california desert landscape

California Desert Landscapes

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OK, I know I said Arizona and New Mexico would be next, but as I went through my pictures I realized I had all this footage of the desert by the Salton Sea and Fountain of Youth. Many people who haven’t spent much time in California probably immediately think of the coast, with the beaches, or maybe lush green mountains. But California desert is a prominent figure in the southern part of the state especially, so I thought I’d throw this post in the mix.

California Desert Landscapes

Cactus in California? Yep, and plenty of it. Southern California (and a lot of central California) have their water delivered from other areas via aqueduct or conduit because of their dry, arid nature.

The Salton Sea and surrounding area are in the Colorado Desert, which encompasses both the Coachella and Imperial Valleys. So yes, the largest body of water in the state is in the middle of a desert. How’s that for contradictions?

What’s nice about southern California desert is the weather in the winter. When we stayed there from late December to late January, it was in the 60s and 70s most days. It did rain a few times but we were still able to get outdoors.

Trails by the Chocolate Mountains

california desert

How can you not love mountains named after chocolate? There is some debate about whether they actually look like chocolate or not (Ryan thinks they don’t) but I knew when I saw them that I wanted to get as close to them as possible.

The Fountain of Youth has organized hikes to the mountain, but unfortunately they happened on weekdays while I needed to be working. So Ryan and I set off on a weekend for our own hike.

The resort has developed trails with rock borders and signs and some outdoor art, but the trails just weren’t getting us close enough to the mountain. So we went off the beaten path and marched toward those chocolate peaks.

Sadly, when we were only a mile or two away from the base of the mountains we ran into a hard stop. There was a canal and on the other side was a sign that read:

“Danger: Unexploded Ordnance. Do Not Enter.”

california desert landscape

And so ended our journey to the mountains. I was not about to go past that sign (although Ryan was game).

Later, as we sat in the hot tubs, a winter resident told us he’d been going with a group to the Chocolate Mountains to run the trails for 20 years. He said they ride their mountain bikes to the base then run up, and they pass that sign along the way. There is a military artillery range nearby, “But they don’t do testing in that area,” he said.

He also mentioned that he and his friends agree they will scatter and disavow knowledge of each other if someone gets shot. Ha!

If you scroll to the bottom you will see a video we took while walking the trails. I also put in some footage both arriving to and leaving the area, so you can see some cacti hanging out in the California desert. =) I’ve also inserted a second video of our walk through the Big Tent at the Quartzsite RV Show If you missed it, this post has links to video tours of motorhomes at the show.

And next we’ll tackle Arizona and New Mexico–for real this time.

Before you go…


14 thoughts on “California Desert Landscapes

    • I agree it can be beautiful. The plant life and soil is definitely more interesting close-up, rather than glanced at while traveling down a highway.

  1. I dont know there are deserts in southern California and it contains the largest amount of water in the states. The landscape on the chocolate mountain seems so barren yet so remote, but gives me some peaceful vibe. Wondering what is the background music of the desert landscapes? It really soft and soothing.

  2. I didn’t realise that California had so much desert landscape. I’ve never been but all the pictures you see are of the beaches and palm trees etc! Im a big fan of hiking so would love to give that a go!

    • It sounds like you already have a full schedule! I’m sure Quartzsite and Niland will be waiting for you whenever you have more time. =)

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