Heading to Joshua Tree? Stock up on Snacks and Booze at These Roadside Stops
An insider’s road trip guide for the best places to stop for sips and snacks, plus made-to-order sourdough.
As the weather starts to cool in the California desert, you may find yourself longing for a hike or a climb among Joshua Tree’s otherworldly boulders and golden hour skies.
Picture this: You start packing up the car, throw your hiking boots in the back, get behind the steering wheel, and make your way to Highway 62, which will snake toward your campsite or Airbnb when … you realize you forgot all the fixings for your Saturday night charcuterie board. And the bottle of sparkling wine you planned to pair with it.
Whether you’re getting fancy with said cheese or simply realized you’re missing a bottle of whiskey for your campsite, the good news is that there are plenty of new roadside pitstops to stock up on booze, snacks, and everything in between on your way to Joshua Tree. From a locally owned fruit market with more than lemons and limes, to a plant nursery where you can get a mini golden barrel cactus along with coffee beans, Highway 62 is rife with options to pick up snacks and drinks that you forgot (or just now realized you needed).
We put together a guide along Highway 62 if you’re coming from the West; if you’re coming from more eastern states, just read it backward and plan to pass the park on your way to the first stop. All curious travelers should take time to review Leave No Trace principles before their visit, and read up on what it means to respect the desert. Now, time to hit the road:
The Coyote Cone
First stop: ice cream. You’ll find piña colada shaved ice and hand-dipped ice cream cones at this Morongo Valley shop just off Highway 62. (Look for the pink umbrellas.) In addition to shelves of Fun Dip and Double Bubble, you can take your pick of a banana split, affogato, and more. Enjoy your treat on the repurposed horse-saddle stools, and leave a dollar on the “Pay it Forward” board to surprise another customer with a $1 cone.
If you go: 49574 Twentynine Palms Highway, Morongo Valley; (760) 363-2133; thecoyotecone.com
Morongo Valley Fruit Market
Just across the street from The Coyote Cone, a married pair of farmers took over this beloved roadside market, which offers more than just fruit (though the melons are delicious). The shelves are stocked with soft butter rolls, probiotic coconut yogurt, local honey, and more. Eric Wilson and Gardenia Ramirez also farm their own property in town, and offer boxes of produce from other California farmers through their sister brand Somewhere in the Desert.
If you go: 49643 Twentynine Palms Highway, Morongo Valley; instagram.com/morongovalleyfruitmarket
Not only can you plant your own baby cactus for just 69 cents at this Morongo Valley nursery, but you’ll also find a refrigerator full of cold beverages and locally roasted bags from Joshua Tree Coffee Co. Fair warning: You may spend more time than you planned wandering in and out of the rows that beckon with all different types of succulents. Be sure to say hi to the resident cats, Butch and Sundance, while the staff grinds your beans!
If you go: 49889 Twentynine Palms Highway; (760) 363-6076; cactusmart.com
A bit further up the highway, Midwesterners (or really, anyone) with a sweet tooth will be delighted to find a freezer full of Jeni’s ice cream inside this Yucca Valley bodega. That’s in addition to perhaps the best selection of mezcal and tequila on this side of the interstate. We love the cheese fridge and selection of tinned fish and crackers, plus the frozen pizzas that taste better than anything you’ll find at the grocery store.
If you go: 55827 Twentynine Palms Highway, Yucca Valley; (760) 820-1063; desiertoalto.com
Wine & Rock Shop
Go digging for crystals inside this wine shop right off the highway—just look for the alien standing outside the building. The vibes are a high desert combination of disco balls and black onyx, with a wide range of wine, beer, and wellness products. Do yourself a favor and order ahead from Wild Bread bakery, which delivers fresh, made-to-order sourdough loaves to the shop on Saturdays. The bread makers’ menu goes live each Monday.
If you go: 59006 Twentynine Palms Highway, Yucca Valley; (760) 853-0012; wineandrockshop.com