Thursday, March 17, 2011

Idyllwild, CA ~ San Jacinto Mountains

Some days are just chock full of travel treasures but we just don’t have time to see it all!  We had one of those days when we planned a day visit to Temecula to visit friends involved in the car show there. I will share more of that on another blog page but on that same day, we decided that if we drove back another way, we would also be able to visit Idyllwild, CA.
Idyllwild, California
Idyllwild is in the San Jacinto Mountains in southern California and the elevation is 1600 meters (5303 ft) so is much cooler than the heat of the desert in the Coachella Valley on the other side of the mountains.  This mountain resort was once where the Cahuilla Indians made their summer homes to escape the heat of the desert.

Ponderosa Pines lines streets of Idyllwild, CA
We followed Interstate 15 from Temecula then took State highway 74 to 243 before we arrived in Idyllwild about an hour later.  We saw some great scenery as we wound our way up to see more big ponderosa pine trees and these are very big trees.

Views from State Hwy 74
There is no downhill ski hill on this mountain but there are many activities to keep you busy.  There is camping, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing and horseback riding.  There could be some limits on these when the snow blankets the mountains but there are many things to spend time enjoying including shops and the arts.

Artspresso Gallery in Idyllwild, CA
We spent a bit of time wandering through some of the shops there.  One stop was at the Artspresso Gallery, where we had a chance meeting with the artist Gerry High, well known local artist here as well as in the Coachella Valley and beyond.  I have more information on Gerry High on another blog page.

Prairie Cove Boutique in Idyllwild, CA
Another quaint shop on North Circle Drive in Idyllwild is Prairie Dove.  A small shop that was once no doubt a home but converted to a store that carries beautiful clothes and accessories.   Shopping is made more tempting when clothes are unique and are not going to be found in a local department or chain store so stop by to shop and visit with Phyllis and enjoy her talent for buying great merchandise.

Largest pine cones at sunset
We wanted to get back down the winding road to I-10 before dark but we made a stop at Indian Vista to enjoy the view from there.  The ponderosa pine shown here had the largest cones I had ever seen.  I would guess that these were at least a foot long !

Indian Vista on Hwy 74 to Banning, CA

The San Jacinto Mountains have vistas to enjoy at every turn of the road. The setting sun showed the smog from the big cities in the west lying low in the valleys but it only added to the beauty of the view. Learn more about this neat little hamlet here.


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