Symbols of Promise
Tradition has it that Mormons named these trees after the biblical figure, Joshua. Leading them to the land of opportunity in America's west, this member of the Yucca family still fascinates visitors today. Although technically a shrub, the tallest recorded Joshua Tree stands in the Queen's Garden of the Mojave Desert and is an impressive 40 feet. Undoubtedly, this park is a great place to photograph.
Joshua Tree National Park is an alluring place for photography, rock climbing, biking, hiking, horseback riding, camping, and scenic driving. This is truly a park for the people. Although it still feels wild, you are able to interact with this landscape more than with other parks.
It was incredibly windy when we arrived at the Black Rock campground. In fact, we had quite a hard time pitching our tent. With serious teamwork and the assistance of some boulders, we succeeded finally. As the night descended upon us, the wind died and the stars came out. The Joshua trees were all around us and campfires lit up their foliage against the black sky, creating a hypnotic atmosphere.
We set off early to hike Panorama Loop. This 6.6-mile trek climbs the ridge of the little San Bernadino mountains where we met the wind once again. Battling against it, we reach the summit of a small peak and enjoy a 360-degree view before scrambling down into a Joshua tree forest.
We were a little blown away by the accessibility of this park. Most of the other parks we visited had been very strict about staying on the trail. We encourage any person visiting a park to do so as much as possible especially in the desert. It can take decades for the ecosystem to recover in an area with such a short growing season.
Joshua Tree really is a park for wandering. This may be because of all the rock climbers here. As a result, you can pretty much go anywhere you want in those areas to access the best climbs. It is really fun just to sit out and watch people climb these huge formations. Skull Rock is an example of one of the cool locations to visit.
Photograph a Super Bloom
Experience has taught us that sometimes being impulsive is a great thing. Porcupine Wash was not a place we planned to hike. We pulled into the trailhead a little disappointed because from the road we saw nothing special.
We were wrong. This wash was a cornucopia. It is April 2017 and California has had a record-setting winter. As a result, the flowers in the desert were incredible in this wash. We took photograph after photograph. Everywhere we turned there was something new and special to capture.
The wildlife in this park was the first real taste of the many lizards that we would see in the southern portion of the PCT. Lizards were all over the trail as we hiked through porcupine wash. It was great to see several Horny Toads; which are rare to the area of Texas where we live. Travis always had fond memories of catching these guys as a kid in Kansas.
There were plenty of Caterpillars while we were there too, it was hard to not see one every couple of feet in some portions of the hikes. These things were huge too with a giant horn on the back of them, and they would thrash around on the ground if you touched them. These may be the White Lined Sphinx that turn into huge moths.
This park is getting us more prepared for our next traveling adventure as we head to Death Valley National Park for more hiking and camping read here.
- Explore the less busy places. You never know what you may find.
- Be prepared for the unexpected. Have water and proper clothing.
- Take photographs. This is a great place for it.
- For more information visit: https://www.nps.gov/jotr/index.htm
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