I suggest getting the books by Bill Mann. there is a series of them all about the california south west desert. They are available from.
Books & Publications
Areas I really like are Dumont dunes and Kelso dunes out of Baker CA.
Goffs schoolhouse off the 40 freeway almost to the California border.
railroad town of kelso
Mitchell caverns out of Essex off the 40 freeway.
Death Valley if you have a truck or 4x4 the good places are really hard to go through by car. Places like the race track and Titus canyon
Trona Pinnacles out of Death Valley. Might as well stop at Ballarat Ghost Town close to the old Charles Mansion hideout which is now burn't out.
Patton museum at Chiriaco summit on the 10 freeway outside of Indio. While in Indio stop at Shields date farm.
Red Rock Canyon State park is a neat place.
Keep your gas tank full and carry allot of extra water for at least 3 days in your car. Much of the rural desert has no cell service. Depending on how far you venture it can take a while to get help. The desert out here can have 60 degree temperature swings in a single day so be prepared.