Saturday, January 7, 2012

Joshua Tree National Park - Things to Do

Located about two hours east of LA, Joshua Tree National Park is a popular climbing, bouldering, hiking, and camping destination.  I visited this park in January of 2013 and had a great time scrambling over fascinating wind-carved rock formations and hiking through sections of the two distinct deserts that meet in this park, the Mojave and Colorado.  The northwest part of the park seems moister and is home to the eponymous Joshua Trees that would would not be out of place in a Dr. Seuss book.  The southeastern part of the park is at a lower elevation and has lots of creosote plants, tall ocotillos, and cholla cacti.  The small unincorporated town of Joshua Tree at the north entrance to the park has lots of great restaurants and cafes.

On my visit, we camped at Ryan Campground, which has an interesting rock formation in the center.  After quickly setting up our tents right at dusk, we cooked our  backpacker dinners (my friend's MSR Microrocket Stove worked much better than my Brunton) and went to bed early, having forgotten to bring firewood.  On our first night, it snowed for several hours, which I'm told is a rare event in the park.

The next day was cool and very windy, but we enjoyed exploring the Cholla Cactus Garden, Cottonwood Spring area, Barker Dam, and Arch Rock (photos below).  That night, after eating at the Joshua Tree Saloon Grill and Bar and purchasing firewood at Coyote Corner, we had a nice fire back at the campsite.

On our last day in the park, we ate bars and trail mix for breakfast and hiked the Willow Hole Trail into the Wonderland of Rocks.  We wrapped  up our visit by exploring the trail and rock formations around Skull Rock.

If you are interested in more detailed information, I've written descriptions of the following hikes in the park:
Willow Hole Trail
Barker Dam
Mastodon Mountain/Cottonwood Spring (Coming Soon)

The park has numerous trails and most are not shown on the park provided brochures.  If you want to know all your options, I recommend visiting the visitor center to look at a large map or buying a large detailed topo map of the park.

Joshua Tree National Park California Ryan Campground
Ryan Campground

Joshua Tree National Park California Mastodon Peak Cottonwood Springs
Near Mastodon Peak and Cottonwood Springs

Joshua Tree National Park California Mastodon Peak Keys
Keys View

Joshua Tree National Park California Rocks

Joshua Tree National Park California Rocks Willow Hole Trail Hike
Joshua Trees on Willow Hole Trail

Joshua Tree National Park California Rocks Skull
Skull Rock

The Arch

View Joshua Tree in a larger map

California Readers: Interested in getting paid to unplug your laptop or turn off a light for an hour? $20 just for joining OhmConnect, learn more at:

No comments:

Post a Comment