“Paradise is exactly where you are right now…”

Welcome to paradise…

We had just met Rio & Kitty in the local hot tub. They looked like a couple right out of a corny Vegas mob movie -> old-timers with big hair, big bling and a leopard-skin bathing suit with all the busty “fill” to make it work. They’d travelled here on a whim 25 years ago in a 27-foot Winnebago with 5 kids and decided they couldn’t leave. In fact, the kids were the ones that begged them to stay.

“You guys enjoying your stay in paradise?” they asked

It was an interesting question.

You see Desert Hot Springs is a quirky little place. Your very first thoughts as you drive into town might be more along the lines of “What a dump…”. The first thing you see as you enter the valley is the massive eye-sore of San Gorgonio Pass wind-farm. Then you take lonely Dillon Road into what can only be described as mobile home heaven in the desert. It’s a panacea of trailer parks, one after the other with a few run-down shops and long tracts of flat desert land inbetween. And the local grocery store doesn’t exactly inspire confidence with its’ fully barred windows. It’s not the best first impression.

The massive wind-farms in the San Gorgonia Pass just outside of town

But then something astonishing happens. Like a big, comforting blanket the place just grows on you. First you sink yourself into a soothing mineral pool with view of a fiery red desert sunset. Then you meet a couple of the locals and get invited like old family to chat and  join the pack. Then you take a 3-hour hike in the hills and soak in all the deep, barren, fabulous beauty that is the desert. Add-on some pure puurrrfect desert winter weather and the majestic San Jacinto mountains in the background. Before long you’re liking the place and in a few days you’re just outright loving it.

The fabulous view from San Jacinto mountain

It’s exactly the same thing that happened last year when we came here. Desert Hot Springs may be the outcast neighbour of ritzy home-of-the-stars Palm Springs, but it is most definitely the place to be. We loved it so much last time that we decided we just had to come back. Same place (Sam’s Family Spa), same fantastic mineral pools and same exact wonderful impression.

Hiking the mountains in Desert Hot Springs

And we did the whole tour all over again -> the Aerial Tram (they had 5 inches of fresh snow on the peak this time), Palm Springs Village FestFarmers Markets, unlimited spa-soaking, and long hikes in the surrounding hills. I even got the chance to meet up with fulltime RVers Terry and Martha from Gypsy Life Journal who were lounging at Lake Cahuilla County Park (nice spot, by the way and they accept Passport America mid-week).

Our original plan was actually to stay here a month, but more nutty travel plans got in the way (more on that story to come.).

In the meantime if you wonder what I’m doing  just imagine me lounging in paradise. ‘Coz that’s exactly where I am…

Ahhhh…the fabulous winter desert!

Oh yeah…this is the life!

Gorgeous desert with San Jacinto in the background

Street vendors at the Palm Springs Village Fest

Another great hike in the surrounding mountains

Terry, Martha and lovely pooch Charlie in front of their rig

29 Responses to Lounging in Paradise – Desert Hot Springs, CA

  1. Sue Malone says:

    Nina, you captured it just perfectly! We fell in love with DHS last winter, even in the rain. Just as you described, it grew on us, and we are heading back there this January for an escape from our winter snows. For me, it was the hikes, the open desert, and those incredible hot spring pools, clear, clean, hot, and incredible. Loved your post, but that is nothing unusual.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Well we’re TOTALLY of the same mind about this place then. I completely agree on the hikes. We’re doing alot more of them this year and I’m really enjoying the nature.
      Nina

  2. Jerry B. says:

    It really is a great place to relax. We’ve not stayed at Sam’s but have stayed at two other parks on Dillon Rd, they’re all really super and a good stopoff for a few days on the way to Joshua or the Imperial Valley. Whats your plan from here, Salton Sea, Joshua, Anza Borrego??

    • libertatemamo says:

      Next stop is going to be Phoenix. Got some friends in the area (for Thanksgiving) plus I’m gonna be flying out somewhere exotic for another one of my mad adventures…more on that to come.
      Nina

  3. Marsha says:

    We also loved that area. Have you visited the Salton Sea or don’t miss…Dos Palmas Preserve. Here is a link to our blog for that area.
    http://wheresweaver.blogspot.com/2010/02/around-salton-sea.html
    What a cool place!
    Enjoy your stay in a little piece of heaven on Earth!

    • libertatemamo says:

      THANKS so much for that link Marsha. We haven’t yet been to the Salton Sea although it’s on our “list”. We probably won’t make it this time around, but I’m bookmarking your post for when we do go.
      Nina

  4. Henrik Breum says:

    This park is also one of our favourites. Don’t forget to go to Joshua Tree while you are this close. You will enjoy the scenery here.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Henrik,
      Oh yes I LOVE Joshua Tree. We went for an all-day visit there last year. Might have to see if we can fit in another trip this time around.
      Nina

  5. We haven’t bought into that area yet, although we have stayed a little while in the vicinity. Thanks, but no thanks from Our Life on Wheels!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Well it’s true it may not be a spot for everyone. If you like hot/mineral pools and haven’t tried them yet tho’ I recommend another go at the place.
      Nina

  6. You guys go to the BEST places. I like quirky towns a lot. And, I think the wind farm would excite, rather than repel, me. The only thing prettier would be a solar farm. Anything but a fossil fuel farm.

    Roxanne

  7. Brent says:

    The contrasts sound interesting. Might have to make this a stop on our way down.

    • libertatemamo says:

      I think you guys would enjoy it! If you haven’t seen Joshua Tree that’s another great little spot to visit. There is opportunity for boondocking near the entrance on both sides.
      Nina

  8. Debby says:

    Thanks for this review as I have been wondering about this spot. We are in Palm Desert and may take a drive in and spend the day – are you guys still there??

    • libertatemamo says:

      Oh yeah! We’re still here! Wanna come by for a visit? I’ll e-mail you our details/number. Nina

    • libertatemamo says:

      Ooops…can’t seem to figure out an e-mail for you. Feel free to e-mail me (nina@fussing.com). We’re in site #196 for another week or so.
      Nina

  9. Yair says:

    We found the wind farm to be super-cool and didn’t see it as an eyesore. Maybe we would have felt differently if we lived in the area, but it was the first massive scale wind farm that we passed through.

    Were things gusty when you drive through? How was your big rig with the winds?

    • libertatemamo says:

      Those wind farms are definitely impressive. Like everything here they’re growing on me :)

      As for the wind it was fine the day we arrived. A few cross-gusts but nothing too bad. We “try” to avoid driving in big winds as much as possible. Our 2 months in New Mexico this past Spring with lots of wind (Spring-time winds in NM are famous!) taught us that lesson.
      Nina

  10. There’s nothing better than soaking in hot springs, particularly when there’s a bite to the air! We’ve never made it out there, but when we lived in southern CA it seemed like everyone had been to Palm Springs at one time or another.

  11. jade says:

    We’ve been to Palm Springs and Joshua Tree but haven’t made it here- will have to add it to our list for next time since we live in LA it’s a pretty easy day trip.

  12. [...] had a rock hit our CR-V in Desert Hot Springs back in November which left a small, but definite crack in the window. Being conscientious folks we [...]

  13. [...] had a rock hit our CR-V in Desert Hot Springs back in November which left a small, but definite crack in the window. Being conscientious folks we [...]

  14. [...] highway in the entire country (spectacular Hwy 395) before we land our jacks for a month of spa at Desert Hot Springs. After then? Likely some random boondocking in the SW desert, maybe a little jaunt to San Diego and [...]

  15. [...] written about San Jacinto Mountain before and it remains one of my fav outings around Desert Hot Springs. The Aerial Tram, the world’s [...]

  16. [...] ($520) is an absolute deal, plus you get unlimited spa access. Lots of space all around the park to hike and explore the hills, plus you are within reasonable driving distance of Salton Sea, Johsua Tree and Palm Springs with [...]

  17. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for that looking to go the springs now we will is there any good free spots to park the RV for a couple of days….

    • libertatemamo says:

      Yes. Joshua Tree NP has free overflow camping on both north and south sides. Good places to park for a few days.
      Nina

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