Joshua Tree National Park is about a two hour drive from where we are staying in SoCal so we left early in the morning one January weekend day. We decided to hike in the less busy area first and than drive around the more frequentiant area afterwards.
This national park is found within a small neighborhood in the desert and is also an area where gold mining happened. The story behind Joshua Tree is really cool. A naturalist named Minerva Hoyt become fond of desert plants, especially cactus and Joshua Trees, due to her interest in gardening. She become concerned about the removal of desert plants to the gardens of Los Angeles so she began displaying desert plants across the country to education others. Due to her effort, Joshua Tree National Park was created in 1936.
Joshua Trees were seen sparsely until we reached the park and it wasn’t until we were in the parking lot that we realized how cool this park really was. The plants are so unique and the park is surrounded by large boulders and hills and gold mining ruins. Joshua Trees look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book: all twisty and curvy with sharp needles and trunk. We both touched one and it proved to be quite prickly. During our hike we were surrounded by Joshua Trees and they looked brilliant against the bright blue sky. The hike was three miles up on a sand like trail and ended at a summit were we saw a valley view of Mojave Desert and many prominent mountain peaks.
After the hike, we drove to the west entrance of the park, which was about a 30 minute drive. Ah, the joys of being at a national park-everything looks close until you start driving. 😉 We drove around and noticed that this side of the park was much busier and we saw a bunch of rock climbing and rappelling touring vans. We stopped at many of the popular pull offs and enjoyed the views of the twisted Joshua Trees, the desert landscape, and jagged rock formations, which were created by strong winds and the occasional burst of rain. This part was definitely worth going to as well.
We stayed till sunset, watching the sun settle behind the mountains on a cloudless night. Joshua Tree is known as a dark sky park, meaning it has one of the darkest skies in Southern California and many come to view the Milky Way. One time we will have to camp there to fully experience this view but when we visited the moon was too bright to have this experience.
We have more stories to tell about our adventures in SoCal so stay tuned! Happy Trails!