We headed south for an extended long weekend before a friend's wedding, and spent 2 days exploring Joshua Tree National Park. Instead of camping (sites book out reallllly early, and the first come first serve goes fast) we opted to stay in the Bonita Domes, which were as weird and cool as they sound. The dome was a bit open to the desert air (with tiny circle windows and a handmade door) but everywhere in the desert smelled like sage and eucalyptus, so it was super relaxing and spa-like to hang out there.
The visitor center on the north side sold this book on cacti and other desert plants, and despite the crazy name, it was actually super helpful for identifying different plant types! I loved the spiky little ones, they're called "teddy bear cholla" apparently because they look fuzzy like a teddy bear. Since it was stormy the first day we were there, a lot of the plants ended up flowering or sprouting leaves the second day, a worthwhile treat after getting chased off our longer hike by the heavy winds and rain.
Cary injured his thumb last weekend skiing (nothing crazy, just a sprain) and had to wear a little thumb cast that made it impossible to climb or boulder, but we enjoyed plenty of hiking and scrambling. We passed soooo many climbing areas along our hikes! We'll definitely have to come back and check the park out again when everyone has full use of their limbs. We did a few short hikes to see crazy rock formations, and a few longer ones that gave us a sense of the varied desert landscape. If I had to chose a favorite, I'd recommend checking out Willow Hole. A lot of the shorter trails were super crowded, so it was nice to do something longer and get away from folks, but it might be hard to do on a hotter/less stormy day.