My husband had fond memories of camping with his parents and brothers in their VW Camper while he was growing up in Michigan. He wanted to start the tradition for our children, young as they may be, with his parents there to show us the proper way to start a campfire or make a bean stew. For our first foray, we decided to take an intergenerational camper van caravan to the Palm Springs desert from L.A.
To be honest, the city slicker in me had a lot of reservations about roughing it with two small children. But I love the desert — both the retro cool vibe of Palm Springs and the isolated beauty of Joshua Tree. I was itching to go back and show my in-laws our favorite spots. We rented two camper vans, perfect for newbies. They come outfitted with everything you could need to camp: tent, mini fridge, cookware, pots and pans, water jug, sun shade, plus you can rent additional gear you may need. They convert from seating to sleeping for night time and you can enter RV parks with them. The best part is that each has a unique custom paint job on the side which garners plenty of attention as you travel. I liked the camper vans for an entry-level camper rental experience, but to be truthful I would probably upgrade to a VW camper or Airstream rental next time we do a similar trip for style points.
We spent two nights at an RV-friendly camping spot in Desert Hot Springs. It was fun to be camping but still have a lot of modern amenities like access to the hot springs, showers and a convenience store. And then we could set up a more rustic camp (i.e., no amenities) near Joshua Tree at a site called Jumbo Rocks. The kids loved scrambling on the rocks by day and at night it was quieter and starrier than you could ever imagine. There are many beautiful hikes in the park but the one that both the grandparents and the kids could complete on their own was Angel's landing. We headed back to L.A. after that, but the trip was a memorable one for all three generations and one we will definitely repeat.