To experience the best part of camping in Joshua Tree, you’ll need to look up.☝?
Isolated from light pollution, the darkness of the desert results in a brilliant night sky, typically showcasing a blanket of stars unrivaled in clarity. Even better is a visit during the full moon, illuminating the landscape and eliminating the need for your trusty headlamp. So when my group of pals found out that the next Super Moon was fast approaching, we knew where we needed to go for prime viewing.
Sky Camp’s Desert Mountain Majesty is the perfect (and most aptly named) place for a group of friends to enjoy such a phenomenon. The spacious property is big enough to accommodate 12 people, with its three separate campsites overlooking the breathtaking expanse of valley below. It’s surrounded by nothing but rocks and views, with plenty of cooking amenities – each campsite has its own grill – and a cozy fire pit. Isolation, food, and roaring flames to gather around: what else could you need for an outdoor celebration?
Our caravan arrived at noon, eventually heading up a dirt road on one of the many hills just north of the village of Joshua Tree. According to land owner Kimberley Bowers, the steep ascent to Sky Camp is actually what inspired its name. “Every time I drove up there I felt like I was driving into the sky,” she told us with a laugh.
We took our time settling in, getting to know the property and all its amenities. Sky Camp boasts a variety of hangout options: a renovated trailer adorably outfitted with benches and lanterns, plenty of picnic tables, and a central patio complete with a wood-burning stove and woven chairs swinging gently from an awning overhead.
Lunch was served, and not a moment too soon. Everyone was ravenous, and happily partook in a selection of sandwiches, microbrews, and snack bars from ReGrained. ReGrained’s innovative “Eat Beer” bars are baked with spent grain harvested from a craft brewery, simultaneously reducing food waste and creating a product packed with nutrients and flavor. We chowed down on two beer-inspired flavors: Honey Almond IPA and Chocolate Coffee Stout.
No trip to Joshua Tree is complete without ample exploration within its namesake national park, so the group took a short drive from our hilltop home to the desert wonderland below. We decided on the Pine City trail, a relatively mellow hike with big rewards. After a flat, two-mile walk through some of Joshua Tree’s most picturesque scenery, we arrived at a cluster of sandstone boulders that served as a perfect jungle gym until the sun was low on the horizon.
After taking in the sunset, it was time to head back for festivities in the moonlight. Cocktails and a pre-dinner dance party kicked the night off, and after feasting on grilled chicken and roasted veggies we headed down the little stone staircase to chill out around the campfire and gaze at the Super Moon, still a glorious sight in spite of the cloud cover.
No campout is complete without s’mores, and we were lucky enough to get our sweet supplies from Mallow Mallow. Balancing classic nostalgia with artisanal sensibility, Mallow Mallow creates beautiful s’mores kits with ingredients lovingly made in-house. They offer some pretty creative flavor combinations, our favorite being The American: bourbon-bacon marshmallows and creamy milk chocolate sandwiched between two thick graham crackers.
The next morning was spent lounging in hammocks, sipping coffee, and taking advantage of Sky Camp’s most luxurious feature: an open-air shower, complete with dependable warm water and stunning desert views.
One of Sky Camp’s unique features is the collection of custom-built art installations decorating the property. Kimberley always dreamed of curating an art park filled with murals and sculpture. When she bought the land that would eventually become Sky Camp, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to combine her passions. She commissioned friends and local artists to create the colorful pieces, encouraging them to camp on the property and draw inspiration from the desert.
“We all live busy lives,” she says. “Things move fast in this day and age, and when you’re up at Sky Camp everything just seems to stand still. It’s quiet, and you can see all the stars at night… it works its magic on you, and certainly on an artist.”
We packed up and said goodbye to our home away from home, each of us taking a box of Bearded Brothers bars as a parting gift. Using mostly raw ingredients, Bearded Brothers crafts bars that pack an energetic punch. We were impressed with the simple list of ingredients displayed on each compostable wrapper – kale, blueberries, and chia seeds to name a few – and the bars proved to be an outstanding, super clean fuel source for our Saturday afternoon hike.
As it is, Sky Camp’s Desert Mountain Majesty is an idyllic spot to spend a night (or two!) outside, but Kimberley isn’t satisfied yet – she wants the space to continue improving and evolving as time goes on
“As the landowner of Sky Camp, what I love about it is that it’s a constant evolution,” she says. “It’s a creative project, it’s just going to keep unfolding. It’s never ending – and that’s a really fun place to be.” A really fun place indeed: after experiencing Sky Camp for myself, I can wholeheartedly agree.
Jennifer Kotlewski is a Los Angeles based writer, humanitarian, and wildflower junkie. You can see what kind of trouble she’s currently getting into via instagram @jenkotlewski.
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