori’s family wrapped up our visit on Friday.

On Saturday we were on our own, which gave us a chance to visit Shield’s Date Garden in Indio, a new adventure for both of us. We got to watch a surprisingly-informative (though old) movie on the Romance and Sex Life of the Date (who knew?), and then walked around a number of date palm trees interspersed with markers and tableaus from the life of Jesus (sort of a Stations-of-the-Cross in the backyard of the date garden). It was a peaceful walk, and we got to see how they used to harvest dates with these crazy-tall, rickety ladders (now they use bucket trucks, like they do for tree trimming).

Our visit ended with Shields’ famous date shakes, which were actually quite yummy!

Thus ended our relaxing stay in the Coachella Valley. November is a perfect time of year to visit the desert! Thanks for journeying along with us!

Danno and Leilani were waiting for us at home!

11 thoughts on “Thanksgiving in the Coachella Valley, California”

  1. Wonderful area! My grandmother lived for a time in Joshua Tree. I have a whole history in the Coachella Valley. Mike and I often like to stay at the 1950s Ocotillo Lodge, designed by the 50’s architect who deigned my mother’s house in Woodland Hills.Maybe “adventure” is not the goal here – just appreciation. What a delightful trip.

  2. Your photos are excellent & a delight to see! It was wonderful spending time with you & Hank —— those competitive Pickleball games ??, the hike ?, Thanksgiving ??♥️♣️♠️♦️, pool time ??‍♂️, and taco night ?? are all GREAT memories ❣️

  3. We spent several a Thanksgiving holiday in the Palm Springs area. I like going all around that area. You are so right that this is the perfect time to visit! The desert offers such a different perspective on many points and has it’s own style in natural beauty. What a wonderful fun time. Seeing your pictures also brought back many memories of my own visits there. Are you ‘squeaking’ in another ‘short trip’ before years end?

    • So glad our trip brought back memories of your trips to the Palm Springs area, Mindy! Lots of family history there! Thanks for reading and commenting.


Leave a Comment