A couple of months back, my neighbor, Lauren, was telling me about one of her sister’s camping trips, and about how she was staying somewhere called “Hip Camp.” I didn’t think much about it at the time – I just tucked away the information in the back of my brain and figured it would come back to me when I needed it to.
Fast forward (and then flashback) to three weeks ago, when my best friend – also named Lauren (it gets confusing around here) – and I were planning her long weekend visit out here smack dab in the middle of the beautiful October season in California. And the idea of visiting Joshua Tree came up.
I had been to JT twice before, but both times only for day trips. It’s a short 2 – 2.5 hour drive from where we live to the Western Park Entrance, so it’s easy to do in a day. But, I had always heard so many wonderful things about seeing the night sky in JT. And how you must camp out under the stars, if you want to experience something magical.
So we agreed that we would camp for a single night in Joshua Tree. Luckily for me, Laur is an avid hiker/camper so I knew that I would be in great hands. I went onto JT’s National Park site to book a campsite and….wah wah wahhhhh…they were all filled up. Apparently October is the prime time to spend in JT. I couldn’t agree more.
So this is when that little tidbit of Hip Camp knowlege came back to me – we would simply book a Hip Camp and stay outside the park! You pay $25 for a week-long entrance pass into the park on top of your campsite fee anyway! It made perfect sense.
By now you’re probably asking yourself, “Well, is she gonna tell me what this Hip Camp thing is, or what!?” And that, I am!
Hip Camp is basically like Air BnB but for camping. It can be as simple as someone “renting out” some of their land for you to pitch your tent, or it can be as elaborate as fully renovated tree houses or A-frame dwellings with bathrooms and running water. Sites can be on camp grounds, nature preserves, vineyards, farms…you name it! Some sites offer hookups for RV’s and airstreams, while others might have luxury tents already set up for you. It ranges from camping to “glamping,” for sure. The variety of options is pretty wide, and depends mostly on when and where you’re looking to stay. There are these awesome “star beds” in Joshua Tree that have giant king-sized beds on the rooftops of little buildings, built specifically to see the stars and meteor showers in the open desert.
The Hip Camp that Laur and I booked is called The Avocado Deck at Pink Cloud Ranch, and it was just magical. The host – Tammy – started this Hip Camp location on her desert ranch, and it’s about a 10 minute drive from the Park’s West Entrance and a 5 minute drive from JT Village. The location was perfect for us. She offers a few tent decks which you can fasten your tent directly to so you’re not sleeping on the cold, lumpy ground, but she also offers a small trailer (and is working on renovating a larger one) for guests to stay in for a little more money than the tent sites. There were a small group of tents off to our left who all must have booked together, because they chose to set up camp directly on the ground instead of on one of the decks.
The Ranch has a porta-jon (which was the cleanest porta-jon I’ve ever been in), an outdoor shower, and an outdoor sink. So it’s a little bit more of “Glamping” than outright Camping…which was fine by me 😉 We stayed directly on the Avocado Deck, which we were especially thankful for when we realized we didn’t pack the poles to our tent! Instead of getting too upset, we set up our air mattress, rolled out our sleeping bags, bundled up with extra layers, and used it as an excuse to get the true JT experience and sleep under a sky full of stars during a Meteor Shower night. Not only that, but we woke up to the most gorgeous desert sunrise ever. I’ve been thinking about it all week!
Pink Cloud Ranch was also fun because Tammy has two beautiful white horses on the property who will happily and gently take treats from your hands. She has a little gaggle of pups – one of which is a Bully like Marty so I was dying in love. There’s a trampoline for campers to use, and each site gets its own fire pit, so long as you bring your own firewood. Our deck was set up next to some couches arranged in an L-shaped pattern, and a small canopy to create some shade over the couches. There’s an array of seating around the property for campers to utilize, and lots of eclectic collections throughout the property, that Tammy uses for art projects. I thought it was just the most magical place, and I was so happy to be there to experience it with my best friend.
Since JT is definitely one of my favorite places to be, I know we’ll be back in the future. And, I don’t know, I think camping outside the park might be my new favorite thing! Hip Camp provides an affordable option for those looking to road trip or weekend trip and explore somewhere new. Check out the site and see if there’s any locations near you…or hey, maybe set up your own!
More pictures from our time spent inside the park, to come!
What’s your next adventure!?