Escape from the city life and experience the solitude, stars and endless blue skies in our desert vacation rentals. Just 120 miles from L.A. and 30 miles from Palm Springs, Joshua Tree is a short drive to an oasis of discovery. Its nearly perfect year-around weather and smog free air attract people from all over looking for a place to get a way from it all.
The Mojave Desert is home to more than 2000 species of birds, the endangered desert tortoise, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, bobcats and coyote. Protecting this sensitive ecosystem from urban sprawl and over development has become an important issue for many private citizens and organizations alike.
Besides being the birthplace of Joshua Tree National Park, the Mojave Desert also contains the Mojave National Preserve; as well as the lowest and hottest place in North America: Death Valley at 300 feet below sea level; where the temperature often surpasses 120 (F) 49 (C) in late July and early August. Zion National Park in Utah, lies at the junction of the Mojave, the Great Basin Desert and the Colorado Plateau.
Want something different? Within a few minutes are hot springs, horseback riding, gambling, outlet stores, tram rides, ATV riding, and more. Joshua Tree, CA continues to grow every year as a vacation hot spot with people searching out the Joshua Tree Music Festival, BhaktiFest, Pappy & Harriets, High Desert Test Sites, the Integratron and more.
The Mojave Desert
Located in Southern California’s Mojave/Colorado deserts, Joshua Tree National Park welcomes over a million visitors every year. The park offers rock climbing, hiking, sight seeing, biking, camping, bird watching, star gazing, and exploring. This amazing park looks simple at first glance but its surreal geologic features will have a lasting impression.
The park encompasses some of the most interesting geologic displays found in our California's deserts. Joshua Tree National Park marks the point where two large desert ecosystems come together. Below 3,000 feet, the Colorado Desert encompasses the eastern part of the park and features beautiful cacti, wild flowers and palm trees. The higher, moister, and slightly cooler Mojave Desert is the special habitat of the ancient Joshua Tree.
Joshua Tree National Park provides space for finding freedom from our everyday routines, for self- discovery, as well as a refuge for the human spirit. Joshua Tree is the gateway community to the West Entrance of Joshua Tree National Park, an 800,000 acre wilderness preserve with groves of Joshua Trees, incredible multi-colored, granite boulders and some of the best rock climbing in the world.
Things to do in Joshua Tree National Park
Rock Climbing is a sport that people from all age groups can enjoy (we climb with our nieces and nephews ages 5 to 18 and our 4 year old son!) and I have heard countless stories from people who have used climbing to overcome addictions, build self confidence, get in shape and be in touch with nature. Most people who climb feel the natural “high” that can be addicting, so prepare yourself!
If you have never rock climbed before, we highly suggest going with a professional guide to teach you the basics. You can do this in a group or one-on-one with the instructor. The Rio House is full of many rock climbing books as well as climbing pictures to inspire those who love the sport or are thinking of trying it!
Hiking in the desert can make you feel worlds away from city life. With the wide open space and prehistoric looking geography you can’t help but experience a sense of wonder for this amazing place. There are so many places to explore from old mining camps, historic homes built into the rocks, hidden oasis where native people once settled, view points where you can see in every direction and so much more. Joshua Tree hiking books are in each of our homes for your use and we are happy to recommend our favorite hikes to you.
Anyone who has been to the desert knows why we brag about our desert night skies. There is nothing like lying in a hammock under a massive spread of stars blanketing the sky - the constellations and Milky Way are clearly visible and amazing to behold!. According to the BBC, 99% of the continental United States (and two thirds of the world's population) never see a truly dark, starry sky. The Mojave Desert is one of the last places left in the United States where you can still see the Milky Way with the naked eye. All of our rentals include plenty of outdoor seating and lounging for enjoying the night sky.
Photography in the Mojave Desert is inspiring. The light is always shifting and playing against the landscape in ways you don’t see in other places. The beauty of dawn on an ancient Joshua Tree or the shadows playing on the decaying wood of a homestead cabin make photography in Joshua Tree something everyone can appreciate.
Joshua Tree’s resident bird species: roadrunner, phainopepla, mockingbird, verdin, cactus wren, rock wren, mourning dove, Le Conte’s thrasher, and Gambel’s quail can be sighted in and around the park throughout the year. We hear lovely stories from our guests about the number of birds who visit the backyards of all of our homes.
Wildflower season is our most popular time of the year here in the desert. Book early because our homes fill up fast! The extent and timing of spring wildflower blooms in Joshua Tree National Park may vary from one year to the next. When you catch any part of the bloom, it is spectacular!
Bikes and four-wheel drive vehicles are welcome in the park. For your own safety and for the protection of the natural features of this park, please stay on established roads.
Vacation rentals are an excellent alternative to small hotels which have limited amenities and minimal privacy. Vacation rental is a term in the travel industry meaning renting out a furnished apartment or house on a temporary basis to tourists as an alternative to a hotel or other mainstream lodging. Rental home rates start as low as $165 to $250 per home, per night. Travelers can find great deals and great amenities with vacation rentals, from New York to Joshua Tree.
Businesses like Moonlight Mesa Retreats contract with property owners to manage their properties and can manage numerous vacation homes within a region. With having a professional business managing the vacation rentals/lodgings, you are assured quality service on your vacation or holiday.
Our Southern California vacation rentals range from rustic cabins to spacious modern homes, located in close proximity to hiking areas, rock climbing, and the village. We are confident you will find the vacation home rental to make your trip both memorable and affordable. One family, on a recent trip, decided to do some bonding by hiking to the top of Ryan Mountain in Joshua Tree National Park located just minutes from any one of our vacation rentals. Visitors routinely choose Joshua Tree for the absence of glitz and glamour and the preponderance of tranquility.
Take your next vacation without spending a penny more than you have to on lodging. Professionally managed vacation home rentals are becoming one of North America's fastest-growing lodging categories. Many vacation rentals offer more space (multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, separate living areas), more amenities (fully equipped kitchens, fireplaces, private hot tubs), convenient locations (on the beach, ski-in/ski-out, in rural settings with no neighbors) and greater privacy than a hotel. Families and groups, in particular, are attracted to vacation rentals for the privacy, flexibility, and comfort they provide. By renting a house, it becomes as little as $60 per person and you get so many benefits that come with this price tag. Thinking of a vacation, come to Joshua Tree and experience the Mojave Desert and the Joshua Tree National Park and enjoy lodging at Moonlight Mesa Retreats.
We are proud supporters and volunteers of our local Mojave Desert Land Trust! The Mojave Desert is home to many rare plants and magnificent animals- a place of scenic wonder and tremendous biological diversity. Please read more about this amazing non-profit organization here.
We are full time residents of Joshua Tree, CA and this is our independently owned and operated business. Christa answers all of the e-mails and calls, while Mark maintains the website and handles the maintenance of the properties. This is our livelihood and we love what we do - creating beautiful spaces for our guests to experience a relaxing getaway. By supporting us, you are supporting a small homegrown business and which in turn supports other local businesses. It’s the philosophy this community is built on and one of the many reasons we love Joshua Tree for more than its inspiring park. If you wish to journey here on your next vacation, we welcome you. For those of you who keep coming back, we welcome you home!
"All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware" ~Martin Buber
~Mark and Christa Cranston
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree Vacation Rentals
Moonlight Mesa Retreats 760-401-3289 cell/text
Trusted Locally Owned and Operated business
By listening to our past guests, we know that most of you are coming here to spend time with friends and loved one(s) so we have thoughtfully created spaces for enjoying time together - comfortable seating to share long nights, fully stocked kitchens for sharing meals, fire pits to gather around, games to entertain, and a long list of things to do in the area, so that you may explore the desert (see our “JT Places” tab above).
All of our homes are located in the town of Joshua Tree just minutes away from Joshua Tree National Park and are professionally maintained on a regular basis. Our guests are guaranteed a personal, unique, and intimate experience. Most importantly, if there are any emergencies, we are just minutes away to help. Our reviews posted here are from previous guests, please feel free to read them and ask questions. Thank you for considering Moonlight Mesa Retreats!
2 bedroom/ 1 bath • hot tub • 5 acres
3 bedroom/ 2 bath • hot tub • 5 acres
3 bed/ 2 bath • 1/2 mile from park • hot tub
2 bedroom/ 2 bath • pool • hot tub
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