Our Location: Joshua Tree National Park BLM, West entrance, California
A lazy morning for me, I didn’t get out of bed until just before 7 am, I was outside in time to catch 3 sunrise pictures. I was tired last night and slept very well. It was cool this morning but not as cool as it has recently been, I managed with just my fleece sweater this morning and not my heavy jacket. We’re at between 1700 - 1900 feet above sea level. So it’s a bit cooler due to elevation.
|Sunrise this morning...|
Riley and I enjoyed our morning drinks, discussing our plans and getting ready to head out. Today is a tour day and we are planning to tour Joshua Tree National Park and head over to Twentynine Palms on the other side of the park, which is about 40 miles away. We once again had all things necessary just in case we wanted to hike a trail or two.
|Skid marks in the sky, it was black, I've never seen that before...|
We were in the Dogsled by shortly after 9 am, but returned about 9:05 am because we’d forgotten the camera. Now I ask you how is that possible, we’re going sight seeing? Oh well, it happens to the best of us. Back on the road we enjoyed the short drive to the Ranger station at the first campground, Cottonwood Springs. We slipped inside as the Rangers are now back to work, we paid our fee, $25 for 5 days use of the park, grabbed some literature, asked a few questions finding out that it is a $5 fee to use the dump station in the park.
|The sun is up.....|
Back on the road we headed northerly and enjoyed the sights of the park. Various rock types all side by side, looking out of place but being naturally there. It’s odd to see. Flat split rocks, huge boulders, solid rock faces, gravelly looking mountains, and so on. Amazing sights with various exhibit areas that are placards giving information about what you’re seeing, the plant and animal life, and some history. The park road is single lane traffic each way with pull offs every so often, some paved, some not, also various trails and sights along the way are marked and parking lots are provided.
|The road winding along the valley floor.....|
From home we had climbed upwards for a while only to fall down again into the valley floor. It’s vast and gently sloped in many areas, but not what I would consider to be flat, always a gentle slope as you can see in the distance when you look ahead. The road winds across the valley floor in a meandering serpentine thread going through numerous named washes such as Smoke Tree Wash, Porcupine Wash, etc. The vegetation on the valley floor is pretty consistent and nothing overly large grows there although some of the Smoke Trees would be considered pretty large bushes. Small Joshua trees are evident here and there, various forms of low growing bushes, such as sage, mesquite, etc dot the views. A few Teddy Bear Cactus are also evident but not overly abundant.
|A Joshua Tree....oddest things aren't they?|
From the valley floor you once again begin to climb and the strangest thing occurs. Quite literally you drive into an area that is COVERED with Teddy Bear Cactus, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds, they are on both sides of the parkway, tall, short, medium heights with the light green fuzzy looking tops and the long brown stalks below. There is a parking lot with at least 18 spots and it was almost full both times we passed by. On our way home we stopped in to have a look. There is a 1/4 mile loop that allows you to walk through some of these cacti, but warns of bees in the area , with a first aid kit chained to the fence I’m certain it contains a few syringes full of medical marvel for bee stings in case of an allergic reaction. The funny thing is that as soon as you leave the Teddy Bear Cactus Garden and go around a huge rock formation, you no longer see ANY for a while, then slowly you see one or two off in the distance but nothing out of the ordinary. It is simply stunning to see this amazing carpet of Teddy Bear Cactus for such a short distance.
|I just love these boulders. Immature Joshua Trees in the right front, they look like Yucca's.|
From the Cactus Garden you continue to climb again and this time the elevation reaches just over 4400 feet above sea level. Here the world changes. A few camp grounds dot the upper reaches as well as numerous types of huge rocks, with names like Jumbo Rocks, Skull Rock, White Tank Rock, Twin Tanks all having hiking trails or campgrounds with areas for parking. Here also you begin to see mature Joshua Trees, they are the strangest trees and literally take over the vegetation scene and can be seen every where. The road continues to wind around showing off mountains, behind more mountains, behind more mountains. The view is awesome.
|Snow capped mountains in the background and Joshua Trees in the foreground.|
We opted to check out Hidden Valley, where legend seems to loom that the valley was used for grazing rustled cattle until the heat died down. The valley is surrounded by huge rocks, boulders, split rock walls, with a trail that winds, twists and turns in a circle with the valley as part of the trail. It’s very busy and the trails aren’t wide in some places so waiting for others to move along the trail is often necessary. The loop is a mile long and we managed it with little difficulty. We did take our sticks but Riley used her only a couple of times while I didn’t use mine at all. Back at the Dogsled we headed off to Twentynine Palms.
|Look at all of those Joshua Trees|
The roadway starts to fall long before you reach the north gate Ranger Station on Utah Trail. You can see the town of Twentynine Palms for a vey long way spreading out in the valley below you. When we reached Twentynine Palms the elevation was reading 1850 feet at one point. So you know it’s a long way down from the top.
|Here they line the roadway in the park...|
We found a Popa John’s pizza which we had for lunch. We also wanted to find a mailbox but no matter where we looked could not find a post office nor a mail box, but we did find a mail carrier and the nice lady took our post cards for us. From there we started back home. The GPS was not our friend today, she wanted us to go AROUND the park instead of through the park. She sent us off to the west. I told Riley we were going the wrong way and finally turned around and found the way myself. I’m not sure what’s up with that but it’s truly annoying.
|It was really windy here as you can see by my hair but you can see we are having a great time.|
We were back to the Igloo by 2:30 pm and basically just relaxed from then. I even managed a little nap on the couch around 5 pm. I was just tuckered right out. The temps in the truck I noticed at one point was reading 63F/17 C but the wind made it much colder than that. The wind is always a factor here as it seems to blow pretty much every day. Today one needed a heavy sweater or jacket to be outside. Tonight the wind is still blowing quite strongly.
Riley made herself some dinner as I wasn’t hungry but it smelled wonderful. I will admit I didn’t get the sunset tonight as I was napping but the sky afterward looked pretty special with lots of reds in it. Sorry I missed it but well, it couldn’t be helped. Napping was more important.
|We climbed along this trail to reach Hidden Valley|
So there you have it, our day in the park. We managed to hike about a mile and a quarter today which was more than enough. We enjoyed the sights and sounds of the park, along with the immersion into Twentynine Palms. A few of the trails we passed have beckoned me to come for a closer look and at some point I may just do that, or perhaps next year when we’re back in the area we’ll have a go at them then. One never knows.
|Entering or leaving the trail for Hidden Valley. This view is overlooking the parking lot in the front of the picture.|
Thanks for stopping by, I hope you have enjoyed your visit. Please feel free to leave a comment, I look forward to reading them and hearing your thoughts.
|The Cactus Garden, see how they line both sides of the road way?|
Until next time…. take care, be safe,
|Look at all those cacti, this is just a very few....|
|A bit closer up, see them all? Just a few in this picture too.|
|The Cacti are starting to bloom....|