When most people think of Spring Break they think of co-eds on the beach. But Spring Break is a great time to explore nature. Ambassador Sarah tells us why we should explore the desert during the spring time.

“We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope.” – Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

It’s getting to be that time of year, whether you love winter or not, that, if you are like me, you start longing for those longer days, spring blossoms, and warm sunshine. The two best parts of a spring break trip are planning the trip, and then actually going on the trip. There have been studies that show that anticipation of travel or fun can be just as important to your mental health and well being as the trip itself. This is even more incentive for thinking about those spring break travel plans. My mom and I will be going to be going to Hawaii for the first time this March and I’ve been happily planning and dreaming about the trip since last September.

 

If your travel plans can’t take you across the ocean, the desert is a great place to feel like you are in another world (unless you already live in the desert, and then it might just feel like being home). I’ve been fortunate to spend some time rock climbing in Joshua Tree this last year in October and hiked in Scottsdale, Arizona, the previous October. Even though my time there was in fall, the spring in the desert can be a perfect time to see the sights before it gets really hot.

Joshua Tree National Park is a few hours from the Los Angeles airport but you can consider, like my group did, flying into a smaller airport such as Ontario, California, which lets you avoid a good portion of L.A. traffic and just head straight east in a rental car. There’s some great desert camping in the park, but the group I was with rented a wonderful little house in the small town of Joshua Tree. We were able to shower, have our own rooms, cook breakfasts, and enjoy nights by the fire pit outside in our little enclosed patio. Although we spent most of our time trying to scout rock climbs, there’s some amazing hiking spots in the park where you can feel like you are away from all of the tourists who might just be driving through. And then, there are the Joshua Trees, which are actually cacti but are tall, resilient, and magical.

 

Phoenix, Arizona is not a place I had ever considered as a hiking destination, but when I flew there for a conference and headed to Scottsdale, I was amazed to see all of the hiking options. My work colleagues fortunately planned for the conference like I had, with a daypack and running shoes, and we spent the time before the conference began out on some really fun and beautiful trails. We hiked at Pinnacle Peak Park right before sunset and at Echo Trail early the next morning. Echo Trail was really steep, with a railing to hold on steep sections, and summit views of Phoenix and the seemingly endless desert on the other side. It was a trail that I would definitely do again, although it did get busy quickly, and hot!

If you’ve never been the deserts of southwest America, I encourage you to do some searching online. Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California, and New Mexico can be fantastic spring locations for your next vacation or hiking adventures.

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