If you haven’t noticed yet, I LOVE exploring National Parks! Every year we try to visit at least one, but this year, we’re hitting up at least three! For my birthday, last month, we kicked off the new year with a whirlwind camping trip to Joshua Tree National Park in California. When I say whirlwind, I mean we arrived on Sunday afternoon and headed home Monday evening!
We got to the park around 3pm on Sunday. Arriving that late during peak season doesn’t leave a lot of available camp spots and all of the ideal spots were taken. We lucked out an found a few open spaces in the Cottonwood Campground which is at the south entrance of the park right off I-10. For those of you who have an idea of what Joshua Tree looks like, the Cottonwood Campground is nothing like it. The camp spaces are small, crowded (and cost $20 per night), and the terrain is like the desert you see between Arizona and California along I-10. but for us arriving late, we were happy to get anything. After getting our camper set up, we headed into the park to explore a little (an made a run into Twenty-nine Palms for beer!). Heading back to camp that evening, we were greeted by an amazing sunset behind the silhouettes of cacti and Joshua trees.
The next morning, we woke up early knowing that our time was limited. We both had to be back at work the next day, so we set out to explore the rest of the park. The night before we had gone to the north east area of the park, so on this day we went west. The western portion of the park is everything that you can imagine Joshua Tree being. Amazing boulder formations, breathtaking mountains views and of course, Joshua Trees as far as the eye can see. The rock formations are pretty incredible and fun for the kid in me who loves to run around and climb things!
The formation above is called “Skull Rock”…creative…I know.
The snow-capped mountain is Mt. San Jacinto, the mountain that towers over Palm Springs. It hosts an amazing tram that travels 2 miles up the mountain and lends way to epic views. That will be a whole other blog post though.
We drove up to Keys View in order to get a better look at the San Jacinto mountain range. Freezing cold wind nearly blew us over, but the view of the mountains, the Salton Sea and Coachella Valley were worth it.
Down the hill we explored some of the most infamous climbing areas of Joshua Tree.
After roaming around the “tourist” points of Joshua Tree, we decided to take a more adventurous route along Berdoo Canyon Road. It’s a dirt road, which requires 4-wheel drive, that leads you through the park, into a valley that runs through the San Bernadino Mountains and pops you out in Coachella.
Overall, it was a great trip. But as far as visiting again goes, since we are not climbers, we left feeling satisfied that we had seen all Joshua Tree has to offer and probably won’t go back unless we’re meeting friends halfway (from Phoenix and So. Cal) for a camping trip.
Explore Joshua Tree: nps.gov/jotr
“I love you to the mountains and back” enamel mug: theparksapparel.com