The hot and forbidding landscape of California’s deserts exerts a powerful fascination for adventurous travellers. The two distinct regions are the Low Desert in the south, the most easily reached from LA, containing the opulent oasis of Palm Springs and the primeval expanse of Joshua Tree National Park; and the Mojave or High Desert, dominated by Death Valley and stretching along Hwy-395 to the sparsely populated Owens Valley, infamous as the place from which LA stole its water a hundred years ago.
It is impossible to do justice to this area without a car. Palm Springs can be reached on public transport from LA, but only the periphery of Joshua Tree is accessible and it’s a long hot walk to anywhere worth seeing. You can get as far as dreary Barstow on Greyhound and Amtrak, but no transport traverses Death Valley, understandably so in the summer.