A few words from Sue . . .
JOSHUA. TREE. NATIONAL. PARK.
HOW did I not make plans to visit you sooner?
HOW OFTEN can I manage to plan a long weekend to escape and see you again?
Mark and I took the “Silver Bullet” (our teardrop trailer) to Joshua Tree National Park in Twentynine Palms, California, last weekend and fell in love (with Joshua Tree, that is!). What an amazing place! I’ve been to the Grand Canyon and recently went to Sedona, Arizona, so I know what amazing looks like, and Joshua Tree definitely had that same “WOW!” factor. (I’ll write a post on Sedona soon.)
If you want to feel like a kid again, head to Joshua Tree. You will be climbing and scrambling rocks with ambition and without thought, just like you did when you were twelve years old. It makes no difference how old you are or what shape you are in, you will climb! Trust me.
We snagged a group site where we joined our local Boy Scout troop for a 3-day camping weekend. It was only a 2-1/2 hour drive east from Los Angeles (location of Joshua Tree shown here). The drive was easy. The group campsite for the 40 of us (10 or so adults; 30 or so kids) was enormous. We stayed at one of around 9 campgrounds in the area (Joshua Tree campgrounds listed here); ours was called Indian Cove. There was a huge expanse between the ‘adult side’ and the ‘kid side’–an imaginary line set when camping with the boy scouts which encourages the boys to camp autonomously, as do the adults. The kids set up camp at least 80 feet away from the adults.
As cavernous as the group campsite was, there were a few more in the area that offered the same expansive privacy. The first day we were there, we were already having a blast without leaving the campsite. We were surrounded by a mini-mountain range of huge boulders that reminded me of the town of Bedrock in the Flintstones cartoons. Curiosity creeps into your brain and the call to go rock scrambling starts ringing like Pavlov’s bell.
We spent the second day in Joshua Tree National Park proper, where we took a great hike on Split Rock Loop Trail. It was a memorable 2-mile hike that took twice as long as anticipated because we couldn’t keep from stopping and taking photos every 10 feet or so. The later it got in the day, the more interesting the patterns of shadow and sunlight.
We enjoyed 70-degree-Fahrenheit temperatures during the day and 35 to 45 degrees at night. The night sky was brilliantly bedazzled with stars, and at dusk and dawn, the sun and moon played at opposite ends of our mini-mountain range, vying for our attention–a real mind blower.
Water had to be carried in, but was available at the Indian Cove Ranger Station. It is desert-like at Joshua Tree, so plan your trip wisely; there are no lakes, streams or showers in the bathrooms. This would be a great time to invest in a solar shower bag (and curtain) if you haven’t done so to date. The bathroom facilities are clean, but are outhouse-style (no flush toilets or sinks). There are a ton of official rock climbing areas so bring your gear if that’s your thing. There’s mountain biking a-plenty and scores of other activities possible. Check the campground link above for a listing of possible activities.
To sum up, we really hated to leave Joshua Tree. But, we’ll be back, if, for nothing else, to take some more photos of our teardrop trailer on the stunning backdrop of Joshua Tree National Park!
Happy trails to you,