Since it's cold in Alaska, we decided to try and find someplace warm.... We flew into Palm Springs and grabbed a rental car. The next morning we made the long drive from Palm Springs to Las Vegas via Joshua Tree National Park & the Mojave National Preserve. Here's the map link of our route.
It made for a long day of driving. Our goal was to hit Primm, Nevada at dark (4:40 PM) so we didn't miss anything. We managed to stay on schedule. There wasn't a lot of gas or food stops, so we started with a full tank and a cooler with lunch stuff in it.
All we did was just drive through the parks. You could easily spend two or three days exploring each park. There's a ton of hiking trails and camping areas. It was a little hard to not stop and check everything out, but we just didn't have the time. Maybe on another trip...
Here's the pictures:
Here's a more detailed narrative from a Trip Report I did for Trip Advisor:
We flew into Palm Springs on the day after Thanksgiving and picked up the rental car. Our destination was Las Vegas,
but flights into Palm Springs was cheaper and the rental car was
cheaper. We stopped by Grill-A-Burger and had a great dinner. Well worth
the stop. We ran down the street to Costco and got some traveling
supplies for the drive.
For our hotel we choose the Best Western Date Tree in Indio. It's an
older property, but it was very nice and the staff was great. Oh, and
the breakfast the next day was perfect.
We got up early, ate and swung by the nearby Food 4 Less. We brought a
collapsible cooler since it looked like food stops between there and
Las Vegas were few.
We headed down I-10 to the turn off to the southern access for Joshua Tree National Park.
The drive through the desert was great. We stopped briefly at the
visitors center. We would have loved to do some hiking, but we had a lot
of driving ahead of us. We did take time to do the trip over to Key's
View. It was amazing. We saw a bobcat about half way in.
We made a short stop at Skull Rock. Again, we would have loved to do
some hiking... We'll have to get back sometime. We came out of the park
at 29 Palms and headed towards Amboy.
Coming over the mountains we pulled over at a gravel pit that was
being used as as shooting range to eat our lunch. The view of the valley
to the north was the perfect back drop.
At Amboy we stopped briefly at Roys and took a picture of the Route
66 markings on the road. We drove briefly down Route 66 and turned on
Kelbaker Road headed towards Mojave National Preserve. Again, driving
through the desert was so nice coming from the cold of Alaska.
We stopped at the Kelso Depot and took a quick look at the displays upstairs. At the advice of the park ranger, at Cima we took the Morning Star Mine Road.
Our plan was to hit Primm, NV
before dark and we got there just in time. We knew we'd be seeing the
road from Primm to Las Vegas in the daytime on the way home a week
We stopped at Buffalo Bills in Primm and ate at Ms. Ashley's Buffet.
It was not at all worth the price and we were severely disappointed.
After dinner and playing a few slots, we headed on into Vegas. It was
a long day of driving... about 8 hours all together. But we loved it.