Joshua Tree Saloon: The Desert Hub for All Adventurers Including Post Malone and Morgan Wallen

By Lisa Lynn Morgan

For decades, the Joshua Tree Saloon has stood as a beacon of hospitality in the desert, welcoming weary travelers and locals alike with open arms. It’s more than just a place to grab a bite or enjoy a drink—it’s a living testament to the rich history and rugged beauty of the Mojave.

As Joshua Tree National Park continues to draw visitors from around the world, the Saloon remains a steadfast fixture in the community, preserving a legacy that spans generations. With each passing year, it continues to evolve while staying true to its roots, ensuring that future adventurers will have a place to call home in the heart of the desert.

Smack dab in the heart of Joshua Tree, it’s hard to miss Joshua Tree Saloon. With its weathered, rustic décor, and quirky vintage art pieces (like a mounted Ronald McDonald head), you’re transported to a vortex where the old wild west meets early Bob Dylan and maybe even a wandering alien or two. While the ambiance might evoke a sense of nostalgia, the menu exceeds all of today’s standards for good eats. Once you put your face into one of their burgers, you’ll agree – the wild west never had it this good.

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This iconic establishment embodies the spirit of the desert, offering not only a respite from the blazing sun but also a vibrant hub of community and culture. At the helm is the ship’s captain, Camille Ladanne. Formerly owned and operated by her father, Gerard Ladanne, Camille came into the venue at the age of 21 where her only expectation was to work as a part time cocktail waitress to help pay for her house. Slowly and steadily, she graduated to other areas of management, eventually stepping into it full time. Her proven leadership allowed her father to claim, “retirement status,” though you still see him there often, always in a supportive role. “He helps my brain a lot,” shared Camille, fondly. “Being inside your own head, isn’t great. I may already have the answer, but he helps me realize it. The Saloon was my father’s vision from the very beginning. It wouldn’t be what it is today without him.”

The saloon has been through a few changes over the years. Camille’s family first opened the saloon in 1985, purchasing “The Boom Boom Room” and its neighboring liquor store. It was originally renamed “Gabby’s,” in honor of Camille’s grandfather before it eventually claimed its identity as Joshua Tree Saloon.

Gabriel Ladanne with Post Malone

The Saloon’s location and aesthetic make it a popular destination for locals, visitors, passersby, and local military. Often there is a line of folks eager to sit inside. Fortunately, a large patio area in back affords ample seating. But mere popularity doesn’t make a business successful. Camille worked hands on in every aspect of the business in order to pragmatically refine procedures and ensure quality. Her favorite place is in the kitchen, expediting orders and providing hands-on help as needed. No fry goes out cold on her watch.

As challenging as the food industry is, no challenge matched that of the lockdowns that came with Covid-19. Demonstrating a strong ability to pivot, and loyalty to her long-time employees, Camille forged on. For a long time, the restaurant had been dine-in only. But when the only option became outdoor dining, she went to work fine-tuning the back patio to accommodate diners who had very few options to turn to. “I’ve always gone with the flow,” shared Camille, “but I definitely learned to just roll with things. You kind of just have to learn to bob and weave, I guess,” as she recounted the multiple changes that were thrown at businesses during the crisis. Today, those changes still contribute to the quality and quantity of service to her growing customer base.

Flash forward to 2024 and you have music A-listers seeking out the Saloon for their hit video. Camille recalls not putting a whole lot into the email she received from a producer inquiring about using the Saloon for a video shoot. That email would lead to the Saloon being bought out for none other than Post Malone and Morgan Wallen, who had both just performed at the 2024 Stagecoach Music Festival.

On the morning that the crew arrived, Camille and team came in early after a busy night, to ready the Saloon for the filming (including taking down the iconic Ronald McDonald head due to potential trademark issues). If locals weren’t suspicious that something was going down at the Saloon, the fireworks erupting in the lot out back, confirmed it.

The video and song for, “I Had Some Help,” would immediately go viral upon their release, and while, after editing, you can’t identify the staff, they were all  there. The iconic photo of the two hitmakers making heart hands together (seen all over social media), was taken at the iconic sticker wall under the Saloon’s marque.

Local Artist, Cory Hamilton, with a gift for Post Malone.

Chris Terres with Post Malone

Even with Hollywood and Nashville in its rear-view mirror, Joshua Tree Saloon remains a place where the community enjoys local stars and live music alongside a full bar and menu that can comfort any pallet. From hearty burgers and savory BBQ to fresh salads, and vegetarian options, good times are a regular tasty adventure. And where many restaurants have been forced to raise prices to accommodate the rising costs of food and labor, Joshua Tree Saloon has chosen to absorb much of that expense making every effort to continue their long history of feeding the high desert as affordably as possible. “You can only raise prices so much,” offered Camille, “and then you just have to accept that you’re going to make less money. There’s a fine balance of staying in business, having quality
food, and trying to keep the dishes and drinks affordable.”

No visit to the Joshua Tree Saloon is complete without experiencing its vibrant entertainment lineup. Throughout the week, the saloon hosts live music performances featuring talented local artists and traveling bands. Whether you’re into rock, blues, or folk, you’re sure to find a toe-tapping rhythm that keeps you coming back for more. And if you’re feeling brave, you can even join in on the fun during open mic nights, showcasing your own musical talents to an enthusiastic audience.

Beyond its culinary delights and live entertainment, the Joshua Tree Saloon serves as a gathering place for adventurers from near and far. It’s where hikers swap stories of conquering rugged trails, climbers recount their triumphs on towering rock faces, and explorers share tips for navigating the vast desert landscape. It’s also a place where locals can share a meal together or sit at the bar and be treated like family.

Here, strangers become friends over shared experiences and a mutual love for the great outdoors. It’s a place where the spirit of adventure is alive and well, fueling the sense of camaraderie that permeates every corner of the saloon.

Photos courtesy of Joshua Tree Saloon.

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