Highlights: Joshua Tree National Park
Campground: Site 205; E/W Hookups; The entire park is sand, but we found it easy enough to drive and was pretty level. Tall and thick plantings separated sites. Mountain views everywhere. Extremely nice management. Campground was 5 miles from the main road CA 62 and another 5 to the center of the town of Joshua Tree and Park Boulevard accessing the West Entrance to the Park – which is the most popular entry point.
Sandy, but level sites
Snow capped mountains to the west.
Because we had three days to explore Joshua Tree (and we arrived on a Saturday), the park ranger at the West Entrance Visitor Center advised us to avoid the weekend crowds and go to the town of Twentynine Palms and enter at the North Entrance Station instead. From there we would get to a nice wildflower display going on at the far southern end of the park almost to I-10. Along the way we would see the remarkable Cholla Cactus Garden which stretched for miles - into a vanishing point in the Pinto Basin – a most extraordinary flat basin with 3,983 foot Pinto Mountain and it's neighbors the Eagle and Hexie Mountains surrounding the basin like a great barrier - separating this valley from the rest of the world.
Cholla Cactus Garden
Cholla as far as you can see into the Pinto Basin. Those dots in the valley are all Cholla.
Amazing how the tinies flowers can pop up in this arid and rocky soil.
Look but don't touch!
Cholla so thick, it would be perilous to walk through. Think of people 200 years ago trying to navigate through here on a horse!
Pinto Basin is amazingly vast.
Pinto Mountains protect the Basin from the outside.
Wildflowers just north of the Cottonwood Visitor Center:
Lost Palm Oasis.
Our second day we again entered the Park through the North Station taking a hike from Split Rock Loop to Discovery Trail and to Skull Rock, where we climbed among the rocks for a rest and some photos. Afterwards we drove to Keys View at 5,185 feet it provided remarkable views of Coachella Valley and the vacation hot spot Palm Springs. We stopped at Cap Rock for a walk around the Joshua Trees.
Split Rock Loop Trail
Split Rock Loop Trail
Keys View 5,185 ft.
Joshua Trees near Cap Rock.
Yes, that's a little snow.
The third day we went through the closer West Entrance and hiked Barker Dam, Hidden Valley and a sample of the Boy Scout Trail. Every trail provided more variety and beauty than expected. All trails were easy as well.
Pond at Barker Dam.
Jet trails makes sky art.
Rock climbers like the Hidden Valley area.
Every Joshua Tree is different - which adds to the interest. This one is quite tall. There is one 40' tall in the park. They grow about 2" a year.
The Trojan. Seems all rocks have names, though it is fun coming up with your own.
Boy Scout Trail.
Twilight on the Boy Scout Trail.
Dining: The Corner Cafe in Joshua Tree for really good chili cheese fries ! and burgers. No fancy dining in town. Also tried the recommended Thai restaurant, which was good enough. What out for the spicy meter. 3 of 5 stars is HOT!