Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua Trees
When we were planning our trip to California, I was determined to fit in a visit to a National Park when I was there. When I was reading reviews, Joshua Tree very rarely came up, or at least if it did it was pretty far down the list. However, all of the blockbuster parks were further from our base of LA than we wanted to drive we decided to take a chance on Joshua Tree. I'm really pleased we did as our day inside the park was easily my favourite day of the holiday.
Hidden Valley trail
We started our day in the park office close to our Air BnB apartment to pay our park fee and get some advice on what to do during the day and then we were off into the park!

Our first stop was the Barker Dam trail. As with all the walk during the day it was an easy 30 min - 1 hr loop from the car park which head out to a small, and now empty, dam that was built by cattle ranches in first half of the last century. On the way to the dam we saw some ancient rock paintings which, if I remember correctly, a TV crew had painted over to make them stand our more for their filming!
Inside the Hidden Valley
It was then a short drive to the Hidden Valley a one mile loop through large boulders in, surprisingly enough, a hidden valley. There were a number of rock climbers inside the valley who were looking for challenges to climb.
Hidden Valley rock formations
After we'd come out of the valley we sat at some of the nearby picnic benches to eat our lunch and soak in the amazing view below of hundreds of Joshua Trees as far as the eye could see.
Joshua Trees as far as the eye can see
After lunch we drove up to the Keys View lookout, which had hazy views down to the Mexican border which you can apparently see when the smog isn't too bad.
Skull Rock
We then drove onto Skull Rock which really does look like a skull, as you can see for yourself from the photo above.

We then drove across to the Cholla cactus garden. I was pretty nervous walking along the paths and in between the cacti as there were signs telling you that the needles were really difficult to remove if you managed to prick yourself. Not somewhere that you'd want to lose your footing....
Cholla Cactus Garden Trail
The cholla cactus garden also marked the point where the national park transitioned from the Mojave dessert where we had spent most of the day to the Sonoran dessert below us. There were huge and vastly different vistas.
Our trusty hire car
Our final stop of the day, as the shadows were lengthening, was the White Tank camping ground for a short walk round one of the trails and a visit to the rock arch below.
The arch at White Tank

And with that our Californian holiday came to and end. It has only taken me fifteen months to get the final blog of our holiday posted!

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