I had the pleasure of spending some time recently in Joshua Tree National Park. This park is so unique and gorgeous in so many ways. Located in Southern California, this rather large park lures in millions of visitors annually. There are tons and tons of Joshua trees scattered throughout. In the picture below, I am standing next to the oldest Joshua tree in the park! (And by far the biggest Joshua tree I've seen yet!)
Did you know Joshua Tree National Park is located where the high Mojave Desert meets the low Colorado Desert? Both deserts look completely different. This place is magical during the day, but even more special at night for star-gazing. We got this amazing shot the first night! You can see sooo many stars, and even the milky way with the naked eye.
Joshua trees are most commonly seen in the Mohave Desert, but can be found throughout the Southwest region of the US. The first time I saw a Joshua tree what when I went to the Grand Canyon as a kid. I remember how excited my mom was about the Joshua trees. As an adult, I realize just how special this experience really was. Who would have guessed a decade later I would be back roaming through hundreds of them in my Wrangler?
In the daytime if you catch the light just right you can see the whole desert come to life. There are so many different things to see and do in Joshua Tree. You can rockclimb, hike or even drive around and catch all the sites. There are places to camp and a ton of spots to explore. The park is almost 800,000 acres big, so you can always find something new to see.
One of my favorite places in Joshua Tree was the Cholla Cactus Garden. When the sun rises and sets, the cholla cacti light up and look like they glow. It took a few sunsets there to capture the right lightening....thanks a lot clouds!!
When you get to the Cholla Cactus Garden, watch where you step! These spiky guys are everywhere and they will seriously latch on! Parts of the cacti fall off, but are still real healthy and mean, so be careful as you move around the garden. One girl bumped into a cholla and her whole butt got stuck on the cactus! One nabbed my left hand, then got stuck on my right hand trying to get it off, and then I stepped on another one in the process 😩 It happens to the best of us! Needless to say, there's some fantastic people-watching to be had here!
Another place that I thought was so beyond cool is an area in the park called Skull Rock, you can see how the name stuck. Skull Rock is a massive boulder that is literally shaped like a skull. But if you go behind it, you can walk through a smooth rock hallway and climb over all kinds of different crazy rock formations. You can easily spend a whole day here in itself! This was a highlight of the trip for sure.
There are a ton of different hiking routes that you can take all over the park, ranging from easy too strenuous. You can find a full detailed list in the guide/map you receive from the ranger when you enter the park. You can find hikes that will take you anywhere from 10 minutes to 6 hours, so whatever you’re looking to do you can hike.
Joshua Tree National Park has multiple entrances, but I highly suggest stopping in at one of the visitor centers on your way in. The staff there are really helpful and you can learn a ton about the history, nature, and creatures that call the desert home. Also, if you're new to the desert life, it's a good idea to stop in and get some safety tips. There's not much cell service in the park and no gas at all, so plan ahead! You can find water at some of the campsites though.
There is also an Ocotillo Patch that is really cool to check out, just don't get too close! Ocotillos have very long, sharp spikes all over them. Despite their sharp appearance, Ocotillos are plants, not cacti. What's crazier is that they sprout green leaves on the stems and will produce bright red flowers at the top when it rains! You can watch them come to life after a storm, it's pretty cool to see. They can live up 60-100 years old and grow up to 20 feet tall.
Joshua Tree National Park is great for people of all ages and interests. If you're looking for a fun weekend getaway or a great family vacation, you can't go wrong here. Check out more pictures from Joshua Tree below:
Thanks for reading! Have questions? Want recommendations? Hit me up!