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Photo by Jay Carroll
Influencers + Tastemakers

A Local’s Guide to Joshua Tree with Entrepreneur Alison Carroll

Alison Carroll, co-owner of lifestyle company Wonder Valley, will quickly tell you how Joshua Tree—home to "a unique intersection of outsider artists, reclusive squatters, and outlaws on the lam"—is an infinite source of inspiration and imagination. Calling the sun-bleached desert stretch their full-time home and work base, Carroll and her husband Jay have perfected the art of living simply. Here, Jetsetter picks her brain for the best spots to eat, stay, and play— and task her with drawing out her perfect day at home.

A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.

See recent posts by Chelsea Stuart

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Photo by Jay Carroll

Tell us a little about how Wonder Valley got started.

Wonder Valley is a region of the California desert lying 30 miles east of Joshua Tree. The landscape is beautiful and harsh; with sparse sun-battered cabins and tumbleweeds. There’s room out here—to think, create, build. It’s the perfect blank canvas and endless inspiration.

Wonder Valley was started three years ago by myself and my husband, Jay. The products we create are a celebration of ‘grandeur in simplified living,’ the cornerstone and first product being our W.V. extra virgin olive oil. My background was in California olive oil (specifically industry advocacy and sensory analysis), so it was a natural starting place for us. Olive oil is a universal product—no matter your diet, your culture, everyone has a bottle of olive oil on their shelf—it’s unifying and utilitarian in nature. We wanted to create useful, beautiful products that make everyday routines extraordinary.

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What do you love about living and working in Joshua Tree?

What I love the most about living in Joshua Tree is what a blank canvas it is—we’re creating our dream life out here. My husband, Jay, and I rehabbed our old homesteader mostly by hand and it’s completely tailored around our needs and lifestyle; every room connects outside and there’s a large wood-burning outdoor kitchen in the yard. We work from the studio in our home and I commute five minutes down the road to our new shop, the Wonder Valley Oil Shop at The Station in Joshua Tree—which opens March 17th. Our property borders the national park and we spend a lot of our free time outdoors hiking in our backyard with our dog Lefty.

Cacti in the desert of Palm Springs

We at Jetsetter are firm believers that locals know their cities best. What places do you recommend to visitors?

The 29 Palms Inn or Mojave Sands for lodging; the Wonder Valley Oil Shop and The Station for shopping; local roadhouse Pappy & Harriet’s for ribs, margaritas, and a show; the all-wood Integratron sound chamber for far-out sound baths; and Smith’s Ranch for old-school drive-in movies.

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Above photo by Jay Carroll

Exterior of Pioneertown in Palm Springs
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Art instillations in the Mojave Desert

Where do you love to shop?

Filthmart and CAP Beauty in LA, Kapital in Japan, Mano Mercantile in Marfa, and Santa Fe Vintage and Shiprock in Santa Fe.

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What would an ideal Saturday look like for you at home?

I’d head to the farmers’ market early and load up on produce then head back home where Jay has Gram Parsons playing loud throughout the house and I’ll cook us a big breakfast. We’ll drink our favorite Japanese tea and read design magazines and sketch out ideas and dreams for projects we’re working on—like our hotel project, El Rey Court, in Santa Fe, NM. In the afternoon, we’ll go swimming down the road at our friends’ cattle trough pool and do cannon balls off the boulders. Early evening, we’ll head to the national park—we have a meeting spot with friends—and have a big barbecue until the sun sets and then head back home.

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You can follow Alison on Instagram at @alaalison or her company at @wondervalley. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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