During COVID19, I have stayed close to home. In Fall of 2021, I went on a road trip to Death Valley. Although I have traveled to over 100 countries and 6 continents, it was my first visit to this epic National Park. I went with a friend from my cruise ship days and her two teens. They were shocked that even though we both grew up in California, neither of us had ever been. After that awesome experience, we decided to travel to Joshua Tree in February 2022 again all of our first experience of this incredible area.
Joshua Tree was established as a National Monument in 1936 when President Franklin Roosevelt signed a proclamation protecting this part of the desert. In 1994, under the California Desert Protection Act, the monument became a National Park. Joshua Tree National Park contains about 800,000 acres of unspoiled desert including the Mojave or high desert and the Colorado or low desert. Humans have lived in this area for about 10,000 years. In order to plan our trip, I read several guide books, talked to friends who had been and most importantly we stopped at the Visitor’s Center to learn from the Rangers.
DAY ONE in Joshua Tree:
Our first adventure was to 49 Palms Oasis.
“Fortynine Palms Oasis is one of Joshua Tree National Park’s desert oases. Located in the northern portion of the park, this oasis provides a refuge among the desert mountains. By providing a reliable source of water, this little oasis allows life to thrive in this seemingly harsh environment. The oasis is reachable by the Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail, a three mile out and back hike with 300 feet elevation gain in each direction. The trail is on compact dirt with an average grade of 8% and max grade of 27%.” We loved this trail and did not find it too challenging. Bring plenty of water and look for the lizards! I took so many videos, our hike is in three parts!
Split Rock to Skull Rock
Driving in Joshua Tree
Watching the climbers at Quail Springs
Sunset at Joshua Tree Day 1
We traveled in a 2022 Genesis GV70 which we LOVED!
We ate at The Rib Co
DAY TWO: Joshua Tree Hiking
Arch Rock is a short 1.4 mile hike to 100 feet elevation gain to an arch!
One of the Park Rangers told us NOT to miss Heart Rock. They have newly added signs to point you in the right direction from the Arch Rock Trail. We loved it! Teenager approved!
“Approximately 12 miles (20 km) south of the park’s north entrance is the 0.25 mile (0.4 km) Cholla Cactus Garden Nature Trail; this flat loop leads hikers through nearly 10 acres (4 hectares) of landscape dominated by the teddybear cholla. This unusual stand of cacti is located in the Pinto Basin, a large expanse of alluvial fans covered with creosote bush (Larrea tridentata) and burrobush (Ambrosia dumosa) for as far as the eye can see. There are very few teddybear cholla stands in the park.”
We were surprised by how many cactus were here. I would love to go back when they have more flowers.
Many people go to Keys View for sunset but we were told to go to Quail Springs for sunset and Keys view earlier in the day to see the San Andreas Fault! You can also see the crest of the Little San Bernardino Mountains, panoramic views of the Coachella Valley and on a clear day Signal Mountain in Mexico.
“Barker Dam Trail is an easy 1.1 mile loop. Wander through Joshua Tree’s iconic monzogranite boulders, namesake Joshua trees, and past the historic Barker Dam. Visit a rock art site and experience human history from a respectful distance.
REMEMBER: It is HOT In the DESERT especially during summer months. Temperatures in the desert can reach over 100°F (38°C). This trail has minimal shade. Park staff recommend wearing sun protection and drinking at least one liter of water. Wear footwear for rock scrambling and climbing.
The Joshua Trees made me think of something out of a Dr. Seuss book. They are actually tree-sized Yuccas plants. I absolutely LOVED my first visit to this spectacular National Park and will definitely visit again.