The desert- Wiley's Well Campground, between Joshua Tree National Park and Anza Borrego. The "campground", apparently a loose term, provides upgraded boondocking and nothing more. There are vault toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings. A dump station is within 2 miles along the road.
It will be nice in March- highs of 80F, lows of 50F.
So why should you drive that distance just to boondock in the middle of a random desert? Because on Saturday we will be digging for geodes. What's a geode?
That's right, golf ball to grapefruit sized spherical rocks with crystals inside. And I guarantee you'll find some. Actually, not just some, but a lot. And you get to take them all home (legally).
Everyone will get to dig all they want! Even if you've never done it before, it's fun to do at least once. For reference, Marie originally had zero enthusiasm for this the first time we went. I practically had to drag her over there. But after we found the first one, a switch was hit, and she was deep in the rocks and dirt for the next 6 hours. It was dusk and I had packed up the car and she was still excavating layer after layer.
And if you don't like this idea, you can hang around, drink, eat, or read in the shade while the rest of us uncover crystals.
If you also join us on Friday or Sunday during the day, I have optional plans for various hikes with an assortment of friends who will be accompanying Marie and I. For instance, on the way out, we are stopping at the Big Painted Canyon/ Ladder Loop (7 to 10 miles) where we will hike through an awesome and colorful canyon, using rope ladders to get up and over obstacles while exploring to our heart's content.
$40 for Short Term Visitor Permit, payable upon arrival to the Camp Host by cash or check. This is valid for 2 weeks, one flat fee of $40 per trailer. Reservations are not available and site availability can unfortunately not be guaranteed, so as a last resort, be prepared to really
camp in the middle of nowhere.
Items to bring:
1. Water. This is basically boondocking, so you should bring everything that you need to be self sufficient. The most important reminder I will make is that there is NO water at this campground. 1 gallon per person per day at a minimum, and likely much much more depending upon your camping style.
2. Clothing/protection from the sun. At 80F and in direct sun during the day, you'll want to make sure you are fully protected in the desert. Hats, sunscreen, umbrellas/awnings, and possibly even lightweight long sleeves and pants are all recommended.
3. Digging gear. Although we can all share equipment, you should have at least one type of excavating implement per person so that everyone always has something to use if desired. There are really three types of useful tools: Shovels/ Pick axes for doing basic digging, pry bars for breaking down large layers or quickly removing big-sized rocks, and rock picks for doing the careful excavation near the geodes themselves. Rock picks are simply fun to use for this task, and can be had for $20-30 at most big box home improvement stores. And don't forget a bucket or bin for saving and protecting your excavated treasures!!!
4. Access to the beds by vehicle varies every year due to how the weather has changed the desert. Almost any vehicle that can tow a trailer will have no problem getting there, and I saw everything from little Honda cars to big Diesel trucks at the geode bed excavation sites. However, if you are really apprehensive about the driving portion, please don't let that stop you. If necessary, I am willing to do a couple shuttle trips of people in my vehicle (which I guarantee is more than capable).
One final note/disclaimer:
Reaching the Wiley's Well Campground from I-10 is achieved via a wide but sand/gravel road. It was not yet paved the whole way as of my last trip in 2011. Most of the RV's I saw (including 30+ footers) were having no problem but taking it nice and slow. Expect to go slowly on this last leg of the drive.