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  1. Default San Diego - Anza - Joshua - Mojave ... San Diego

    Good evening RTA folks

    after an early January conference I am adding two weeks to visit the desert parks like Joshua, Anza, Mojave, may be Death Valley together with my grown up son before heading back to Germany. We would like to go hiking and do photography.

    Initially, I was thinking about getting a BongoBuggy and let my son sleep in a little tent outside. But as the average low in Joshua is around 32F it will be rather cold, starting to get uncomfortable probably right after sunset. The next option, much more comfortable, would be a 19 compact camper RV. But then I read in a thread on this forum that winterization may/will be an issue. Now I am a little at a loss and am not sure what our options are.
    I had also thought about getting a SUV spend the nights in motels. This may work for Joshua, but the Motel density seems much lower in other areas. Also spending the nights in the parks I always liked, but that was summers... (although we did get snowed out of Yellowstone in June!!)

    So we wonder whether you can provide advice and directions (literally).

    cheers

    Tred

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Freezing weather not that much of a concern

    Welcome to RTA and the Trip Planning Forums.

    I've been curious myself about the BongoBuggies and may have to try one some day. Tenting in January in Southern California can be a little chilly -- but it's not that cold. You might well see snow on the ground in a couple of places because January will likely see some significant precipitation from the El Nino effect.

    Winterization issues for RV's really isn't much of a concern the parks you've mentioned -- unless you are going to be parked for a while in one spot -- again, water and waste lines might freeze in some locations, but generally temps will be above freezing during the day.

    There are motels near those other parks -- but I really think you will be fine. January is one of the high seasons for RV's in Death Valley, so you will have plenty of company.

    Enjoy the planning!

    Mark

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default One place to consider near Joshua Tree NP

    One thing I would add, even if you are going to RV-it for most of your holiday -- there is an inn near Joshua Tree NP -- in Twentynine Palms that is a classic American hideaway. The Twentynine Palms Inn has long been a favorite place for Hollywood stars and RTA writers. It's located on the edge of the park boundary and you can easily walk into the park from your bungalow.

    Also, the city of 29 Palms has sponsored the painting of several murals found throughout the town. Here is one of the dozen or so we've visited over the years.

    Mark

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Odds and Ends of Advice

    Willkommen! Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Yes, unfortunately you really can't plan on sleeping 'outdoors' anywhere in the desert southwest anytime in January. What many people don't realize about the desert is that while daytime temperatures can be relatively reasonable, the fact that the air is so dry and there is seldom any cloud cover means that once the sun goes down the atmosphere cools rapidly and deeply. It is not at all unusual for the nighttime temperature to be 40║F (20║C) colder than the midday high temperature.

    But there are some basic-level motels in Borrego Springs (inside Anza-Borrego Desert State Park), a greater variety of motels in Twentynine Palms just outside Joshua Tree National Park, and at least (maybe only) one motel in Baker CA on the north side of Mojave National Preserve. Each of those options would put you within an hour's drive or less of their nearby parks. Death Valley has accommodations inside the park, at both Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells, but you need to check now to see if there are any vacancies and keep checking back for cancellations, otherwise I'd recommend the Longstreet Inn in Amargosa Valley NV just across the state line on CA-127/NV-373.

    You can put together a nice loop trip that includes all of the parks you mentioned (plus a few more) by taking Exit 17 off I-15 north of San Diego and using the Scripps Poway Parkway east to CA-67/CA-78 through Ramona to Santa Ysabel, then CA-79 north to county road S22 east into Borrego Springs where the park headquarters for Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is located. I will warn you that S22 drops down from some modestly high hills/mountains into the valley that contains the park and you should plan on stopping a couple of times on the way down to let your brakes cool off. Next continue on S22 to CA-86 north along the Salton Sea (below sea level) to Mecca CA where Box Canyon Road/Cottonwood Springs Road will take you into Joshua Tree National Park. Exit that park to the north through Twentynine Palms taking Utah Trail north to Amboy Road (Yes! You will need good detailed maps of the area!) to the town of Amboy where a short drive east on National Trails Highway (a portion of the old Route 66) will bring you to Kelbaker Road north through Mojave National Preserve to the town of Baker CA and CA-127 north to Death Valley National Park.

    For your return to San Diego you might want to consider basically following the Colorado River down to Yuma and then heading back to the coast staying just north of the Mexican border. Roads such as US-95 on the California side of the river and AZ-95 on the Arizona side will give you access to a few dams, London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, and Yuma Territorial Prison State Park, while I-8 and CA-94 provide a scenic route through Imperial Sand Dunes and the Laguna Mountains.

    AZBuck

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    You can put together a nice loop trip that includes all of the parks you mentioned (plus a few more) by taking Exit 17 off I-15 north of San Diego and using the Scripps Poway Parkway east to CA-67/CA-78 through Ramona to Santa Ysabel, then CA-79 north to county road S22 east into Borrego Springs where the park headquarters for Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is located. I will warn you that S22 drops down from some modestly high hills/mountains into the valley that contains the park and you should plan on stopping a couple of times on the way down to let your brakes cool off. Next continue on S22 to CA-86 north along the Salton Sea (below sea level) to Mecca CA where Box Canyon Road/Cottonwood Springs Road will take you into Joshua Tree National Park.
    I'd like to offer a bit of an alternative to using Exit 17 Scripps Poway Parkway from I-15, please. Scripps Poway Parkway *used* to be a breeze between I-15 and CA-67. Now it's just a bear, with many, many more traffic lights, and too much traffic, than it used to have. If coming out of downtown San Diego, in the convention center area, take CA-163 north to I-8 east to CA-67 north (El Cajon). From there, the directions are about the same. The second alternative to Scripps Poway Parkway is to just take Poway Road east (S4) from I-15. We actually counted one time -- there are less traffic lights on Poway Road than there are on Scripps Poway Parkway.

    Anyway, this is a local's viewpoint.

    As for where to stay -- RV's can be very comfortable, but before you rent, tell the rental place where you are planning to take the rig. If they say you have to winterize, then just get motels. One of the nicest points to using an RV is the onboard bathroom and kitchen. If you have to use it winterized, bathrooms and kitchens are closed. So what's the point other than the place to sleep every night?


    Donna

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    My preference would be to take I-8 east all the way to CA-79 at Descanso, and going up through Cuyamaca Rancho State Park into Julian, stop at the Julian Pie Company for some of their famous apple pie. Then take CA-78 east down into the desert, S3 will get you to Borrego.

  7. Default

    Dear RTA folks

    thank you so much for your friendly welcome and the most valuable suggestions, I am really impressed!
    I do need some time to digest all the information and put the various places on the map.

    Given the issues around winterization (and the actual cost of renting an RV) I shall have another look at the car/SUV motel option.

    Maybe that is even more appropriate. But to judge this, I first need the itinerary and the associate accommodation options.

    cheers

    Tred

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Renting an RV is rarely cheaper than renting a car and paying for the motel, given the associated costs with an RV (mileage, poor fuel mileage, linen-cooking-etc packages to rent, then your overnight fees at RV parks). That said, I loved our RV (we've owned 3 different ones) and do miss it.

    Best thing to do, to figure out your itinerary, is to get your maps and start flagging where you want to go. Then decide how long you can afford to stay at each place. You may have to trim back here and there -- we do it all the time when planning trips.


    Donna

  9. Default

    Thanks Donna

    yes, you are right. Once you start adding up.....
    But, the advantage is ofcourse staying in the parks. This is definitely true for the summer. I am not so sure any more for January when its getting dark at 5pm. Then one could probably just as well drive to the lodging.

    Thanks again

    Tredlie

  10. Default

    Dear All
    one more question.

    It turns out that the RVs coming out of San Diego are indeed winterized. (it was communicated sounding like a big plus). This of course reduces the comfort quite a bit. From your perspective and experience: does this only mean having to bring water along and not use the kitchen sink and not go potty and shower? Heating is likely operational?

    Or are there any other restrictions that come with winterization?

    cheers

    Tred

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