Each fall, I look forward to the extremely cozy activity of apple picking. The best place for this in Southern California is out by Palm Springs in a mountain town called Yucaipa. Usually we drive out and back in one day but seeing as my pregnant body isn’t quite up for that much sitting, we decided to use this as an excuse for a little vacation. And in doing so we accidentally stumbled upon another perfect 24-hour get-away complete with desert, mountains, palm trees, crystal clear water, hot apple cider and dozens of mini-donuts. Not to mention apple picking.
After a quick Airbnb search, we found a traditional log cabin in a canyon just off the highway called Whitewater. Turns out that Whitewater is sacred land that has been occupied for the last 11,000 due to the abundance of clean and clear water. Our Airbnb host Marcus runs a foundation dedicated to researching this desert oasis. The cabin itself is ideal lodging for a party of two, with a comfy bed, claw foot bath tub and a stocked kitchen (the fridge was filled with granola, coffee, bagels, milk and other treats). After a sunset walk through the quiet roads, we spent the evening listening to radio and making Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup.
The next morning we rose with the sun and went out to explore the Whitewater Preserve, two miles up the road. What makes this canyon such a treasure is that despite being situated in a hot desert landscape, Whitewater boasts a year-round emerald-hued running river. Exploration is easy with endless nature trails and a visitor center filled with helpful tips about how to best experience the preserve (bird watching, anyone?).
Once we were fully blissed out on nature, we hit the road and drove about thirty miles west to the the town of Yucaipa, i.e. apple land. Our first stop was lunch at Agnus McCurdy’s where we ate cheeseburgers and split an apple dumpling. Next we stopped into Mom’s Country Orchards to browse their selection of homemade delectable canned goods, like cinnamon apple sauce and spiced pears. And there was no way I could pass the sign for Snow Line Orchard advertising “Apple Cider Donuts” without pulling over and picking up a dozen. With cinnamon sugar dusted hands, we arrived at Riley’s Farm where we paid $32 for an empty box and instructions to lift up and twist. We left with around 80 perfect apples, which feels like a pretty good deal to me considering you’re not only walking away with a big box of fruit but you’re also getting a pretty picturesque experience. Apple picking is available at several different farms in Yucapia through the end of October. Check this site for details.