Sunday, 4/11/2021 - Joshua Tree National Park
We set off from our departure points this morning aboard a deluxe motorcoach for the Coachella Valley. No visit to the Coachella Valley is complete without a stop at Hadley Fruit Orchards. Founded in 1931, this southern California landmark has provided a friendly place to shop for premium quality Medjool dates, dried fruit, nuts, hand-mixed trail mixes, honey, preserves, freshly-ground peanut butter and a variety of gifts. Head to the snack for the beloved date shake! As we continue further west into the Coachella Valley in the shadow of the San Jacinto Mountains, our onboard geography professor/guide will provide an extensive explanation of the Valley’s formation and its unique geologic and geographic traits. This afternoon, we arrive in Joshua Tree National Park. Viewed from the road, this desert park only hints at its vitality. Closer examination reveals a fascinating variety of plants and animals that make their home in this land shaped by strong winds, unpredictable torrents of rain, and climatic extremes. A rich cultural history and surreal geologic features add to the attraction of this place. With 700 species of plants, Joshua Tree is renowned for its plant diversity. No wonder that when the area was first proposed for preservation in the early 1930s, the name suggested was Desert Plants National Park. We’ll enjoy an included picnic lunch in the Park followed by multiple sightseeing stops to discover a unique landscape created by two distinct desert ecosystems coming together. The Park is characterized by boulders and buttresses, rugged mountains, gold mining ruins, and desert plains dotted with those wacky namesake trees (actually a type of yucca). See the huge rock formations surrounded by a healthy population of Joshua Tree, pinyon, juniper and oak along with mesquite, yucca, nolina and various cacti in Hidden Valley. Admire the views at Keys View (elevation 5,152 feet) where on a clear day exists a sweeping panorama of the Coachella Valley including Palm Springs, the Salton Sea and the San Andreas Fault, as well as two of Southern California’s biggest summits: Mount San Jacinto and Mount Gorgonio. We continue past Skull Rock to Cholla Cactus Garden for a walk through thousands of densely concentrated, naturally growing cholla cactus. This evening we arrive at the upscale Fantasy Springs Resort Casino located in Indio. Walk through the doors of this premier high-rise hotel and you’re immediately transported to a world of elegance, exciting ambience and good luck! This award-winning resort features luxurious hotel rooms, an award-winning, smoke-free casino with 1,800 slots and 40 Vegas-style table games and multiple restaurants and lounges.