The other day I went to Joshua Tree National Park. For those of you who don’t know, this is an amazing national park about a 1 hour drive from Palm Springs. The park is famous for its joshua trees, as well as its incredible rock formations. The rock formations almost appear to be piles of stacked rocks, which have led many people to wonder how they came to be stacked! In actuality, the rock formations are the product of volcanic eruptions thousands of years ago. Overtime, parts of the formations wore away making it appear that the formations are a combination of many smaller rocks. Pretty incredible, huh?
The weather at the park was great! In the summer, the temperatures can be so high that it’s unpleasant to step outside your air-conditioned vehicle! On the other hand, during the winter months, the weather is much more moderate making it much more pleasant to get out of your car and experience the park the way it was meant to be experienced. Luckily, the weather was very moderate the day that I went.
If you visit the park during the winter months, make sure to prepare yourself for weather that will be a little bit colder than what you experience in Palm Springs. Due to the location of the park, the weather tends to be a few degrees lower, and becomes dramatically colder at night. Once the sun sets, temperatures can fall below zero. In fact, during one of my hikes through the park a few months ago, I saw plenty of snow in places where the sun was unlikely to shine directly during the day. That’s pretty good evidence of how cold it can get during the night!
Also make sure you stay well hydrated throughout your stay in the park. It can be tempting to think that you don’t need much water, but the sunshine and dry conditions will keep you parched unless you’re taking swigs of water every now and then. I took my trusty copper bottle (which I’ve become obsessed with – see my blog post on the subject of alkaline water) to the park and carried it in my hand whenever I was outside so that I had easy access. There aren’t many freshwater sources in the park, so consider bringing a few large bottles of water with you to the park so that you can refill your handheld bottle every now and then.
An interesting feature of the park is the way it’s laid out. Unlike other parks with a central parking lot, Joshua tree park has a variety of different parking lots connected by miles and miles of roads. As a result, you need to park your car for an hour or two, take advantage of the hiking and sites in the area, and then load back in the car and go to your next destination. Rinse and repeat. I actually very much enjoyed this, as the time in the car provides an opportunity to rest your legs, drink some more water, and have a little snack.
That also aren’t any restaurants or stores in Joshua tree park, so make sure you stop at a supermarket before you go to the park and load up on snacks that will keep you well energized throughout the day. There’s so much to do in the park, and so little time, so it’s a good idea to buy some smaller snacks that you can stuff in your pockets and have on the go. Granola bars and peeled eggs are a great idea, and certainly a healthy option to keep you energized.
If you visit the park make sure to go to Keys’ viewpoint, which offers incredible views of the surrounding area, as well as the San Andreas Fault! Here is a great picture of the view on a clear day. Apparently the view is far less clear on a hot day, mostly as a result of air pollution. So we were very lucky to get such a clear shot this time!
I’m not much of a driver, and prefer to get around by way of bicycle or public transit. Unfortunately, however, Joshua tree park is not a place that is easily accessible by any method other than car. In particular, there is no public transit access, and no convenient road for biking. As a result, your best option is to carpool or rent a car. Depending on the time of year, you may be able to get a fairly good rate for your car. Make sure to get the economy size, which will be more cost-effective, and also more likely to keep you in mother nature’s good books!
Another great place to visit is the dam. Interestingly, Joshua tree park used to be home to many more springs and streams them it is now. Today, pretty much the only source of water remaining is a place called breaker dam, which is a largely man-made reservoir which gathers rainwater. As a result, the spot attracts plenty of wildlife, including some lovely birds. The area is also very peaceful, and the water and rock formations create some incredible reflections.
If you are a fan of rock climbing or bouldering, then Joshua tree park is definitely for you. While we were in the park, we saw plenty of people scaling huge rock formations. Rock climbing has always fascinated me, but unfortunately I suffer from an ailment that makes it very difficult for me to take it on: I’m afraid of heights! Oh well, can’t win them all!
All in all, Joshua tree park is an incredible place, and, if it isn’t already, ought to be named one of the wonders of the world. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience there and I’m sure you will too! Until next time!