Each year, we try to do something completely new on our trip to California. There are a number of National Park areas in the state, but none are particularly close to Central Coast. However, one of them has been on my ‘must see’ list for years, and this year (conveniently in the 100th anniversary year of the National Parks), we finally made it: Joshua Tree National Park.
Joshua Tree is a desert park about two hours inland from Los Angeles. It’s been on my radar for years, but I got really determined to visit it after it was featured in the National Parks Magazine. And on a really, really warm day in April, we took the 5 hour drive down from SLO County and explored the park. We took so many photos; what follows is a photo blog of our day in the park.
First things first: I highly recommend playing the best U2 album ever, The Joshua Tree as you approach the park. It makes it so much more exciting. Even the drive into the park is impressive as you pass these massive rocks.
We started at the south entrance, and the first place we stopped was the Cholla Cactus Garden.
It was VERY hot in the park, but the sun was so harsh I had to wear long sleeves so I didn’t burn. There was a nice breeze though, thank goodness.
Tarantulas make their homes in Joshua Tree National Park, although they are very shy and don’t often show themselves to human visitors. Husband informed me that I was not permitted to pat any tarantulas that we saw in the park, but he compromised by bringing my little stuffed spider with us. Spider loved the Cholla Cactus Garden.
Spider also did a bit of rock climbing.
(So did I.)
Basically, with only a few hours in the park, we drove around to every cool rock formation we could find for photos.
Starting from the southern entrance, it does take a bit before you find the first Joshua Tree. But once we saw it, I pulled the car over for a photo!
No matter how much time you have in the park, you must visit the famous Skull Rock. This was formed over many years by the gradual erosion from rain drops!
We hauled our tripod around with us so we could get photos with all the rock formations.
Spider also enjoyed Skull Rock.
There is a nature trail you can hike at Skull Rock, as well as some other rocks you can climb.
More and more Joshua trees appeared as we made our way north through the park.
(Spider was so excited to finally see them!)
The final place we visited in the park was Key’s Point. From here, you can see the Coachella Valley, the San Andreas Fault, and the date capital of the world, Indio, California.
You cannot beat this view!!
Spider was at Coachella way before any of your hipsters.
We saw this crazy looking Joshua tree as we were exiting the park, so we decided to use it as the backdrop for our Prom Under the Joshua Tree.
And then, sadly, it was time for our navigator to consult the map and get us on the road back to the coast.
A few hours is just barely enough time to get a taste of Joshua Tree National Park. Next time (and oh yes, there will be a next time), we’re going to make a 2-day stretch out of it. In the evenings, Joshua Tree hosts star parties which have INCREDIBLE views of the Milky Way. There are also a number of different hikes that we didn’t have time to try. But I am so happy to have finally gotten to visit this amazing National Park. Can’t wait for our next visit (and neither can Spider).