A desert vacation offers a multitude of delights, from gazing at a mesmerizing dark night’s sky filled with millions upon millions of bright glowing stars to taking part in outdoor pursuits under bright blue skies or just relaxing at the pool, soaking in the sunshine.
Here is a look at five of the best destinations for a desert getaway.
Tucson, Arizona offers the chance to take part in all sorts of outdoor activities like rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking and even caving. But it’s also one of the best places for stargazing. Visit the Kitt Peak National Observatory, known for possessing one of the most extensive collections of research telescopes on earth. Located high above the Sonoran Desert, visitors can view some of the most incredible night skies in the world through its Nightly Observing Program at the visitor center.
Golf enthusiasts may want to stay at the Omni Tucson National Resort, named one of the Top 75 Golf Resorts by Golf Digest, home to an 18-hole championship golf course and an 18-hole desert-style golf course.
Palm Springs, California
For nearly 100 years, Palm Springs has been known as the ultimate desert playground for Hollywood stars to relax and escape the chaos of show business, but surprisingly, you’ll also find a number of resorts that are quite affordable, even for the average Joe. Enjoy browsing numerous art galleries and boutiques under sunny skies, towering palms and the backdrop of the San Jacinto Mountains.
Not only can you explore a fascinating desert landscape, your can also venture through a pristine mountain wilderness by taking the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to the Mountain Station. You’ll rise nearly 6,000 feet in elevation through the sheer cliffs of Chino Canyon where you can enjoy breathtaking vistas as well as hiking 54 miles of trails.
The Palm Canyon Resort offers affordable luxury with a wide range of spa services as well as a stunning, oversized swimming pool, poolside bar, and waterslides.
Moab is a perfect desert destination for thrill-seekers, as a colossal outdoor playground for climbers, hikers, mountain bikers and paddlers, but it’s also become increasingly popular for wine enthusiasts and foodies. Discover wineries nestled among fiery red sandstone canyons as well as lots of locally sourced foods.
Castle Creek Winery at Red Cliffs Lodge offers a number of tours as well as complimentary tastings from noon to 7 p.m. each day. The lodge provides outstanding accommodations on the banks of the Colorado River, surrounded by spectacular 2000-feet high cliffs. It also features a sparkling swimming pool that sits among the red rocks, open from about mid-April to mid-October.
Joshua Tree, California
Step into Joshua Tree and you might just feel as if you’re walking onto another planet. Filled with bizarrely-shaped plants indigenous to the region, like the Joshua tree, as well as massive boulders that tower hundreds of feet into the sky, the landscape has the appearance of a scene from a Sci-Fi flick. Joshua Tree National Park is a photographer’s, hiker’s, and climber’s dream, while the village of Joshua Tree has a unique charm as an artists’ enclave home to an eclectic mix of nature lovers, artists and hipsters in addition to a number of highly rated eateries.
Starlight Villas offers unique and affordable vacation rentals just steps from downtown and the park, including an outdoor Jacuzzi, ideal for soaking sore muscles and relaxing your cares away while staring up at the clear starry sky.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
This hidden gem is home to the tallest sand dunes in North America, although they’re dwarfed by the 13,000-foot peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. In this less-traveled national park that’s sprawled across part of southern Colorado’s San Luis Valley, you can go sand sledding or sand boarding, horseback riding, hiking and more.
Directly adjacent to the park’s southern border, Zapata Ranch, home of a large bison herd that roams freely across 50,000 of its 103,000 acres, offers overnight lodging that includes three meals prepared by a gourmet chef as well as a hot tub.