The first time we visited Joshua Tree National Park, we stayed in Indian Cove campground and spent almost all our time within the park boundaries. We never regret spending time in parks; however, several unique lodging opportunities exist in nearby 29 Palms and by the unincorporated town of Joshua Tree. Here’s where to stay hear Joshua Tree National Park if you don’t plan to camp.
29 Palms Inn:
On a first drive through the desert town of 29 Palms, it may not be evident that there’s much to stop for. Not so. This gateway to Joshua Tree National Park has a lively, artistic community with fun dining options and an amazing resort at 29 Palms Inn.
Located on 70 acres, 29 Palms Inn is centered around the Oasis of Mara (acquired by the Southern Pacific Railroad during the railroad boom). Guests can still walk right up to the oasis (on site) and explore it. The 29 Palms Inn was established in the 1920s, and is now owned by the Grunt family, who run it locally along with the Roughly Manor. Everything about the Inn celebrates the desert landscape, with much of the resort property outdoors. The pool, office, and restaurant comprise the heart of the inn, with sandy walking paths leading around cacti and brush to multiple stand-alone adobe and wooden cabins, rooms, and studios. The dining area is indoor-outdoor, and there’s an outdoor living room space just beside the pool for relaxing in the shade.
We love that sleeping spaces are roomy (perfect for families!) and that breakfast is included. Every morning, guests will find a healthy, homemade breakfast served buffet style. During our visit, we found steel cut oatmeal with toppings, breads and coffee cake, fresh fruit, juice, and coffee.
Lunch and dinner are served (at extra cost) in the same poolside building, featuring produce from the inn’s very own organic garden, Faultline Farm. Picnic lunches are also available to go for $10 each, so you can leave to enjoy the park without stopping for groceries.
Yoga and nature walks are offered on the weekends, and the heated pool is available to guests every day. There are plenty of places for kids to explore and play outdoors, which I appreciate. Hammocks are hung by the garden, and the Creative Center artist studio is located within easy walking distance on site. Here, families can paint a canvas or pottery with artist (and Inn family member) Heidi Grunt.
Lodging options range from a stand-alone adobe cottage with a complete kitchen, living space, and outdoor patio perfect for a whole family, to single rooms ideal for adults traveling solo. Rates are in the $150 range. Check for latest prices.
Also owned by the Grunt family, Roughley Manor is very different than 29 Palms Inn, but has the same relaxed vibe and love for the outdoors and nature in common. Founded in 1925 as the Campbell’s Ranch (the Campbells have a history with the Oasis of Mara as well), Roughley Manor was turned into a bed and breakfast in 1994. The manor and grounds are designed in a serene English manor style, with gardens, shade trees, and stonework. While in stark contract to the desert landscape, Roughly Manor somehow just works, creating an oasis of its own for families exploring Joshua Tree.
The manor serves a full breakfast included in the room rate. There’s also an outdoor pool, and acres of landscaped flower gardens, fruit trees, and courtyards to relax in. Kids can play Bocce Ball in front of the manor, as well as chess.
Most rooms are stand-alone cabins and cottages that dot the property, complete with kitchenettes (microwaves, mini-fridges, and sinks) and bathrooms with tubs. Most have a small porch. Some rooms also are offered inside the manor house, for a total of 12 options. Like the Inn, rates are around $150.
Bonus lodging option:
Families who are adventurous but also ready for a special, spiritual Joshua Tree lodging experience may want to consider the eco-friendly, sustainable earth bag built domes at Bonita Domes. Rented through AirBnb, two sleeping pods in the Bonita Domes ‘village’ anchor an outdoor kitchen, kiva pit, and shower pod. An additional unit is also for rent in the main home.
Bonita Domes are owned and operated by contemporary medicine woman and Joshua Tree resident Lisa Starr. Because Bonita Domes is also Lisa’s home, she rightfully asks for respect and reverence in this special space. We recommend bringing children who are ready for the experience of sleeping in a pod, being tuned with the outdoors, and can appreciate this special place.
Lisa also offers shamanic medicine sessions at the kiva pit, which I was lucky to experience. The session takes about an hour (sometimes more) and involves a rhythmic drum cadence and meditation. No experience is needed…just an open mind to enjoy the experience. Sessions are $150 each, and not required during the stay (but recommended for families with older kids).
Pit for later!
As I disclose whenever applicable, I experienced these lodging options and the drum medicine session as a guest, for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.