Ufologist George Van Tassel built the Integratron in Landers, CA (near Joshua Tree), supposedly following instructions provided by visitors from the planet Venus.
  • Ufologist George Van Tassel built the Integratron in Landers, CA (near Joshua Tree), supposedly following instructions provided by visitors from the planet Venus.
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Oh, Joshua Tree. You are unique, far-flung and downright bizarre....

Outside of the yurt.

I first visited the quirky desert town several years ago and took to the creative community. While brainstorming road trip ideas one weekend, I settled on heading back to Joshua Tree. I also decided that it would be the perfect place to check an item off of my bucket list: camping in a yurt! I had been camping before, but glamping was new to me.

Yurt inside.

Yurt glamping

I booked an Airbnb yurt that was close to town. I arrived early in the evening to find a well-furnished yurt with a spacious bed, heater, towels, electric lanterns, and firewood.

I started a fire and cooked a foil packet of squash over the coals; an open flame does wonders for food! I spent the next few hours reading The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and watching the sun set from the hammock. Most of the stars were brightly shining by the time I got into bed. Stargazing in the desert is breathtaking: you can see the Milky Way, comets, satellites, and even planets. It is a Joshua Tree must-do.

The Integratron

After a restful night, I packed my bags and cashed in on my reservation for a sound bath at the Integratron. I am not usually one for pseudo-science approaches to health. However, participating in a sound bath was one of the coolest things that I've ever experienced.

I arrived at the geodesic dome with a group of other tourists. We ascended a set of stairs to a circular set of yoga mats. As we each settled on to a mat, a "sound healer" explained the building's history and what to expect during a sound bath. The healer played the largest bowl, and a deep echo reverberated throughout my body. I panicked at the sensation — my chakras felt anything but aligned. As an individual with sensory processing issues, did I make a big mistake by coming here?

Thankfully, the session started with a relaxation sequence, and I was able to calm my nerves. I reminded myself that I came to the Integratron to challenge my body and to achieve clarity of mind. With that reminder, I was able to enjoy the remaining minutes. I left the dome feeling rejuvenated and proud of myself.

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

More Joshua Tree

For those looking for a more active vacation, I recommend spending your weekend in Joshua Tree National Park. There are trails for every type of hiker and plenty of rocks to climb; the park is a naturalist's playground.

Joshua Tree sunset.

More into the arts scene? Check out the vintage stores, funky shops, and art galleries in downtown. If you are hungry, La Copine is worth the quick drive. Also, Pappy and Harriet's serves American/Tex Mex dishes. The establishment is best known for hosting live bands most nights. My Airbnb host recommends the Joshua Tree Saloon for socializing and a game of pool.

As I experienced, the Joshua Tree area knows how to keep its culture fresh, curious, and hip. Each trip brings new experiences, and not one is the same as the last.

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