Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Desert Wildflowers + Hot Springs = Road Trip


We used your Road Trip book extensively on a 6 week VW camper trip from Portland, OR to Key West and back. You had so many great suggestions for things to see and places to eat.

We are now planning two week VW camper trip for March, again starting from Portland, OR. Our goal is to see some desert blooms and maybe visit a hot spring or two. Do you have any suggestions for places to go/great restaurants? We are thinking California, Nevada, Utah, or ?

Our only constraint is our two-week time frame.


Lora from Portland


Dear Lora --

Thank you for writing, and I'm glad to hear you've enjoyed my Road Trip books -- I hope I get this back to you before you set off on your Spring wildflower tour.

(And I would love to hear more about your cross country Portland to Key West haul -- that sounds amazing!)

Hot springs and wildflowers -- two of my favorite things! :-) Because of all the rain, this should be a good year for blooms -- I just checked the CA Poppy Preserve outside Los Angeles, and things seem to be starting later than usual -- but the good news is the park is reopening this weekend (March 13th), despite California's terrible money problems.

Anza Borrego, further south near El Centro, can also be great (esp if you like Ocotillos!)

Arizona for 2010 also seems to be "peaking" later than in previous years, but with all the rain they got this could be a good year-- my favorite places are the areas along US-93 north of Wickenburg AZ, the Saguaro Nat'l Parks outside Tucson, the Organ Pipe Nat'l Park, and the truly beautiful Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix (where they not only have a concentration of wildflowers, every Spring they also set up a walk-thru aviary full of butterflies.)

To my mind Arizona has the best wildflower shows -- blooms are much more intense than Nevada or Utah, for sure. But it _is_ farther away from Oregon...

Now, onto Hot Springs. I love 'em (in fact, the first guide book I ever bought was Bill Kaysing's "Great Hot Springs of the West", way back in 1985....) I used to know my way around the "natural" hot springs of eastern California, and remember some lovely ones around Mammoth, off US-395 -- the best known is called Hot Creek (but this has been open and closed due to ongoing "volcanic activity"... and I don't know the current status)

Many other "natural" hot springs have been commercialized -- a couple worth thinking about are: Harbin Hot Springs, in northern CA, and Pah Tempe (near Arches Nat'l Park in Utah). OK, southern Utah is a long drive, but it is an amazing place -- hot water bubbling right out of the canyon walls into the cool Virgin River.

I'll be happy to have a think about restaurants etc en route if you write back and let me know what your current plans are -- for now, I'll zap this back and wish you a "bon voyage"!

Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen

Road Trip USA


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