Joshua Trees, Desert Grandeur, and a Boulder Garden in Pioneertown

Stunning blue sky, clouds and land merge into serenity in Pioneertown.

Stunning blue sky, clouds, a speck of moon, and land merge into serenity in Pioneertown.

Even though Pioneertown counts fewer than 500 residents, this quaint Western-themed community hangs on with the tenacity of a cactus thorn buried deep, but instead of a sharp pain, visitors are left with fond memories of desert beauty where quirky is an everyday thing.

A company of Joshua trees stands guard along a hiking trail.

A company of Joshua trees stands guard along a hiking trail.

With a little help this Joshua tree still stands.

With a little help, this Joshua tree still stands along a roadside outside of Pioneertown.

First established in the late 1940s as a convenient locale for Hollywood to film Westerns, Pioneertown is about 125 miles east of Los Angeles, a few miles west of Joshua Tree National Park and about 40 miles north of Palm Springs. Cowboy movie and television legend Roy Rogers helped found the town and it was named after a band he was in, “Sons of the Pioneers.”

The desert landscape of Yucca Valley just waits to be explored.

The desert landscape of Yucca Valley just waits to be explored as the moon wanes in the morning sky.

For those who don’t wish to stay in one of the few local hotels (reviews for some on tripadvisor.com are mixed) a number of short-term rentals can be found on websites such as airbnb.com and vrbo.com. Those options are located beyond town and offer apartments, cottages and homes accessed by dirt roads that wind among the hills and boulders of the area.

A Joshua tree, full of bloom basks in the warm sun.

A Joshua tree, ready to bloom, basks in the warm sun.

Staying in one of these places is transformative. As soon as you close the car door, thoughts of city noise, traffic congestion and hectic lifestyles disappear. The stars fill the sky at night in a glittering array and during a full moon you can easily see your shadow from the reflected light.

There are many trails to hike with only nature to contend with.

The moon, a mere speck, dots the blue sky above one of the many hiking trails.

Another advantage to staying outside of town puts you, in many cases, just a doorstep away from a wonderful hike. The terrain is very much like that at Joshua Tree National Park, but one does not have to contend with the 1.6 million visitors who enjoyed JTNP in 2014. In Pioneertown you often have the hiking trail all to yourself.

A dove comes in for a landing next to its mate on a sun-filled morning.

A dove comes in for a landing next to its mate on a sun-filled morning.

Wildflowers add a bit of color before the summer sun raises the temperature.

Delicate wildflowers add a dash of color before the summer sun raises the temperature and bakes out the season’s colors.

The sandstone boulders have been weathered over the ages.

The sandstone boulders of the Yucca Valley have been weathered over the ages.

Wilderness hikes promise that gems of discovery will be found along the way. Animals, wildflowers (in season), and amazing Joshua trees stand guard among the sandstone boulders. And if one knows where to look, or has a friendly local guide, you might even catch a glimpse of some petroglyphs left by earlier First Americans.

Locals who know the area well can lead you to the site of these petroglyphs.

Locals who know the area well can lead you to the site of these petroglyphs.

For those more spiritual, there are a number of active Buddhist temples near the area, and a one-of-a-kind venue known locally as “God’s Way Love,” it is the creation of a man known to all simply as, “Garth” is a Pioneertown landmark. Actually, his name is Garth Bowles and his creation is known as “Boulder Gardens,” an on-going transformation of land he has been working on for a number of years.

Garth Bowles is the visionary who created Boulder Gardens.

Garth Bowles is the visionary who created Boulder Gardens.

Garth lives in the teepee in the background at Boulder Gardens.

Garth lives in the teepee that was long-ago coated with cement for permanence, in the background, at Boulder Gardens.

Within the confines of Boulder Gardens are trails, water features, sculptures and meditation areas where travelers and visitors can commune with nature in a peaceful and accepting environment. There are accommodations, but they are rustic, and visitors range from those seeking solace and a place to meditate to those with lifestyles that fluctuate from bohemian to slacker.

Throughout Boulder Gardens, meditative spots and serenity abound.

Throughout Boulder Gardens, meditative spots and serenity abound.

At first glance, particularly for folks from a big city, Pioneertown may not seem to have much to offer. But once you let the pace of urban living slip from your thoughts, you begin to see a place where important things are all around you and the wonders of nature can fill your imagination and soul.

The desert holds beauty and peace and all that and more can be found in Pioneertown.

The desert holds beauty and peace and all that and more can be found in Pioneertown.

joshuatreegatewaycommunities.com/wp/project/pioneertown/

nps.gov/jotr/index.htm

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pioneertown,_California

youtube.com/watch?v=L2vrbzyR18A

 

 

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