A visit to Joshua Tree National Park

Thursday 1-10 was another beautiful day. We almost (ALMOST) feel guilty having such good wether when so much of the country is dealing with the frigid cold and snow. The last couple days have been in the high 70’s and Saturday was expected to be a couple degrees cooler but still pretty warm so we decided to take advantage of it and head to the Joshua Tree National Park.

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Where we are camped in Indio Ca. is at an elevation of -13ft and the entrance of the park that we went to was in Joshua Tree Village which is at an elevation of 2700ft and the highest part of the park which is at a spot called the “Keys View” is at 5185ft so visiting on a warm day in Indio/Palm Springs made for a great day of hiking at the slightly higher elevation.

Ok, because the park is called Joshua tree just what is a Joshua tree? The Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia), is a member of the Agave family and grow nowhere else in the world except in the Mojave Desert of southwest California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona, at elevations from 2,000 to 6,000 feet. They vary in height from 15 to 40 feet with a diameter of 1 to3 feet and they grow 2 to 3 inches a year, takes 50 to 60 years to mature and they can live 150 years.

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Because I mentioned the “Keys View” we can start there. It’s an overlook at 5185ft like we mentioned that on a clear day you can see into Mexico. But because even on the written information at the lookout statements like “What’s wrong with this picture (The Haze)” is put in permanent print I would guess a clear day is pretty rare because of the southern California smog LOL!! Too bad. So we will share a couple pictures that we took through “The haze” and we will share one that we borrowed from the Joshua Tree National Park website so you can see what a “rare” clear day view would be like.

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We hiked the 1 mile Hidden Valley trail loop. The trail leads through boulders to what is said to have been a popular valley for old cattle rustler’s to hideout and let cattle graze. IMG_6319 IMG_6321 IMG_6323Hmmm, but if it was popular was it really a good place to hide I ask??

See the climbers?

See the climbers?

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There were a couple spots on this trail that we found people climbing. Of course it was hard to NOT find people climbing almost anywhere we looked. In fact the park is one of the most popular rock climbing areas in the world with more than 4,500 established routes. This high desert climbing mecca is famous for its traditional-style crack, slab, and steep-face climbing. With more than 400 climbing formations and 8,000 climbing routes. More power to them I say, I would probably pee myself on the side of one of those rocks. LOOK OUT BELOW!!!! LOL!!

We also hiked the easy 1.8 mile looped Barker Dam trail that took us to a dam built in the early 1900’s to hold water for cattle and mining use, today the area is a rain-fed reservoir that attracts local wildlife.

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I guess there is a pretty good sized lake that forms when it rains but there wasn’t much water while we were there.

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Towards the end of the trail we found some Native American petroglyphs. Well, we didn’t find them LOL. Some of them have been painted over in order to make them more visible unfortunately.

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The Barker Dam Trail is a very easy hike that almost anyone can do and took us just a little over an hour to do I guess.

Then we drove the 18 mile Geology Tour Road. Even though there are numerous interesting geologic formations along the route that Diane wanted to see, I mainly wanted to drive it because they recommended 4 wheel drive rigs only. But it was really a mellow run, no 4 wheel drive needed at all even though I may not drive a Prius on the road LOL!!

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After the Geology Road we made a short stop at Skull Rock and messed around climbing around in the rocks before making our way to the Cholla Cactus Garden.

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There is a short well marked trail that leads you through tons of the dreaded Cholla Cactus. We have taken many nice strolls through numerous gardens but we NEVER thought we would be strolling through a Cholla Garden just for the heck of it LOL!! Here is a link telling about the Cholla if you are not familiar with them. http://www.desertusa.com/mag99/may/papr/chollas.html

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I can assure you that if you spend much time in the desert in these parts you WILL know and respect them. OR pay the painful price.

By the time we left the Cholla Garden the sun had dipped behind the mountains and darkness wasn’t far away so we headed towards the Cottonwood Visitor Center where we made our way out of the park.

Even though there are supposed to be 250 bighorn sheep living in the park we were not lucky enough to catch a glimpse of any, but we kept a sharp eye out. In fact we didn’t see many critters at all except a few birds and one small lizard.

Once out of the park we had a 30 mile drive to get us back to Indio. And of course somehow we didn’t have anything out for dinner so we ended up deciding to stop for dinner on our way home.

Just as we reached the parking lot where a couple restaurants were located we got a text from our buddy Larry asking how we were liking the Patriots game!!! WHAT!!! We thought they played Sunday!!!

Well that put Diane into an instant panic because the Patriots are Diane’s team!! Within seconds she located a pub that she could see had a game playing on a TV and was in the door, only to find out the Patriots game was over and the Seattle game was underway, bummer.

Oh well, she was happy her team won and we settled in with a couple cold beers and had a nice dinner while watching part of the Seattle game before heading home.

Another great day.

Sunday 1/11 was just a day of watching football and chillin. Another perfect day.

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2 Responses to A visit to Joshua Tree National Park

  1. explorvistas says:

    Thanks for the heads up on the Cholla Cactus! That area is very unique. Can’t wait to visit!

  2. lar says:

    What a great travel log you give on your adventures, and the “Extra” educational info on the details and answers to the questions before we ask them, very intuitive reporting. We would love one of those 70 degree days.

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