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Escape urban stress at Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument
Escape urban stress at Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument

Barreling across the desert toward Palm Springs, I measured my progress on Interstate 10 by the unsightly roadside landmarks I passed: a sprawl of outlet malls, a pair of larger-than-life concrete dinosaurs, brigades of windmills marching through the Banning Pass. California's desert usually enchants me, but scenery like this repels. On this particular February day, however, a prize awaited just a few miles down the highway: Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument. The long-winded name doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. And don't feel bad if you've never heard of it. Even though the park just celebrated its 10th anniversary, many people show up at...

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