Invisible Among the Stars: My Trip to Joshua Tree

Date: 10/11/2023

Read along as I share with you my recent experience under the Milky Way at Joshua Tree National Park and the famed Invisible House.

Growing up in Ukraine you could always see the stars. Back then, I was so far away from all the big-city lights (their own kind of stars) of my future homes in New York and now Los Angeles, that I couldn’t imagine a time when I wouldn’t be able to watch the sky. I suspect this is why I’ve always held within me a deep desire to see the night sky in its full brilliance again–to reclaim some of the time I’ve spent without seeing the stars. It might even be why I’ve always held fast to my dream of watching the Milky Way on a clear night in one of the most sought-after star-gazing spots in the world: Joshua Tree. 

Well, I’m happy to say, my friends, that after so many years of keeping this item on my bucket list: I finally did it! And granted, while I had visited Joshua Tree long before my health took a turn for the worse, enjoying some incredible hikes with a dear old friend, I hadn’t taken the chance to stop and watch the stars–and so, I recently went back to enjoy the deep and wondrous joy that comes with witnessing the endless expanse of space–and the trillions of stars lighting up our home galaxy.

Finding Joshua Tree at The Invisible House

Because it’s been a long-time dream of mine to go to Joshua Tree to star-gaze, I was well aware that in 2023, the peak time to view the Milky Way would be mid-August, which led me to book the renowned Invisible House for two nights from August 12. I couldn’t believe my luck that the house was available – it had been yet another bucket list item of mine due to its incredible mirrored design on the outside and glass-themed style on the inside. It’s an architect’s dream, and I certainly felt a deep sense of appreciation for being able to witness an entire landscape of wilderness from anywhere in the home.

But what else did I actually find there? If you’ll humor me, I’d love to share with you the full breadth of my experience at the park! 

(P.S. if you want to know the optimal viewing times to visit Joshua Tree, use this article for your planning process).

What is Joshua Tree?

If you don’t know, Joshua Tree is a US National Park in California that is actually larger than Rhode Island, and is about two hours from Los Angeles amid the diverse terrain of the Mojave Desert. And while some people end up thinking that Joshua Tree is just one tree that millions go to view each year, the truth is that there are hundreds of thousands of Joshua Trees at home there, each lending its branches to the park’s name! 

Not that the trees are the only feature of the park. Noting that there are quite a few established ‘resort-like’ facilities on the land, the biggest draw to the area is the incredible rock formations that give you the sense of being on Mars, or some other alien landscape. It makes sense though, some of the rocks are estimated to be about 1.7 billion years old! Seriously, just look up a few photos of the rocks there and you’ll be transported just as I was. 

In fact, it’s likely this ‘alien’ influence that adds to the natural wonder of the night sky at Joshua Tree, where visitors travel from across the globe to witness the clearest views of the Milky Way at the United State’s most popular Dark Sky Park!

The Invisible House

If you haven’t heard of it before, the Invisible House is an architectural marvel that lives just off of Joshua Tree, and is considered a true work of art. Just now, it’s on the market for about $18 million dollars–which had me dreaming big while I stayed between the open-space walls there. Knowing that the house blends in so well with the surrounding landscape, due to its mirrored facade that is transparent from the inside, made it truly feel as if my partner and I were disappearing into the desert. It gave us the sense that we were truly in the middle of nowhere–and when the night sky would lift up from the horizon, the feeling would become even more pronounced.

And though the true pull for us was the stars, I can’t help but gush over the 100-foot indoor pool we had access to while staying there. In the heat of the day, you could barely get me out of the water, and I just loved the feeling of swimming from the living room to the bedroom, and back! If you’re wondering what the space looks like, I recommend you check out this article that gives a tour inside the Joshua Tree Invisible House. Pay special attention to the landscape just outside the house, too, since that’s where my partner and I cozied up each night to watch the stars pass by. 

Witnessing the Milky Way at Joshua Tree

When you live under city lights, seeing the stars becomes a truly novel way to get back in touch with nature. And although I had really wanted to see the Milky Way, I was blown away by the effect that two slow nights of star gazing outside, cuddled in the arms of my husband, soft, tranquil music playing in the background would have on my spirit. Truly, the experience has reopened my heart, and cleared away some of the ‘grime’ that comes with forgetting the depth and endlessness of space.

Not to mention, it is just wild to me to think that we humans can see some of the universe’s most beautiful creations with our naked eye. From my own basic knowledge, that means I was able to see the Andromeda galaxy without a telescope, and enjoyed the yellow glow of the special light that emanates from the brightest star-clusters in the Milky Way.

In closing, this experience was entirely magic. I was transported to another world for the hours we spent each night watching the sky change. I saw so many shooting stars I lost count, among other interesting galactic objects and movement–from satellites, to planes, to bats and other night birds. I try not to set any expectations in life, and yet this trip exceeded all of my wildest dreams. I couldn’t have imagined just how full our sky is when we’re not looking, and it’s certainly fun to look up at night (now that I’m here at home) knowing what’s beyond the man-made light show that makes up our night sky on the coast.  So, if I can leave you with anything, it is to find a way to reconnect with the stars. Go on a night-time trip outside of town and build up that relationship with the sky until you, too, are transported out of this world! And if you happen to find yourself in Joshua Tree, staring up at the Milky Way, know that I have been there too, and that I’m with you! Plus I would be happy to hear all about your own galactic magic experience–so don’t hesitate to reach out through my Instagram to tell me all about it!

Until then,