George Van Tassel built this dome to heal the body through sound, using the telepathic instructions he claims to have received from aliens. Even if you don’t believe in extraterrestrial life, this is one extraordinary structure. Built entirely from wood, it is 38 feet high and 55 feet in diameter. Musicians go wild for the acoustics; meditation groups find space to relax; sky-watchers love the out-of-this-world events. Book a sound bath and relax on a mat while someone plays quartz singing bowls for the full experience. From Palm Springs, take Highway 62 north and turn left on Old Woman Springs Road. Turn right on Reche and left on Belfield Boulevard. www.integratron.com
This rainbow-colored island shimmering in the middle of nowhere is not a mirage. The massive folk art project, created by the late artist Leonard Knight, is a man-made mountain fashioned out of hay bales, clay, and more than half a million gallons of paint. It’s the closest you’ll get to a Dr. Seuss experience in real life. Salvation Mountain was a passion project for Knight, who lived on site for many years and devoted much of his life to spreading the message that “God is love.” Since Knight’s passing, fans and volunteers have stepped in to care for the mountain, which is just as bright, bizarre, and wonderful as ever. Follow Interstate 10 East, Highway 86 south and Highway 111 south to Main Street in Niland. www.salvationmountain.us
The Salton Sea is a lake that was born by accident when flooding on the Colorado River smashed the canal gates that lead into the Imperial Valley. At 45 miles long and 20 miles wide in one of the lowest spots on earth, this inland sea became a booming tourist attraction. Pollution and increasing salinity made the water too hostile to sustain much life, and when the fish died off, the real estate market did too. A recreation area now covers 14 miles of the northeastern shore. That’s where people can camp, fish for tilapia, and go boating or kayaking, as long as you don’t mind walking over a beach made of fish bones and barnacles. Actually quite beautiful, the placid sea reflects the intense, unbroken blue of the desert sky — and it’s a popular stopover for migratory birds. From Interstate 10 East, follow Highway 111 to State Park Road. www.parks.ca.gov
Joshua Tree Retreat Center
Whether you’re into yoga, meditation, or alien life, the Joshua Tree Retreat Center is your om sweet om. The oldest and largest retreat center in the western U.S., this nonprofit facility was created to support education and the nourishment of human potential in its many forms. The building is an architectural landmark, large enough to house 280 people. The center’s 420 acres are perched atop an aquifer, featuring open spaces, native plants, a sweat lodge, and an outdoor amphitheater for events under the stars. From Interstate 10, take Highway 62 East to Joshua Tree. The center is on the left. www.joshuatreeretreatcenter.squarespace.com
Content sponsored by Trilogy at The Polo Club, 51750 Polo Club Drive, Indio, 760-775-5522.
For more information, please visit the Explore 52 day trip kiosk at the Trilogy at the Polo Club clubhouse.