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Riverside, CA in January
  
 
wayneng
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Riverside, CA in January


A group of 6 of some good college friends are meeting up in the Riverside area for a reunion this New Years from 1/1-1/3. I know there's plenty to do in that area near LA but was wondering what people here liked nature wise especially as that's more our thing. Dunno what the weather is like in that area.

Caveat: we're flying into Ontario around noon on 1/1, some people need to fly out late afternoon on 1/2, rest of people leaving late afternoon 1/3. So taking people back and forth to the airport will bisect our days. Not sure how much traffic will factor into travel time too.

Places we're thinking about hitting:
Joshua Tree (is it possible to go for like half a day? Or is it better just to skip given time constraints)
[Little] Corona Del Mar, especially around sunset
Big Bear Lake (not sure how accessible during wintertime)

Any other suggestions are welcome. Thanks in advance!



Oct 26, 2017 at 07:28 PM
Bobg657
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Riverside, CA in January


In January weather should be pleasant most days. From Riverside youíre about an hour away from most nature sites such as the ones you listed, you might look into Idyllwild and perhaps the Palm Springs Tramway which takes you to the mountains near Idyllwild. I havenít been to Joshua Tree in years so I canít comment on that for you.

Have fun,
Bob



Oct 26, 2017 at 07:52 PM
jdc562
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Riverside, CA in January


From Riverside driving time is not just the driving distance, it's also the traffic, especially on the holiday. There aren't many places you can go and still meet your airport schedule.

There can be severe traffic between Riverside and Corona del Mar because you'll be sharing the road with Los Angeles County-Orange County holliday people returning from "The River," Las Vegas, Palm Springs, etc. I don't think you'll have enough time in your airport schedule to go to the coast in a "timely manner."

Unless there is a big snow storm or landslide, Big Bear will be open. However the roads to there are narrow and jammed with city slickers on holiday.

Joshua Tree is more accessible if you like a lot of rocks, Joshua Trees and cholla cactus. With enough rain, some desert plants may be blooming, but don't count on it. The Palm Springs Tramway has great views with nature at the top. There is an interesting driving loop called the "Palms to Pines Scenic Byway" (Hwy 74) that goes through part of the Santa Rosa mountains and will also take you by Idyllwild. Part of that loop from Riverside includes Palm Springs and easily includes slight side trips to the several big palm oases. It will be a rush to meet airport times.

If you like birds, the small Big Morongo Bird Sanctuary (not the casino) is an easy drive from Riverside. It is off Hwy 62, the road to the northern entrances to Joshua Tree.

If you like photographing nature and weirdness, Riverside is not too far from the Salton Sea--California's biggest lake. Most of the interesting stuff is on the "east" side of the sea. There are still some birds in that crashing ecosystem. There are some interesting landscapes, too, including new salt flats left by the evaporating lake. However, if it has recently rained there, ONLY DRIVE ON PAVED SURFACES. Do NOT pull off onto unpaved shoulders. Do not go on dirt roads. The alkali mud there is very treacherous, 4wd or not. For something very photogenic that you will never see elsewhere, I especially recommend Salvation Mountain in Slab City-Niland: a giant, man-made landscape constructed as a monument to God. Google it. However, this may take too much time to meet airport schedules.

Anza-Borrego is also a nice place, including the many giant steel sculptures of animals scattered across the desert landscape. If rains have made the Ocotillos bloom, they will be picturesque, too.



Edited on Oct 27, 2017 at 08:29 PM · View previous versions



Oct 26, 2017 at 10:51 PM
Tim Knutson
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Riverside, CA in January


At the risk of offending all the residents of the great golden state, it seems a little funny to see "Riverside" and "nature" in the same paragraph.


Oct 27, 2017 at 01:20 AM
GroovyGeek
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Riverside, CA in January


Tim Knutson wrote:
At the risk of offending all the residents of the great golden state, it seems a little funny to see "Riverside" and "nature" in the same paragraph.


Actually Riverside is just a few hours away from some pretty nice landscapes. The Ibex Dunes and the Mojave Preserve are 3 to 3.5 hrs away. The El Cajon pass area can be great, esp for train fans. A bit further north is inspiration Pt in the Angeles Mtns, in January it may or may not be snowed in. I would not bother with Joshua Tree NP, but Pines to Palms Hwy is very nice..



Oct 27, 2017 at 08:49 PM
 

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Tim Knutson
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Riverside, CA in January


"Few hours away" , true. "Riverside" , not so much.

Again, apologies to all of the residents of the great concrete jungle.



Oct 27, 2017 at 08:57 PM
Craig Gillette
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Riverside, CA in January


As you might recall from watching the Tournament of Roses (Rose Parade) and Rose Bowl Game, weather is usually fair. Some chance of storms during the general time frame. The ideal is to have storms right before the holiday and clear the day of the game/parade so you get snow covered mountains. You do have the advantage of dealing with Ontario Airport so it's a quick shot in and out compared to the disaster of LAX. And you could expect serious traffic if traveling to/through the Pasadena area around the parade and game times.

I/15 leads into/out of the greater L.A. area near ONT and Riverside. I'd expect a fair amount of traffic back to the L.A. area later on 1/1 to get folks back to work and/or school after the Monday holiday. The Cajon Pass and I/15 handles the traffic from Las Vegas and a good chunk of traffic from the ski areas of the eastern Sierra, like Mammoth Mountain. To the east, traffic to and from the desert resorts like Palm Springs and Arizona flows through or near Riverside on I10 and US 60. There are local ski areas and mountain resorts in the mountains near Riverside/Ontario which will add to the traffic. If it's storming, the roads to the mountain resorts will be crowded and subject to chain controls.

Joshua Tree, the north entrance, off Highway 62 is maybe 1.5 hours or some over from the ONT area. It's a shorter drive to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Both are found by going east through Banning/Beaumont, then almost to Palm Springs, 62 goes north through the Morongo Valleys or south on 111. There is a nature preserve in Big Morongo. I've passed by a number of times on the way to J Tree, worth doing a search on it, I believe the emphasis might be on birding in the winter. The tramway could well have significant snow at the top.

Travel to or from the beach areas will likely be heavier traffic and more congestion around the beaches and to/from the Riverside area.



Oct 28, 2017 at 05:29 AM
wayneng
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Riverside, CA in January


Thanks for all the info everyone. I think we're likely going to just budget the first day at the beach and take it slow and get up early for Joshua Tree the next day so that we can get through it all in time before needing to go to the airport. 1/3 still not sure but think there's enough suggestions for me to pass along to the others.

Thanks again!



Oct 29, 2017 at 02:18 PM
ssc45
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Riverside, CA in January


Be advised that the traffic can be bad. Trust me when I say do not even try to go to the mountains. If there is snow, the traffic is horrible. However, going to the beach is not too bad. I would suggest that you contact the "fast Track" and try to get a pass or transponder. It will save you time on the road.

Some thoughts are hitting the beach from Huntington and going south. You can take the 55. Or, you can hit South Orange county using the 241,261,133. Generally not bad traffic. Or take 74 through lake Elsinore will get you to Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano etc. There are a few wilderness areas along 74. It is a nice drive. Keep an eye out for the motorcycles.

You can take a trip through the Temecula wine country via 79 and/or take 79 and circle around to mountain center and back to Riverside. Or keep going to Palm Desert. Or head to Julian, and Lake Henshaw and down to Borrego spings.

Just some random thoughts. Where are you staying? I might be able to give you some short cuts.

Cheers, Steve



Oct 30, 2017 at 03:49 PM
elkhornsun
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Riverside, CA in January


Check out San Bernardino National Forest and also the tram at Palm Springs takes you to the top of Mt San Jacinto which is a state park, and this is good for hiking and photography and a good chance for snow on the ground in January. Joshua Tree would be great in the winter with likely clear skies.

Traffic will be OK if you head east or north from Riverside. The beach areas in southern California all grossly overbuilt and not at all scenic anymore.

The deserts are much better and there are quite different desert environments in the area. The actual springs at Palm Springs and the surrounding area is worth exploring. The city and the golf courses are all most people think of but there is much much more in the area.



Nov 03, 2017 at 06:33 PM







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