When you turn left on God’s Way Love Road, in the desert wilderness a few miles from Pioneertown, CA, you are entering the magical world of Garth’s Boulder Gardens, a 640 acres privately owned sanctuary that is practically off the grid and is a perfect reflection of the founder, Garth Bowles’ heart. Garth was born and raised in Riverside, CA. In the mid-seventies he gave up all his possessions and walked barefoot across America, dreaming the future of living consciously with nature in reverence of all her beings. Not long after, he came across the magical piece of land that is now known as Garth's Boulder Gardens.
The sanctuary is testament to Garth’s vision of sustainability and 40 years of his hard work which at 4800 feet of elevation and the often harsh high-desert conditions, at times, had its own challenges. For twenty years Garth would haul water daily from Pioneertown and now the sanctuary has two solar powered wells that supply up to 10 gallons of water minute, weather permitting.
Garth dug 3.5 miles of water line all the way around the property by hand, 18 inches into the ground. He then put 23 spigots that supply water from seven tanks placed strategically to accommodate the sanctuary’s needs. It took him ten years to get the operation going. And just recently they added another well for a hefty $41,000 that was all made possible through the workshops and spiritual retreats held on the premises. The sanctuary features an amphitheater and a large yoga deck where the events take place.
Garth did indeed create heaven on earth through his passion for the land, he carefully built the living spaces around nature’s gifts, the desert shrubs and trees, like the Cosmic Castle, one of the peculiar accommodations at the sanctuary. This is a place where people can come together to celebrate and reconnect with nature and enjoy the sound of bullfrogs, peacocks, roosters, squirrels, quails, the brilliance of the desert and the frequent sightings of desert turtles, rabbits, lizards.
Through my wanderings on the land, I discovered petroglyphs, spent hours napping in open-air caves, refreshed my body in the pool decorated with crystals amplifying its frequency and dried off on a boulder and got fully recharged for the next adventure. Being a part of and not apart from nature, perfectly immersed in its grandeur with the utmost reverence is exactly what Garth longed to create for himself and for visitors. His vision is helped by volunteers, the stewards of the sanctuary, who help with the maintenance of the land, the facilities and all that requires attention. They often gather at the communal area by the open-air kitchen on vintage sofas accompanied by relaxed canines enjoying the mid-afternoon breeze.
“Here, there’s no time, no schedule” says Rick, 57 who has lived at the sanctuary full time for 10 years. Originally from Palm Springs, he found the Boulder Gardens by accident and set up a tent twenty years ago.
At first, he couldn’t imagine living there full-time, but after his frequent visits, eventually he sold his house with a pool, quit his lucrative job in the interior design world and moved to the sanctuary. You will often find him walking Indigo, a sizable peacock, atop his shoulder, or a mama chicken with her chicks. He sometimes takes Indigo, or Penelope, Indigo’s mate on 5-mile hikes.
Greg, 39, from the Sacramento area, has been living at Garth’s for over 6 months and is an ever-curious adventurer, who finds stewarding the sanctuary beyond rewarding. He explored many of the caves in the area and introduced me to one with a breathtaking, 180-degree view of the plateau that also features what he calls a “wine cellar”.
“You wouldn’t just wander into someone’s backyard and jump into their pool, would you?” he said referring to the frequent day-tripper influencers who often walk past Garth’s tipi and the communal kitchen without saying a word.
Garth and the community love visitors and gifts are always welcome, whether that is a crystal, some fruit, things for the kitchen, supplies or a donation placed in the box by the communal area or by the exit gate or via Venmo to help offset some of the expenses associated with sanitizing the portable bathrooms and other maintenance related costs.
If you need a full reset away from the city noise and be around the kindest and most interesting people perfectly immersed in a non-judgemental environment, amidst the divine backdrop of giant boulders with their heartbeats, carefully placed by an invisible hand in the enchanted desert, then this is the place for you. You will be welcomed with open arms and by Garth’s fascinating stories as he tells them by lively crystals and chattering quail.
To support Boulder Gardens, go to Venmo.com. @garthsbouldergardens4245
To book your accommodations and camping head to Hipcamp.com