Traveling from Phoenix to the Mojave Desert, I stopped in Parker, Arizona for a few days. I was delighted by the fascinating attractions around this small town! I stood awestruck in front of ancient human and animal drawings carved into the earth, I played outside in a mountain park, I wandered around a ghost town, and even soared through sunrise in a hot air balloon. Less than two hours from Joshua Tree National Park, Parker is such a fun place to pass a few days.
I loved hiking on the trails around Buckskin Mountain State Park. The diverse environment and rugged terrain kept me on my toes! I spotted a gray fox during my hike also, reminding me just how wild this place is. Views of the river from above were incredibly rewarding… and pretty darn inviting! After my hike, I scuttled down to the water and jumped in to cool off. Next time, I’d love to wrangle some friends and get out on the water, perhaps a boat rental or even jet skis!
After a full day in the outdoors, I checked out the wonderfully quirky Nellie E. Saloon Desert Bar. Once a mining camp, the “desert bar” is now a thriving destination for locals and travelers alike. Funky decor such as refrigerator doors for windows completes the vibe of this unique spot. Throughout the winter months, the watering hole also hosts live music. Don’t miss a visit to this place!
Perspective: from above and from the past
Shortly after the sun made the earliest cast across the land, we floated into the air. Our hot air balloon ride offered such a glowing perspective over the desert and mountains! The Colorado River meandered so beautifully with the landscape, and I felt as though I was still dreaming. I will admit, the early alarm was tough for a morning on vacation, but this experience was unforgettable and well worth the effort!
A nap ensued after my morning gliding through the air, then I awoke ready for more exploration! About an hour from Parker, I wandered through the historic remnants of Swansea. This ghost town ebbed and flowed during its mining era in the early 1900’s, and was finally abandoned during the Great Depression. The place feels eerie yet fascinating, and was super fun to photograph.
Intriguing Parker history
I drove south of Parker to one of the most fascinating places in the American West. The Blythe Intaglios are massive geoglyphs (think petroglyphs, except produced on the earth), consisting of human and animal figures. The largest figure is over 171 feet long, and they’re dated between 450 and 2,000 years old. With an unknown origin story, you’ll have to see this place for yourself. Could it be aliens? Let your imagination run wild!
By afternoon, I was walking through the Colorado River Indian Tribes Museum. At the museum, I learned so much about the heritage and culture in the area. A variety of exhibits featured local artifacts and beautiful artwork, as well as photography that provide a glimpse into tribal history.
I love landing in places like Parker, Arizona on a road trip. Destinations like this remind me just how diverse the landscape of our American West really is.