The desert has turned out to be so much more than I originally thought. Vast sand dunes with tumble weeds cartwheeling across while buzzards circle overhead are more for the movies than real life. Thanks to the plentiful rainfall in the earlier portion of the year, the deserts and nearby mountains have been transformed into fields of wild flowers. Sunshine yellows and amethyst purples encompass the southern entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. If you are slightly high maintenance, or a bit of a hipster, I suggest the southern entrance, you can hit up a Whole Foods and Starbucks before you lose service in the abyss. Then get ready to say, “wow” for a couple miles as you drive up Cottonwood Springs and see this…
I couldn’t quite decide: vibrant color or subtle black and white? why not both?
Fortunately, there was a surplus of clouds quickly moving along the horizon to make the perfect backdrop that day. Several miles past the first entrance there is a small turnoff that offers a short walk. You can either have a view like this (above) or be a goof like this (below).
I’ll be honest, this park is not my favorite but it does have a lot to offer. If you are into climbing or bouldering this is an amazing place to practice that. Some rock faces are straight vertical with excellent texture for gripping. Other parts of the park have some amazing trails highlighting some of the parks more prominent geological features and showcasing the diversity of flora and fauna if you look close enough… and ask Doug about that extremely large man eating bunny. Protect yo kids folks!!
Also, pro tip, do not dress like Tom in dad jeans. I cannot have my pictures associated with that AND it’s the desert, who wears jeans hiking!? If your friend does this peer pressure them until they change into more appropriate attire. Thank you Kendall for the “dad” song.
Kendall even coordinated her pants with the flowers! How much more professional can you get? (totally unplanned, this just happened) If you do Maze Loop Trail, you’ll see that the description includes a 5 miles round trip, rock formations, slot canyons and lots of sand. Only half of this is correct, yes there is sand (it’s the desert after all) and yes there are rock formations. The trail itself is more of a 7.6 mile loop which is just so much longer when you’re carrying around 30lbs of camera gear, water and PB&J’s that could feed a Mongolian horde.
After the hike, we felt we deserved much more than a preheated PB&J so we made our way out of the park to the Joshua tree Saloon. I don’t think this place has ever existed without a wait, but it’s worth it. Play some pool, have some drinks and talk to some other tourists in town for the weekend. Then enjoy a salad the size of a small dog, (or whatever, have a burger).
We found an amazing spot to watch the sun go down toward the Northern entrance.
Great way to end the day… then have me wake you up at 3 am to say, “guys! let’s go take pics!”
Heads up, don’t wait til the last minute to try to book a campground here. There are 4 of them and they are consistently full weeks in advance, so as soon as you have a date, book the campground. Why a campsite vs a hotel or airBnB? Because this is literally less than 5 feet from your tent.
After pictures of the galactic center we have enough time to go find the next spot for sunrise. These are the moments you sit in silence and simply enjoy. The sun slowly peaking over the hills turning dusty pinks to soft orange to vivid yellows. The backdrop makes for the most romantic photos.
We all have to admit, Kendall has the most perfect hair.