Aug 12, 2013

National Parks- Joshua Tree, A desert park


Joshua Tree National Park

One of the lesser known and less visited national parks of the west, Joshua Tree national park is one seemingly barren desert yet beautiful place with its own desert vegetation and wildlife! When people tour west coast the priority goes to Yosemite, Tahoe or Disneyland. Even some of my friends who were born and brought up in California had not heard of this place! I was surprised when they asked me 'Where is it?'. Well, it is a scenic showpiece at the confluence of Mohave and Sonoran deserts. 

Long roads at Joshua Tree National Park

About 135-miles from the busy glamorous Los Angeles, Joshua Tree National Park can be visited as a day trip destination. Park is open all year around though peak visiting time is April. During my only visit to this park I just drove around because I had only half-a-day here and I had to return to Los Angeles by evening. I was surprised to see such an unique landscape! I am sure it must be a great experience to camp here amidst the huge and weird boulders. The park has an 7-day entry permit for $15.

Typical landscape of Joshua Tree National Park
Typical landscape
Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia) are native to this park which is higher and cooler though a desert. The park has interesting landscape- heaps of loose boulders and then Joshua trees ... Beautiful blue day-time sky and mysterious dark night skies make this place wonderful. The rocks and boulders create variety of landforms. It is very hard to find some shade in this park. To see and enjoy all the attractions in the park one has to camp here.

Though the sky looks cool blue adorn with cotton-y clouds it is hot during afternoon hours. And I didn't happen to see any wildlife. There are very strange rock formations, one of which is Skull Rock. If you want a nice picture head there early. When I was there people were sitting in the eye sockets of the skull and never moved from there. Yes! The rock exactly looks like a huge skull!

Skull Rock at Joshua Tree National Park
Skull Rock
A nature walk through Cholla Cactus Garden is really memorable. Located on the Pinto Basin road this garden is natural, and has dense concentration of Cholla Cacti. The cactus is also known as Teddy Bear, well, you don't want to hug this one! Extremely delicate spines stick to the skin and it is very unpleasant experience if you happen to have a contact.

From Keys View, a lookout point high above the park provides incredible views of the desert. It is amazing to know how far one can see. From here one can see beyond Salton Sea to Mexico on clearer days, I couldn't! Mt San Jacinto was standing high in the whole landscape. And yey! At last I saw the San Andreas Fault! The dark line in the open desert floor looked as scary as I had learned about it!

I desperately looked for the bighorn sheep. May be it was not the season for them to come out. Even birds were hiding! I wanted to camp there in one of the campgrounds and wanted to see some wildlife, at least a desert lizzard or a tortoise! I know these creatures come out during evening when it gets cool and hide during the day to escape the heat.

Cholla Cactus Garden at Joshua Tree National Park
Cholla Cactus
Well, it was more of driving around than any adventure here. It was a family outing, me, my sister, brother-in-law and niece. The trio have never walked more than a block on paved footpath, leave alone hiking in Joshua Tree under the hot sun :) Even for me, the terrain looked pretty rugged and weather very harsh. This desert is a retreat for the adventurers but the main enemy is the heat. 

I have heard the stories of missing hikers who went for Quail Mountain and also who drove to the Black Eagle Mine Road! Seemed like backcountry hiking is not easy because the desert looks exactly same in every direction. Everything about the land feels like a maze of mystery. Barely any shade and any trace of a cool breeze. And hence I didn't want to take the rented Chevvy Cruz on any of the unpaved roads. The key to a safe experience is to inform some one about the plans and schedule in the desert, have enough food and water with you, and wait in the shade until rescue reaches. 

Rugged Landscape at Joshua Tree National Park

We entered through West Entrance and drove on Park Blvd to Keys View stopping at every view point we came across. Then Drove around to Queens Valley and to Cholla Cactus Garden on Pinto Basin Road, existed from North Entrance. Other than near Skull Rock and Jumbo Rocks campground I didn't see a single car around. It was very windy and I felt my bushy hair was filled with sand!

Other places of interest around Los Angeles on my road trip: Disneyland and California Adventure Parks, SeaWorld in San Diego, Universal Studios- Hollywood, Getty Museums, Huntington Gardens, Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, Wildflowers at Gorman, Orange County Great Park, Santa Catalina Island and Korean Bell of Friendship.
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Related articles-
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
Haleakala National Park, Maui
Denali National Park, An abode of Grizzly Bears
Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
National Parks of USA.

This post is linked to Our World Tuesday and Nature Notes.

If you want pictures please ask me :)
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Scrapbook- A Travel Blog by Kusum Sanu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

29 comments:

  1. Nice article. The landscape looks beautiful.

    www.rajniranjandas.blogspot.in

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  2. this is a fine example of the varied landscape in the state of california. this one's in the bucket list. hope when i finally get to visit, it's the year when the wildflowers are plentiful.

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    1. Yes, you are right about CA. Wildflowers huh? Good Luck!

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  3. I agree with Photo Cache, a fine example of the varied landscape in California, and I have been fortunate enough to visit there! Your photos brought back wonderful memories!! Great post and captures for the day, Kusum!! Hope you have a wonderful week!

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    1. Glad my post brought back all those beautiful memories for you Sylvia! Thank you!

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  4. Beautiful pictures of what is my favorite National Park...because of its mystery and strange and different beauty....and because (as you say) not so many people know about it and when we first went there, it felt like we were discovering something new and different! We've been there five or six times and I'd love to go again, but don't know if that will ever happen. So thank you for the great memories. (Did the cholla cactus grab you? You have to be careful walking too close to those beauties, as I found out the hard way ;>)!

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    1. Thank you Sallie! Yes, It definitely feels like we discovered something new! I knew about those pretty cacti before hand and I was careful! So sorry that you found out the hard way!

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  5. Great series!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

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  6. Great post on the Joshua Tree Nat'l park. I have heard lots about this park and would love to visit someday. For now I am enjoying your beautiful photos. Enjoy your week ahead!

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    1. Thanks Eileen! Yes! You must visit this place.

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  7. This made my day. I Love this park. Thank you!

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  8. Wonderful shots of this scenery!

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  9. I had the opportunity to visit part of the Mojave via Red Rock Canyon recently and wish I had time to go to the Joshua Tree National Park as well.... the desert landscape is just so beautiful!

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    1. Yes, you should have Catherine! Thanks for stopping by!

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  10. I lived in the Sonoran Desert for over a decade, and I miss the landscape. And in the monsoon season everything comes to live and the colors are gorgeous. Love your nature trail thru the park!!

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    1. ....should be comes to LIFE not live.

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    2. Oh wow! Sonoran?! I would love to see those Organ pipe cacti there!

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  11. fantastic photos... a place I've never been... looks so beautiful!

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    1. Thanks Laura! Glad you enjoyed the pics!

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  12. Beautiful photos. I would love to see this park some day, provided I ever make it west of the Rocky Mountains. Thanks for visiting my sky pic!

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  13. So much to see in CA that isn't what we typically think of when we hear California.. No, I would not want to be out there with a flat tire...but how beautiful it is...Michelle

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