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April 3: Joshua Tree National Park

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Ann and I enjoying a perfect day at Joshua Tree National Park.

Our goal today was to make a quick trip to Joshua Tree National Park and then hit a motel in Palm Desert early, so we could rest and wash some clothes.


However our quick trip to the park turned into a four hour stay, between a long hike and the long drive through the park. Part of the delay was my fault, as I took a bunch of photos:


Joshua has two entrances on the north side and one on the south side. We planned entered via the northwest entrance out of the city of Joshua Tree. There’s a good visitors center at that location, so I’d recommend starting there. The visitor’s center also isn’t far from this Willys Truck that his hawking firewood.


A truck in Joshua Tree City outside of the National Park.


Our biggest surprise of the day was the entrance line at the ranger station. It was the longest wait at a ranger station I’ve ever had. Who would thought that at noon on a Thursday?


From the ranger station the park road climbs quickly through fields and hills of rocks. Lots of rocks. The road finally plateaus into fields of Joshua Trees that are lined with hills of rocks. We didn’t see any Joshua trees growing on the hills, only on the flat lands. The grew pretty far apart as you can see in the photo below.


Example of the Joshua Tree forest (and a gratuitous Jeep photo).

There are lots of places to pull off and take photos. The park service also maintains a number of hiking trails. We chose to do the Barker Dam hike, which winds through mounds of rocks to a local dam built to provide water to early ranchers.


Barker Dam hike


This was part of the area that was dammed.

One of those ranches was owned by Bill and Frances Keys. At some point they used a jeep on it. Apparently, they left it there, because the jeep can still be seen as part of the ranch homestead. However, what I didn’t know, was that the homestead is part of a guided park service tour, which only operates three days a week. So, I missed out on the jeep :-(. Here’s a photo of what I wanted to see.


From Wikipedia (

Therefore, if you want to see this CJ-2A during a visit to the park CALL AHEAD and reserve (760-367-5522).

Following our dam hike, we drove out of the park using the southern entrance. This drive took a long time. And, there wasn’t much to look at other than a remote desert landscape. Neat after the first mile, less so after the 25th mile. Therefore, I think that to get the most out of the park, I’d recommend going in the northwest entrance and leaving via the northeast entrance (or vice-a-versa). You won’t miss much by doing that.

One more photo . . . on our way into Palm Desert, we pulled right up to a Tour Jeep. Ann went right to work snapping photos. Here’s the best one:


Tonight we are in Palm Desert. Tomorrow night we don’t have reservations, so we have no idea where we will end up.


One comment on “April 3: Joshua Tree National Park

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