While Celia was in North Carolina, our daughter and son-in-law were visiting Joshua Tree National Park. I left Indio, California and took the Bighorn up to Twenty Nine Palms, California to meet them and do some exploring of Joshua Tree. Celia and I had been to the park a couple of years ago and we knew that this was a great place to visit.
The three of us were able to do some beautiful hikes and the scenery is always spectacular. The Oasis Visitor Center, located at the north-east corner of the park, is not as crowded as the other one in the town of Joshua Tree. We got some maps and were on our way.
Within the park boundaries are two deserts and they differ substantially. The Mojave Desert is found in the northern and western part of the park and that is where much of the visitor activity takes place. This is where you will see the majority of the Joshua Trees, the beautiful rock formations, and interesting hiking trails. The other desert, the Colorado Desert, is located in the eastern half of the park at elevations below 3000 feet.
The Joshua Tree is not actually a tree and does not have “rings” like a tree. It is a very tall type of yucca.
Our first stop was the Split Rock Trail which is one of the nearest trails to the Oasis Visitor Center. This loop was the perfect hike to stretch our legs. We took plenty of water in spite of it not being very warm, but the low humidity makes you thirsty.
There are many wonderful sites that you can see by just driving around the park. Several spots have rocks that appear to be doing some type of balancing act. Cap Rock is one of the many fun stops along the way.
It was getting late so we headed to Keys View because this is the best place in the park to watch the sunset. We were surprised at how many folks had come to see the sunset and it did not disappoint.
Looking southeast from Keys View you could even spot the Salton Sea in the distance.
Once the sun goes down in the desert, it immediately starts to get cold. We didn’t stay around to see the lights of the towns of Palm Desert and Palm Springs.
The next morning we hiked up to Ryan Mountain. This trail is most popular one in the park. At 5,458 feet above sea level, the views are wonderful and you can see the snow atop the highest mountains in the region. When we arrived at the summit, we took our time taking pictures and enjoying the amazing view.
Along the way we also stopped to see Skull Rock. This must be the most popular roadside attraction in the park. We had to wait in line for pictures as folks with fashionable dress clothes and coiffured hair had their Instagram photos perfected.
Afterwards, we took a short hike on the Barker Dam Trail. This trail travels by some of the areas that ranchers used to dam up to provide water for cattle. Due to the two decades of drought in the area though, there was very little water to view but the barriers that funnel the water are still there.
Unique to this trail are various petroglyphs (“rock art” in the park information) that can easily be viewed.
Next was one of the most fun hikes in Joshua Tree, the Arch Rock Trail. We had a great time climbing among the interesting rock formations and of course the Arch Rock itself.
There are several campgrounds that are nestled within the rock formations. These would be great places to spend some time especially if you have a small rig or a tent.
There are many other places to check out and explore. One is called “House of Horrors” and contains narrow crevices to hike through.
The Joshua Trees themselves are plentiful through out the park. They were blooming while we were there and were beautiful.
For us, Joshua Tree National Park is a bucket list kind of place. If you are able to visit, we would recommend it. The month of March is a great time to visit as I am sure that during the summer it would be too hot to enjoy.
Airfare had doubled for Celia to fly back to Palm Springs, so she flew back into the Tucson, Arizona airport. I drove the Bighorn to Tucson and met her there. This is definitely one advantage to having a house on wheels. We have been in southern Arizona/Tucson area for several weeks now enjoying the Saguaros and spending time with some good friends.