Landers, CA, 19 miles from Joshua Tree National Park’s west entrance, is an undiscovered small town in the Mojave Desert. This off-the-beaten-path locale awaits offers unique and sometimes quirky discoveries.
Palm Springs and Coachella visitors often head up to Joshua Tree National Park. Unless you are a hiker or a rock climber, a couple of times through the park will enable you to experience the high points of this beautiful national treasure. Let’s expand our journey in the area and head to Landers, California, 19 miles from the park’s west entrance gate.
Landers, California, is an unincorporated location in Homestead Valley, including Flamingo Heights, Johnson Valley, and Yucca Mesa. Located in the Mojave Desert, it is an easy one-hour journey from Palm Springs. Thus, it is also accessible for a day trip from Los Angeles and San Diego. Here are the things to see in Landers, CA.
Integratron in Landers
One of the most written and talked about attractions in Landers is the Integratron. I have stopped there often, for the grounds are delightful to walk and explore the art that pops up in various corners of the enclosed property. Benches made of skis provide a place to sit and observe the quiet of the desert.
However, the real draw is the Integratron, a dome-shaped structure built in the 1950s. It is believed to have healing and mystical properties through the experience of a sound bath.
I have experienced the sound bath twice, both of which felt very different. I can best describe it as saying that I feel the vibes from the sound down to my bones.
After the one-hour event, hammocks situated on the grounds welcome you just to be. I relax there and wait to feel grounded again before I continue my exploration.
Pro Tip: Be sure to head to the Integratron website and make reservations before you plan to be in the area, for it sells out.
Gubler Orchids are Amazing to See in Landers, CA
The last thing one expects to see in the desert is a facility for growing and shipping thousands of orchids. However, on the road to the Integratron is a large expanse of land covered with greenhouses—home of Gubler Orchids. There is a large parking lot in front, empty a lot of the time because people are unaware you can come here and have a tour.
Once you park your car, you enter a showroom, which appears to take your breath away. As you can see, shelves and tables are full of orchids in intense colors. Sizes vary; the varieties will have you walking the aisle and snapping pictures.
Thousands of Venus fly traps are pampered off to one side of the space, from tiny seedlings to plants. Venus fly traps and the orchids are shipped off to nurseries when they mature.
Pro Tip: If you go about six weeks before a holiday like Valentine’s Day or Easter, you will see the orchids in full bloom before they shipped off to their destinations. Be sure you wear closed-toe shoes if you plan to take a tour.
Giant Rock Offers a Unique Experience
There is a caveat for this journey to see Giant Rock. You will need a four-wheel drive since the roads are dirt—okay, sand—and the roads to the rock are often not graded and contain deep ruts. However, if you are in such a vehicle, this is an extraordinary experience.
You will come to many Ys in the road when driving to Giant Rock. On the way, I’ve learned always to take the road to the left. The drive from the Integratron is 3 miles, with few buildings in sight and those only at the beginning of the three-mile journey.
Then it happens: you go over a hill, and there is it—considered to be the largest free-standing rock in the world—seven stories high. Perhaps there may be a jeep parked near it, and from a distance, it appears to be a toy car to give you a sense of the enormity of the rock.
Stories abound about existential aliens having embraced this area. As a result, conventions have focused on unexplained extraterrestrial phenomena being held in this remote spot. After walking around Giant Rock and looking out over the vast horizon, I concluded that it would be perfect if I were an alien looking for a place to land.
Dining in Landers Area
While there is much to see in Landers, you might also be looking for a bite. Dining opportunities are few in this area. However, one of the most outstanding restaurants in the area is on your way to the attractions. It is located in Flamingo Heights. A fun factoid: I learned from a local that the site is named Flamingo Heights because the sunsets routinely display the colors of the flamingos as the sun dips behind the mountains.
La Copine focuses on farm-to-table produce, and its outstanding cuisine has caught the attention of international food reviewers. The restaurant is usually open Thursday through Sunday, 11 am to 4 pm. You will want to check the website for the days and times they are open, for they change during the seasons. There is both indoor and outdoor dining. Whether you are a local or a celebrity who has discovered this restaurant, you must wait for a table, for there are no reservations.
Where to Stay in Landers Area
A friend and I had the good fortune of staying at a dear friend’s cabin located on the Mesa on the way to Landers. We marveled at the quiet and watched as the coyote walked the perimeter of the land outside their property—built to help secure the protection of their delightful dogs.
Then, it was time to explore. We traveled down roads where we had never been. We were surprised at the beautiful places we discovered during this sightseeing tour. Some of them were residential homes, but some large plots of land with buildings had names, which we determined were the names of short-term vacation rentals.
We confirmed our suspicions and discovered many types of short-term vacation rentals. Some of them were rustic, but some dome-shaped huts were more than likely labeled as Glamping Sites. For those who don’t know, glamping is outdoor camping with amenities such as beds, electricity, and access to plumbing.
If you want a conventional place to stay or an RV Park, you will want to head down the hill to the Pioneertown area, about 18 miles from the Landers. A reminder: any place you stay, you will experience the quiet of the evening, except for coyotes calling and a sky full of brilliant star shows.
Stars are Magnificent to See in Landers, CA
No matter where you stay, you will want to plan time to sit outside and look up at the black-ink star-studded sky. Anywhere you are at night around Landers, you cannot help but be in awe at the number of stars you see. Away from the lights of the Coachella Valley, this area is renowned for helping you see the first falling star you have seen in your lifetime. Oh, there are also the fantastic sunsets.
Articles Related to Landers, CA
When You Explore Landers, CA
If you are looking forward to exploring a location somewhat off the grid, the trip to the Landers area in the Mojave Desert is a good option. Wi-Fi options are few for the nearby mountains and sparsity of cell towers. Thus, posting picturesque catches for our social media accounts will have to wait.
Bask in the glow of your discoveries in Landers, California. Count yourself fortunate that you could explore a relatively undiscovered area near Joshua Tree National Park. We invite you to check out Wander With Wonder for more to do in the Palm Springs area or elsewhere in Southern California.
What is There to See in Landers, California?