Celebrate the 100th year of the National Park Service by heading to one of the grandest parks in the world. Yosemite is like landing on Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn combined. The surreal, epic landscape will shock the city right out of you and connect you with nature on a primordial level. Beg, borrow, or steal a convertible for full enjoyment. We also suggest October for dramatically changing weather, cheaper rates, and fewer crowds, but anytime of year is perfect.
After leaving the traffic of Los Angeles behind you, and before heading into Yosemite Valley, take Interstate 5 north through Kettleman City where you will connect with Route 41 that will take you to the beautiful Tenaya Lodge burrowed deep within the Sierra National Forest. Grab some archery lessons, cocktails, amazing food, and lodging for the night in order to rest up for a packed day of sinewy mountain roads, endless landscapes, and outdoor activities.
Hit up Yosemite Rivers fishing supply for a fly fishing tour where you can reenact A River Runs Through It while also learning some local knowledge about Yosemite and its natural inhabitants. Depending on weather, your departure time, and which route the fishing outfit takes you, you can do one of three things: drive through the valley floor and see the spectacle from the ground level; take Glacier Point road to Glacier Point for a birds eye view of El Capitan and Half Dome; or you could head to the Evergreen Lodge, which at this point you’ll be so far away from light pollution, the stars begin to dance for you.
The next day there are boundless possibilities to explore in Yosemite. Sequoia groves provide context with just how impressive these trees are (however, be aware that the Mariposa Trail is closed). After hiking and exploring, the Majestic Yosemite Hotel offers respite from cramped legs and seduces you with delicious lunch and cold local beer. However, don’t feel obligated to stick to a plan. Sometimes the best plan is no plan, especially in a place like Yosemite.
When you want to escape the heat and scorching sun of summer time in LA, make your way to the desert and Joshua Tree! Though it might be dry, it’s full of life. While Joshua trees may resemble wacky-waving-inflatable-arm-flailing-tube men, there’s nothing gimmicky about this place. Gorgeous vistas, huge flora and fauna diversity, and vast open sky full of millions of stars make Joshua Tree National Park a no brainer for intrastate travel.
With Coachella Valley right before the park, there are plenty of options to stay if camping isn’t for you. However, we totally suggest camping as your main place of residency. Most are first come, first serve for the campgrounds, if you have a family certain sites like Black Rock and Indian Cove can be reserved on www.recreation.gov. Also, pets are limited in Joshua tree except for certain trails, so make sure to read up on rules first.
You’re going to want to reserve a spot on the Keys Ranch tour. It’s affordable at $10 and the guided walking tour gives you a bit of history behind the people who made Joshua Tree their home. Make sure to hike Ryan Mountain to get to an unspoiled peak of the desert; wander through the Wonderland of Rocks; and also the old mining site of the Wall Street Mill.
There are so many great things to see in Joshua Tree, we just recommend you bring plenty of sunscreen and provisions.
With thousands of square miles of desert, rock, and unforgiving terrain, what better place to vacation to then the Mexican desert! If you’re looking for action, adventure, and adrenaline, and a bit of the unknown, there’s no better place than Mexico. Instead of recommending driving through Mexico to Ensenada and onward to the trails of Baja, we highly suggest doing one of Wide Open Baja’s tours.
If you’ve ever wanted to drive a race buggy on the same terrain as the world famous Baja 500 and 1000, you can do it through one of their experiences. Though not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, their multi-day excursions will last a lifetime in your memory. This author has done multiple track day, racing “experiences,” but none come close to the pure, and brutal, adventure that is taking a race car through the outback. And we’re not talking brutal in a bad sense: anything but. Brutal in that you will be exhausted, sore, and unable to live the experience down for quite some time.
This isn’t a luxury vacation in the traditional sense, it’s an endurance trip masked in a getaway, but it’s also one of those times when having a chaperone is better than aimlessly wandering around south of the border. We guarantee that if you decide to spend your pesos on an experience like this, you won’t regret it and you’ll be chomping at the bit to do it again.
[^1]: Photo by Michael Crenshaw
[^2]: Photo by Michael Crenshaw
Currently the full-time Editorial Director and Content Manager for RxSpeed.com, & contributing writer for Scout.com. He also loves photography, videography, his Shiba Inu Mia and driving sports cars.