Mitchell Caverns Tour in Mojave National Preserve

The Mitchell Caverns in Providence State Park are one of the only show caves in Southern California. They finally reopened after being closed for over five years, and if you haven’t explored them, do it now. The caves are only accessible via a guided tour that happens two days a week and is hard to book, but it consists of 1.5 – 2 hours of exploring the caves and learning about the area’s history. Here is all the information.

Details

  • $10 per person for the tour and $10 to park
  • Must call to get on a tour, they told me you could only call on Mondays currently. More information here.
  • Location: 38200 Essex Rd, Essex, CA 92332

Getting There

From Southern California, it is a long drive to get out to Mitchell Caverns, and I would recommend you consider spending the night at Hole in the Wall Campground or something so you can make the most of your time.

Take the 15 North to Barstow then head East on the 40 Freeway. It’s about an hour and a half from Barstow with no gas or food so get what you need before leaving Barstow. When you get to Essex Rd, you will get off and head north into Mojave National Preserve. Follow signs to the caverns and park in the lot.

The Tour

Since it is so far away, we ended up getting there about 40 minutes early. We took the time to explore the small visitors center they have, as well as walked around on the short trail to see cactus and a few historical plaques. There are two bathrooms here as well.

When it was time for the tour to start, they gathered up the 15 of us and started by telling us the history of the area and the Mitchell’s who ran the cave.

The short history is that the Mitchells moved out here in 1934 and they ran the caves as a desert resort and Route 66 attraction for 20 years. Jack built all of the stone buildings here and gave cave tours himself. He also developed the road that got here from Route 66, which was 22 miles. They left in 1954 when they were both in their 70’s, and that is when it was sold to the state parks system.

After learning this history, we headed out on the trail for about a third of a mile hike to where the cave is.

Along the way, we stopped multiple times to learn about the plant and animal life as well as the gold mines that were here. Lots of the plants and animals in this area are only found in this location and not anywhere else in the world. It is called a sky island.

When you round the bend and see the two eyes which are the entrance to the cave, it is a pretty cool sight.

After crossing the small bridge, you will be walking up a hill and will then reach the cave entrance.

The Caverns

From here the tour gets incredible and you spend the next 45 minutes or so in the cave.

The formations here are mind-blowing, featuring a column, which is a connected stalactite and stalagmites. Only 1 in 4,000 caves have a connecting piece like this.

The cave has many rooms that you will get a chance to spend time in and learn more about. I was fascinated by how impressive this cave was to explore; it was much better then I expected.

There are also formations called cave shields here, and they are only found in 60 caves in the USA.

The tour goes up and down stairs, through small tunnels and into large rooms, it’s fantastic.

We also learned about some of the animal life in here including the packrat, you can see his nest in the below photo.

The tour ended in the large room in the second part of the cave. This room was massive and let in some light, so it was easy to see without the man-added lights in the cave.

When you leave the cave, it is about a half mile back to where you parked, completing your time at Providence Mountains.

I loved my time at this park, I am so glad it is open again, and I hope others get a chance to explore this unique Southern California site. Let me know what you think if you go in the comments.

Mitchell Caverns Tour in Mojave National Preserve

The Mitchell Caverns in Providence State Park are one of the only show caves in Southern California. They finally reopened after being closed for over five years, and if you haven’t explored them, do it now. The caves are only accessible via a guided tour that happens two days a week and is hard to book, but it consists of 1.5 – 2 hours of exploring the caves and learning about the area’s history. Here is all the information.

Details

  • $10 per person for the tour and $10 to park
  • Must call to get on a tour, they told me you could only call on Mondays currently. More information here.
  • Location: 38200 Essex Rd, Essex, CA 92332

Getting There

From Southern California, it is a long drive to get out to Mitchell Caverns, and I would recommend you consider spending the night at Hole in the Wall Campground or something so you can make the most of your time.

Take the 15 North to Barstow then head East on the 40 Freeway. It’s about an hour and a half from Barstow with no gas or food so get what you need before leaving Barstow. When you get to Essex Rd, you will get off and head north into Mojave National Preserve. Follow signs to the caverns and park in the lot.

The Tour

Since it is so far away, we ended up getting there about 40 minutes early. We took the time to explore the small visitors center they have, as well as walked around on the short trail to see cactus and a few historical plaques. There are two bathrooms here as well.

When it was time for the tour to start, they gathered up the 15 of us and started by telling us the history of the area and the Mitchell’s who ran the cave.

The short history is that the Mitchells moved out here in 1934 and they ran the caves as a desert resort and Route 66 attraction for 20 years. Jack built all of the stone buildings here and gave cave tours himself. He also developed the road that got here from Route 66, which was 22 miles. They left in 1954 when they were both in their 70’s, and that is when it was sold to the state parks system.

After learning this history, we headed out on the trail for about a third of a mile hike to where the cave is.

Along the way, we stopped multiple times to learn about the plant and animal life as well as the gold mines that were here. Lots of the plants and animals in this area are only found in this location and not anywhere else in the world. It is called a sky island.

When you round the bend and see the two eyes which are the entrance to the cave, it is a pretty cool sight.

After crossing the small bridge, you will be walking up a hill and will then reach the cave entrance.

The Caverns

From here the tour gets incredible and you spend the next 45 minutes or so in the cave.

The formations here are mind-blowing, featuring a column, which is a connected stalactite and stalagmites. Only 1 in 4,000 caves have a connecting piece like this.

The cave has many rooms that you will get a chance to spend time in and learn more about. I was fascinated by how impressive this cave was to explore; it was much better then I expected.

There are also formations called cave shields here, and they are only found in 60 caves in the USA.

The tour goes up and down stairs, through small tunnels and into large rooms, it’s fantastic.

We also learned about some of the animal life in here including the packrat, you can see his nest in the below photo.

The tour ended in the large room in the second part of the cave. This room was massive and let in some light, so it was easy to see without the man-added lights in the cave.

When you leave the cave, it is about a half mile back to where you parked, completing your time at Providence Mountains.

I loved my time at this park, I am so glad it is open again, and I hope others get a chance to explore this unique Southern California site. Let me know what you think if you go in the comments.

Sunset Cliffs Open Ceiling Sea Cave in San Diego

The open ceiling sea cave in the Sunset Cliffs area of San Diego is one of those places that’s hard to believe is in California. This massive sea cave is a fantastic spot for photos, and due to the difficulty of access (only during a negative tide), it stays relatively secluded. If you want to go here is all the information. Note that it is dangerous to attempt when it is not a negative low tide.

Details

  • .1 mile
  • Slippery rocks, be prepared to get wet up to the knee to cross one section
  • Tide chart here
  • Location: Near Luscombs Point in the Sunset Cliffs

Getting There

I would recommend just putting Luscombs Point into your GPS and driving to that area of the Sunset Cliffs. There is street parking here if you are lucky and you will see the large gate that blocks you from getting close to the top of the cave.

The Trail

To get to the sea cave, you will need to walk to the end of Luscomb’s Point, where the surfers go down and scramble the roughly hewn steps down to the water.

From here you can walk along the rocks for about 100 yards before you have to get your feet wet to proceed on.

When I went at a negative 1.8-foot tide, it was less than knee deep, but at other times it would be a lot more.

Once you get out of the water, you will just want to walk along the rocks to the small cove which is probably near where you parked.

There is a way down near the cove as well, but I would not recommend you do it as it is very steep and sketchy. I have never done it and do not intend to.

From the cove, you simply walk around the next rock, and you will be at the entrance to the cave.

The cave is massive when you see it from this angle. There were a dozen or so people in it when I went, and it still felt huge.

The cave is a popular spot if the tides line up with sunset and you will generally see a bunch of photographers down here.

Take as much time as you want walking around and exploring the cave. Do note the tide schedules though, so it does not rise on you if you stay for a while.

Video

I waited almost a year to see this spot, and I am glad that I waited for a low tide. It is a fantastic place to explore with lots of great photo opportunities. Check it out the next time there is a negative tide and let me know what you think in the comments.

Exploring Joshua Tree with One Eleven Watches

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of One Eleven for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

This post is the second in my series where I test out the new One Eleven Watch. You can read the first in this series, where I do some beach hiking, here. For this post, I drove out for a full day of hiking/exploring in Joshua Tree National Park to test out the durability and solar-powered features on some of my favorite hikes in the park. Here is the itinerary for a full day in the park if you want to do the same thing.

Arch Rock

For my first hike, I headed over to Arch Rock, which is a personal favorite of mine due to how short the hike is and how impressive the arch is.

Like most areas in Joshua Tree National Park though, the best part is climbing on the various rocks and seeing things from different angles. The watch did great during the bouldering, never getting in the way and resting well on my wrist as I climbed to new heights.

After exploring the arch and the surrounding rocks, I headed to the next destination in the park.

Skull Rock

This is a short .1 mile hike to a rock that looks like a skull. It is one of the park’s popular locations because it is easy to get to, but there is not much to do here other than take a few photos.

Geology Tour Road

From Skull Rock I headed to Geology Tour Road, which is an 18 mile 4×4 drive in the middle of the park.

This road is a great way to get a good understanding of what the park looked like before all the roads and people changed it. It not a very difficult 4×4, so it is a great way to test your skills if you are not very familiar with driving in these conditions.

I was a little pressed for time as I had to make it back to Keys Ranch and still had a few more stops. It was great to take the remote drive though and to trust that the watch would not run out of battery since it was solar powered and there is always a lot of sun in the desert. Heading back to the park’s main road, I continued on the 15-minute drive to Barker Dam.

Barker Dam

Barker Dam is the most popular hike in the park, and it is one that I have done many times. The half-mile trail ends at an old dam created by settlers, and there was a surprising amount of water still present this late in the season.

Key’s Ranch

I rushed through the hike so I could make it in time for the 2 PM tour of Key’s Ranch. There is only one tour a day, so it is essential to get your tickets early and to be on time.

The tour leads you back to the remains of Key’s Ranch, a well-maintained homestead in the park. It was impressive to see how well it has been kept up and to be able to explore it during the hour and a half tour.

Hidden Valley

For my last stop of the day, I headed over to Hidden Valley and did the 1-mile loop through the natural valley.

This is also an excellent location for sunset, and since the sun was going down, I figured I would just find a rock to sit on and watch it fade into the sky.

Spending the day exploring Joshua Tree with One Eleven Watches was a blast. I loved being able to test out the adventure watch on some of my favorite trails in the park. The solar power makes it easy to never think about batteries and the clean aesthetic, which resembles map directions, makes the watch a stylish entry into the normally bland outdoor watch market. Check out the watches and be sure to explore Joshua Tree National Park when you get the chance as well.

Visit Sponsors Site

Exploring Del Mar with One Eleven Watches

This post is sponsored by One Eleven Watches. All opinions are my own.

There are two things that I love owning, the first is any type of camera gear and the second is watches. I probably have more then I need of both, but I keep collecting. So when Fossil asked for my help testing out the new One Eleven Watches, I figured I could take it on a few recent adventures and see if it deserved a place in my collection. First I headed to the ocean to go on a couple of my favorite beach hikes, and in the next post, I head out to the desert to test it in those conditions as well. Here is the adventure I went on and how it held up.

Annie’s Canyon

Ever since hearing they reopened this short trail I have wanted to go down and check it out. The trail is only .8 miles round trip, but it takes you along a beautiful ecological preserve as you head back into Annie’s Canyon.

Annie’s Canyon is a quarter mile “slot” canyon which gets progressively narrow (the top is always wide) as you wind your way up and out of the small ravine.

It was an excellent place to use the watch as I wanted to test how durable it was when brushing up against the sandstone. Luckily it held up as I wound my way up and out of the narrow canyon.

There are some places where you are going uphill, and the canyon is barely narrow enough to stand sideways in, it’s a fun adventure.

The hike ends with a metal ladder that lets you climb out to a viewpoint of the preserve before hiking back down a set of switchbacks to where you entered the canyon.

Torry Pines State Park

After getting back to the car, I figured I would do some sunset beach hiking as well and headed over to Torrey Pines State Park, which is one of my favorite Southern California hiking areas.

I estimated I could set out on the beach trail and hike for about 30 minutes as the sun set over the water.

I took the opportunity to walk close to the water and test out the watch’s waterproof attributes. I fully submerged it and let the waves wash over it as I took a few photos. After wiping off the sand and water on my shirt, it was a good as new.

From here I headed to the base of the stairs, which is where this trail connects with the main path that takes you to the upper parking lot. This is where I hung out for sunset and just relaxed and took it all in before walking back down the beach to the car.

All in all, the One Eleven watch was an excellent companion for me on this adventure; it survived the sandstone of Annie’s Canyon and the ocean at Torrey Pines. Check out my second post in this series next week where I take it out to the desert and you can see the watches yourself here.

Whitewater Rafting the Trinity River Outside of Redding

With the amount of rain we have had in California this year (2017), I figured it would be a very good time to get out and do some whitewater rafting. On a recent trip up to Northern California, some friends and I went over to the Trinity River and booked a trip with Trinity River Rafting for a half day on the water. This was a great, family friendly way to explore the river and get into whitewater rafting as the rapids were only class 2-3 which is good for beginners. We all had a blast on the water and here is all the information.

Details

  • Cost: $65 a person for a half day
  • Location: 31021 State Hwy 299 W Big Flat, CA 96010

Getting There

From Redding on Highway 5, you will head west on Highway 299. Its about 60 miles of windy roads, when you get to Weaverville, you are getting close. Be sure to grab the address before you get out of Redding as the cell service is pretty bad the further you get. In the small town of Big Flat, you will reach your destination on the right side of the road, across from the little store.

Upon arriving, we checked in our group and got set up with helmets and life jackets then loaded on the shuttle to go 6 miles up the road.

The ten-minute ride gave you a chance to look down on the water you will be rafting through for the next 3 hours.

When we got to the drop-off, the boats were unloaded, we were given a safety talk before floating down the river.

The first 45 minutes was relatively calm with a few rapids but nothing crazy, making it a good way to get the hang of paddling and to enjoy the area.

After that, we hit our first class 3 rapids and were prepared for the adventure since our guide had helped us understand what was in store.

The rapids are a ton of fun, and they provide a lot of adrenaline when you go over them.

We docked the boats at an area with a big cliff you can jump off and two of the people in the group took the jump.

From there we got back in the raft and headed to the most intense of the rapids a class 3+ with a  6-foot drop known as the hellhole. This was also where professional photos were taken, and you can see the progression of the drop in GIF form below.

No one fell out of the boat on this rapid, so we all celebrated and from here stopped on the shore to have a chips and salsa break.

The last 45 minutes was more class 2-3 rapids and even a few chances to swim before getting back to the parking area where we began.

All in all, we had a great time out on the water for 3 hours, and I highly recommend it. Maybe it is due to the location, but $65 also seemed like a really fair price for the adventure.

Check out the video above and let me know what you think in the comments.

Whitewater Rafting the Trinity River Outside of Redding

With the amount of rain we have had in California this year (2017), I figured it would be a very good time to get out and do some whitewater rafting. On a recent trip up to Northern California, some friends and I went over to the Trinity River and booked a trip with Trinity River Rafting for a half day on the water. This was a great, family friendly way to explore the river and get into whitewater rafting as the rapids were only class 2-3 which is good for beginners. We all had a blast on the water and here is all the information.

Details

  • Cost: $65 a person for a half day
  • Location: 31021 State Hwy 299 W Big Flat, CA 96010

Getting There

From Redding on Highway 5, you will head west on Highway 299. Its about 60 miles of windy roads, when you get to Weaverville, you are getting close. Be sure to grab the address before you get out of Redding as the cell service is pretty bad the further you get. In the small town of Big Flat, you will reach your destination on the right side of the road, across from the little store.

Upon arriving, we checked in our group and got set up with helmets and life jackets then loaded on the shuttle to go 6 miles up the road.

The ten-minute ride gave you a chance to look down on the water you will be rafting through for the next 3 hours.

When we got to the drop-off, the boats were unloaded, we were given a safety talk before floating down the river.

The first 45 minutes was relatively calm with a few rapids but nothing crazy, making it a good way to get the hang of paddling and to enjoy the area.

After that, we hit our first class 3 rapids and were prepared for the adventure since our guide had helped us understand what was in store.

The rapids are a ton of fun, and they provide a lot of adrenaline when you go over them.

We docked the boats at an area with a big cliff you can jump off and two of the people in the group took the jump.

From there we got back in the raft and headed to the most intense of the rapids a class 3+ with a  6-foot drop known as the hellhole. This was also where professional photos were taken, and you can see the progression of the drop in GIF form below.

No one fell out of the boat on this rapid, so we all celebrated and from here stopped on the shore to have a chips and salsa break.

The last 45 minutes was more class 2-3 rapids and even a few chances to swim before getting back to the parking area where we began.

All in all, we had a great time out on the water for 3 hours, and I highly recommend it. Maybe it is due to the location, but $65 also seemed like a really fair price for the adventure.

Check out the video above and let me know what you think in the comments.

Whitewater Rafting the Trinity River Outside of Redding

With the amount of rain we have had in California this year (2017), I figured it would be a very good time to get out and do some whitewater rafting. On a recent trip up to Northern California, some friends and I went over to the Trinity River and booked a trip with Trinity River Rafting for a half day on the water. This was a great, family friendly way to explore the river and get into whitewater rafting as the rapids were only class 2-3 which is good for beginners. We all had a blast on the water and here is all the information.

Details

  • Cost: $65 a person for a half day
  • Location: 31021 State Hwy 299 W Big Flat, CA 96010

Getting There

From Redding on Highway 5, you will head west on Highway 299. Its about 60 miles of windy roads, when you get to Weaverville, you are getting close. Be sure to grab the address before you get out of Redding as the cell service is pretty bad the further you get. In the small town of Big Flat, you will reach your destination on the right side of the road, across from the little store.

Upon arriving, we checked in our group and got set up with helmets and life jackets then loaded on the shuttle to go 6 miles up the road.

The ten-minute ride gave you a chance to look down on the water you will be rafting through for the next 3 hours.

When we got to the drop-off, the boats were unloaded, we were given a safety talk before floating down the river.

The first 45 minutes was relatively calm with a few rapids but nothing crazy, making it a good way to get the hang of paddling and to enjoy the area.

After that, we hit our first class 3 rapids and were prepared for the adventure since our guide had helped us understand what was in store.

The rapids are a ton of fun, and they provide a lot of adrenaline when you go over them.

We docked the boats at an area with a big cliff you can jump off and two of the people in the group took the jump.

From there we got back in the raft and headed to the most intense of the rapids a class 3+ with a  6-foot drop known as the hellhole. This was also where professional photos were taken, and you can see the progression of the drop in GIF form below.

No one fell out of the boat on this rapid, so we all celebrated and from here stopped on the shore to have a chips and salsa break.

The last 45 minutes was more class 2-3 rapids and even a few chances to swim before getting back to the parking area where we began.

All in all, we had a great time out on the water for 3 hours, and I highly recommend it. Maybe it is due to the location, but $65 also seemed like a really fair price for the adventure.

Check out the video above and let me know what you think in the comments.

Whitewater Rafting the Trinity River Outside of Redding

With the amount of rain we have had in California this year (2017), I figured it would be a very good time to get out and do some whitewater rafting. On a recent trip up to Northern California, some friends and I went over to the Trinity River and booked a trip with Trinity River Rafting for a half day on the water. This was a great, family friendly way to explore the river and get into whitewater rafting as the rapids were only class 2-3 which is good for beginners. We all had a blast on the water and here is all the information.

Details

  • Cost: $65 a person for a half day
  • Location: 31021 State Hwy 299 W Big Flat, CA 96010

Getting There

From Redding on Highway 5, you will head west on Highway 299. Its about 60 miles of windy roads, when you get to Weaverville, you are getting close. Be sure to grab the address before you get out of Redding as the cell service is pretty bad the further you get. In the small town of Big Flat, you will reach your destination on the right side of the road, across from the little store.

Upon arriving, we checked in our group and got set up with helmets and life jackets then loaded on the shuttle to go 6 miles up the road.

The ten-minute ride gave you a chance to look down on the water you will be rafting through for the next 3 hours.

When we got to the drop-off, the boats were unloaded, we were given a safety talk before floating down the river.

The first 45 minutes was relatively calm with a few rapids but nothing crazy, making it a good way to get the hang of paddling and to enjoy the area.

After that, we hit our first class 3 rapids and were prepared for the adventure since our guide had helped us understand what was in store.

The rapids are a ton of fun, and they provide a lot of adrenaline when you go over them.

We docked the boats at an area with a big cliff you can jump off and two of the people in the group took the jump.

From there we got back in the raft and headed to the most intense of the rapids a class 3+ with a  6-foot drop known as the hellhole. This was also where professional photos were taken, and you can see the progression of the drop in GIF form below.

No one fell out of the boat on this rapid, so we all celebrated and from here stopped on the shore to have a chips and salsa break.

The last 45 minutes was more class 2-3 rapids and even a few chances to swim before getting back to the parking area where we began.

All in all, we had a great time out on the water for 3 hours, and I highly recommend it. Maybe it is due to the location, but $65 also seemed like a really fair price for the adventure.

Check out the video above and let me know what you think in the comments.

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway: Ride from the Cactus to the Clouds

The Palm Springs desert can be a hot place to be in the summer, so being able to take a 15-minute tram ride up over 6,000 feet is a welcome escape. The Palm Springs Ariel Tram, located 10 minutes outside of town, is just that. This engineering marvel has been here for over 50 years, ushering people up into the San Jacinto Wilderness, where the weather can easily be 25 degrees cooler. The tram also provides access to some great hiking trails, two restaurants, and multiple viewpoints. Here is all the information so you can check it out.

Details

  • Cost: $25 a person, $36 for the dine and ride package after 4 PM
  • Parking is $5
  • Hours: Generally 10 AM – 8 PM but double check before you go.

Getting There

From the 10 Freeway out of Los Angeles, you will head towards Palm Springs and get on the 111 Freeway. From here you will turn left on Tram Way and then proceed up to the base of the mountain. They used to not charge for parking, but three years ago they changed it to a $5 fee. There are many lots, and the further away ones have a shuttle you can use if it’s busy (like on the weekend) and you need to park there.

After parking, you will head into the main building to get your tickets and to get in line to board the tram. Don’t forget to check out the old tram that is still sitting outside from before they remodeled it.

The tram itself takes 11 minutes to make its way to the top. Don’t worry about where you are standing; the floor makes two full rotations on the way up so as long as you are by a window, you will have a good spot.

The tram can get pretty packed on the weekends so be prepared to wait and to squish in but the ride is short, so it’s not a big deal.

When the tram goes over one of the three main towers, it will sway a little bit which can be creepy for some people, but I thought it was fun.

When you get to the top, you will be in a four story building with a small visitor center, multiple small theaters, and two restaurants.

We headed down to the visitors center first and saw all the taxidermy animals they had from the area as well as the short movie on how they built the tram.

Hikes

From there we went out on a few hikes. The easiest are the Desert View Trail and the Nature Trail. If you have a full day and have been training for it, you can climb to the top of San Jacinto as well. Read about all of them below.

Food

After hiking, we grabbed a meal at the cafeteria style restaurant called The Pines. We had done the “ride and dine” ticket, so it was included. If not the price was pretty crazy at like $21 a person, but with the ride and dine it was only $12 extra. I would say that the food was decent. Nothing I was super excited about but slightly better than average. It’s worth it just to be able to sit on the deck and eat looking over the view though.

After dinner, walk around the upper deck and go up to Grubbs View. This view point is accessed by walking up 20-30 stairs and it provides great vistas of both the desert below you and the mountains behind you.

It’s a great area to watch the sunset from as well; the sun goes down over Mt. San Jacinto.

After taking it all in, grab a tram back down the mountain. Usually, they come every 15 minutes but it starts being ever 30 minutes as it gets later.

Even though the tram is a little pricey for a whole family, it really is a great adventure to have in Southern California, especially if you want to get out of the desert heat.

Let me know what you think and what your favorite hikes are in the comments.