It’s about a three-hour drive out to Twenty-nine Palms, but with 24 hours notice that gave me enough time to put together a playlist on Spotify and prepare to pack a cooler. Jump in the car in the early morning and off we go.
What I love the most about living in California is just the opportunity for adventure that surrounds me. I am within 15 minutes of the canyons, an hour from the desert, an hour from the mountains, 45 minutes from the beach…but the landscape at seen at Joshua Tree National Park is unlike anything I had ever seen. I had seen Joshua Trees around the California landscape and that sparked my fascination. Then my husband whispered those three little words that keep our 20-year marriage alive: Let’s go road trip.
- Stop at the Visitor Center first. You can buy your pass here and skip the lines at the entrance.
- Make sure you have a full tank of gas. The Park is huge and although there are sporadic outhouses, there aren’t any gas stations within the Park itself. Many people don’t realize that Joshua Tree National Park is about the same size as Rhode Island.
- It’s in a desert, so obviously it’s hot (expect temperatures in the 100’sF). Bring lots of water, especially if you are hiking.
- Joshua Trees grow in elevations of 2,00o to 6,000 feet. There are many areas you can pull off and park to the open areas where they grow wild for acres. If you plan to go off-roading in the designated areas, the roads are clearly marked “off-road vehicles only” and for good reason.
What I love about the park itself is the variety of landscapes. The miles and miles of Joshua Tree landscapes that are so abundant that it reminds me of dandelions growing wild in the fields back in the midwest. Then the rock formations that just appear out of nowhere, huge boulders that looked like they were just poured out of a sieve in the sky. We hiked the half-mile trail to Barker Dam where water suddenly appeared in the desert, like an oasis. The offroad trails that twist and turn through the giant brown hills. The Cholla Cacti Gardens that look like they are soft and fuzzy, but each spike is incredibly sharp and painful. Finally, the foothills rising up against the sky like sleeping giants.
Enjoy a tour through the park through the gallery below, but nothing can compare to exploring it in person.