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Traversing through Joshua Tree National Park

USA | Thursday, 2 January 2014 | Views [1020]

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Today I bring you a mini day-trip to California’s Joshua Tree National Park situated in the Mojave desert near Twentynine Palms.

First off, as this is the high desert it will be a bit cooler than what you might expect – even in late December when I went. I’d recommend at least a light jacket, hat, sunscreen, and lots of water depending on what it is you want to do. That day I was only looking to accomplish a bit of walking around and some photos but you can always head over for some great rock climbing, hiking, or even camping.

There are two main entrance stations once you’re in the general vicinity: Twentynine Palms (North Entrance) or the Joshua Tree (West) entrance. I would not recommend the further south Cottonwood entrance to start off as it is quite far away from the interesting attractions. Also, as this is a National Park you will have to pay a fee to get in. I think it was maybe $10 or $15 for the whole car?

Starting off we missed the Twentynine Palms entrance so we drove up through the West entrance. Already the Joshua trees were their full array and I spent a lot of the initial drive glancing around at these strange desert trees. And then huge brown rock formations came into view, perfect for climbing. As I had no time, no gear, and no experience in the art of rock climbing I left that to those who had all three and were already well on their way towards climbing up some of the hulking behemoths.

That is the majority of what you will find at the upper end of Joshua Tree: the trees themselves and huge rock formations. If you decide, as we did, to continue on down into the bowels of the park there are two other attractions that might suit your fancy: the cholla and ocotillo gardens. Be fair warned that they are a decent drive away from the entrances and by the time you make it that far down the Joshua trees are starting to become scarce. If you have a lot of time a jaunt down to the yellowy-gold cholla cactus and the spindly thorn-riddled ocotillo might be interesting but otherwise I can’t say I was horribly impressed. (But then again, I’ve spent a lot of time in deserts so if you grew up in a completely different landscape than it can be impressive, indeed.)

Driving on down further there are just lots of dry, brown dirt valleys and dry, brown mountains in the distance for many miles. A mini visitor center will be your last stop and immediately after that is the Cottonwood entrance/exit which is right outside of the I-10 freeway to get home.

So there you have it. Happy hiking and don’t forget your water!


P.S. If you didn't bring lunch and want to nab something outside of the park, I'd recommend Pappy & Harriet's in Pioneertown. It's maybe a 15 minute drive outside of Twentynine Palms and definitely off the beaten track but they serve great BBQ (and even have some decent vegetarian options). It was definitely family-friendly at lunch and I would guess turns into more of a biker bar in the evenings (I could be wrong. I was only there in the daytime).

Pappy & Harriet's

53688 Pioneertown Rd
Pioneertown, CA 92268
(760) 365-5956

Tags: california, desert, hiking, joshua tree, national park


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