US/Mexico border roughly an hour east of San Diego lies the high desert town of Jacumba Hot Springs. In the 20's and 30's, before the rise of Palm Springs and Murietta, Jacumba's warm dry climate, natural hot springs, and iconic Hotel Jacumba made it a swinging hot spot, hosting hollywood elite. Today, the tiny town of 500, comprised mostly of depilated buildings, has lost much of its charm.
Jacumba's secret lies in its backroads. The Mars-like scenery of the Jacumba Wilderness is gnarly, desolate and possesses a natural boulder infested beauty on par with any overcrowded national park, like Joshua Tree.
The difficult roads keep the area empty. Occasionally you'll spot a Wrangler, rock climbers, border patrol agents, or a rogue journeymen making his way from Mexico to god knows where. But general, the Valley of the Moon is an opportunity to get away from it all and soak in some amazing scenery.