Joshua Tree National Park: My First Visit!


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.

Lisa Niver at 49 Palms Oasis, Joshua Tree, Feb 18, 2022

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:

Arch Rock is a short 1.4 mile hike to 100 feet elevation gain to an arch!

Heart Rock

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!

Cholla Cactus Garden

“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.

Keys View

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

“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.

Enjoy all THIRTY VIDEOS from our road trip in February 2022:

Thank you to Julia, Eva and Alessio for the AMAZING road trip adventure! Thank you so much to Genesis 2022 GV70! We loved our road trip! Want to see our trip to Death Valley? CLICK HERE For that trip we had a 2021 Genesis G80! Coming soon–Pioneertown, Outdoor Art Museum and Palm Springs Art and Escape Room!

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries on six continents. This University of Pennsylvania graduate sailed across the seas for seven years with Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Renaissance Cruises and spent three years backpacking across Asia. Discover her articles in publications from AARP: The Magazine and AAA Explorer to WIRED and Wharton Magazine, as well as her site WeSaidGoTravel. On her award nominated global podcast, Make Your Own Map, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors, and as a journalist has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty-two times. Named a #3 travel influencer for 2023, Niver talks travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, her YouTube channel with over 2 million views, and in her memoir, Brave-ish, One Breakup, Six Continents and Feeling Fearless After Fifty.

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