Going To Joshua Tree National Park
Visiting Joshua Tree National Park in the late afternoon is perfect for Southern Californians who want to capture photography of the shadows cast by the boulders and trees. It is also the ideal time to capture sunset photography, and avoid the heat that permeates this region during the summer and early fall. I am unique because I actually enjoy the arid climate, but visiting Joshua Tree during the warmer months is not for everyone. Another perk for Southern Californians is that this park is within driving distance of many major cities, and can be a day trip. Although, camping at Joshua Tree is definitely a must for people who want to spend more time admiring the scenery.
The Joshua tree obtains its name from the Mormons who traveled through the Mojave Desert, and thought these trees looked as if they were holding their arms up to the heavens, like Joshua did in the Old Testament. I did not go the Joshua Tree on a spiritual quest, but there is something otherworldly about being out in the vast expanses of desert looking at these trees, and admiring large boulders. It feels refreshing to be part of the land, and not just gawking at buildings and overly landscaped lawns. However, I grew up in the mountains and often camped in the desert, so I have to get away to places like Joshua Tree to feel a bit more like myself. Too much urban jungle can be stifling for a person who needs hikes and open vistas.
It surprises me how many people who live in Southern California say they have never visited Joshua Tree, or even Death Valley. Both of these parks are within driving distance, but I guess these places appeal to the more adventurous types who enjoy hiking and camping. However, Joshua Tree is much more tourist friendly than it was years ago. There are many shopping amenities close by, and signs to guide you wherever you want to hike. So if you are looking to get away from "the city", then I highly recommend a trip to Joshua Tree. I only spent a couple of hours there during my last visti, but some people drive through the whole park, and camp for a few days. The desert heat does not bother me, but going to Joshua Tree in winter and early spring might be preferable for those who are adverse to arid climates.
How Do I Get To Joshua Tree?
Use the map above for driving directions to Joshua Tree National Park. A scenic route to get to Joshua Tree is the drive up to the San Bernardino and through Big Bear, and then down the backside of the mountain to Lucern Valley. From Lucern Valley take Highway 247 towards Twentynine Palms, which is also known as Old Woman Springs Road. Apparently the road obtained its name from Old Woman Springs Ranch, which was named after the many Native American women that the first white settlers spotted there. The videos below show what this drive to Joshua Tree looks via the Big Bear Lake and Lucern Valley.
The Scenic Route: Driving Through Big Bear To Joshua Tree
Highway 247 eventually merges into Highway 62, which continues on into Twentynine Palms. However, visitors to Joshua Tree National Park only have to travel a short distance through the town of Yucca Valley before reaching the Joshua Tree Visitor Center. The part of the park where I took pictures was Hidden Valley.
The Road Leading Up To Joshua Tree
Here is a video showing the road that leads up to the park itself.
The road leading up to Joshua Tree National Park was quite exciting because we started rising in elevation, and I spotted more boulders and Joshua trees along the sides of the road. Finally, we reached Hidden Valley and it was time for a late afternoon walk.
Arriving At Joshua National Park
Nature and civilization intersect where this parking lot and sidewalk are near the rock formation.
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Things To Pack:
A Digital Camera
A Cell Phone
Small First-Aid Kit
An Adventurous Spirit
There are many pictures of the beautiful Joshua trees, boulders, and cacti to share, but you can always watch the video below if you just want to see a small snippet.
The boulders at Joshua tree fascinate me the same way boulders do up in the San Bernardino Mountains. These monzogranite rocks were formed over millions of years, and are an endearing testimony to how long nature has been around. Joshua Tree is a truly magical place, and I love that living in Southern California means there are so many awe inspiring locales within driving distance. I would love to go to Tahiti, but since I cannot afford to do that, I like to enjoy things that are nearby: like Joshua Tree National Park.
One of the more entertain rock formations at Joshua Tree National Park is one called Zombie Woof Rock. Here are a few pictures of this interesting boulder formation, which I suppose looks a bit like a zombie.
Around sunset it was time to leave Zombie Woof Rock and head back to the parking lot. I took a few pictures along the way.
The Sunset Drive Out of Joshua Tree
The sunset drive out of Joshua Tree National Park was the penultimate way top off the afternoon.
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