Southern California is a place where nomads like to escape the winter season or just cruise along the coast, looking for the best surf breaks. While I like hanging by the ocean as much as the next explorer, sometimes you need to take a break from the big highways and busy coffee shops and look for some fun adventures more inland. In the past 3 years I’ve had the chance to explore the area with my van several times and I’ve been wanting to make a video about all the cool things to see if you happen to roam around So Cal.

Anza-Borrego State Park is an astonishing drive you won’t forget. If you go through the little town of Julian first you should pick up one of their delicious pie too! Once you’re out of the park you’ll reach the town of Borrego Springs, where you can get an amazing view of the surrounding mountains. Don’t forget to plan some time to look for the metal sculptures by artist Ricardo Breceda. There are roughly 130 of these giant metal animals and they pop up out of nowhere when you drive in the valley nearby. Don’t miss the elephants, the dinosaurs and the 350 foot-long sea dragon!

The Salton Sea has an interesting story. In the early 1900’s a breach occurred in a dike, which caused the Colorado River to flood the Salton Sink (an ancient sea) for two years. This incident created a 350 square miles (890 km2) lake, which is still California’s largest lake to this day. In the early 1940’s the Navy started developing projects in the area, which also brought some real estate development around the in-land sea. Unfortunately, too much runoff from agriculture made the water toxic and in 1978 the Navy abandoned the region. A bunch of hippies recuperated the concrete slabs and created Slab City right outside the town of Nyland. Salvation Mountain, a life-long masterpiece from artist Leonard Knight, and East Jesus, the garbage-made artsy village, are two must stops if you go through the area. Avoid weekends if you can, make sure to leave a donation and expect unique encounters.

Joshua Tree National Park is probably one of the most popular attractions around So Cal. For starters, there are dozens of options for hikes. If you don’t have your climbing gear but still like to give yourself a little « elevation challenge » you can pick a boulder and try to reach the summit for a better view. There’s also great BLM outside the park on Sunfair Road. Check out the weather forecast before you go since it’s a dry lake! If you’re looking for a shower you can stop at the Joshua Tree gift shop across the street from the Visitor Center. As you exit the park (Southern entrance) you should take Box Canyon Road instead of I10. You won’t regret it.

As you make your way back to the coast, you should take the Palms to Pines Highway (Route 74) from Palms Desert. You’ll be going from the desert to a wonderful National Forest and then winding through a beautiful valley before reaching the coast again.

We want to thank these fine brands for making this story possible:
VanCraft Rentals – If you’re around Oceanside CA, you should try out their reliable vans for a few days or weeks! Fun guaranteed.
Roam Mobility – If you’re a Canadian traveler or snowbird heading south, definitely check out Roam Mobility’s affordable US roaming plans! They kept us connected throughout our trip.
Nomad Goods – Quality chargers and accessories for your phone.

We also want to give a huge shout out to everyone we met along this trip:
Tasha Rivard
Katie and Evan
Daniel for sharing his secret oasis in the desert
Jason and Ashton
Lauren
Breanne and Lacey
Doug

All photos + Camera: Jf Lefebvre