Look at pictures of Joshua Tree and you’ll see an unmistakable gateway to paradise — the kind that coaxes you to explore and venture out, an interactive kind of vacation marked with the restorative powers of seeing nature unveil itself if you look more closely.

But if you want a more relaxed trip, read on. Smack dab in the Joshua Tree reserve is a minimalist space called the Joshua Tree Desert Retreat. The sophisticatedly subdued house reeks of modern but also scales it down to compliment its barren environs. If you want to get away from the spoils of modern urban life, this is the place to hightail to.

The Joshua Tree Desert Retreat sits on a sandy plot. Inside, you’ll find an office area that cantilevers over a natural slope, propped up thanks to a foundation of stilts. Glazed windows that span from the floor to the ceiling let light in, and also offer a spectacular panoramic view of the mountain landscape enveloping the house. The concrete facade offers protection from the harsh sun and wind.

The entire Joshua Tree Desert Retreat space operates off-grid, too, by the way, and depends on solar panels and a battery back-up system for power. Like the place on which it sits, the Joshua Tree Desert House serves as a reminder of the beauty in spite of precarious living. Yes, the creature comforts don’t come readily available. But that’s kind of the point. Real life, out here, doesn’t come easy and smooth and straightforward. You’ll have to make do with the limits of comfort with amenities taken out. And only then will you truly realize the meaning of getaway.

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Photos courtesy of Northworks Architects + Planners