Within the boundaries of Joshua Tree National Park, the Sonoran and Mojave deserts meet. In the higher Mojave portion of the national park, a forest of the strange Joshua Trees and a number of unique rock formations called Inselbergs are protected. In the lower Colorado portion, the Pinto Basin exhibits the typical plants of this hotter Sonoran Desert.
For all its harshness of conditions, the desert is a land of surprising variety and complexity but still very fragile. Viewed from the roadside, Joshua Tree National Park only hints at its hidden vitality. To the close observer, however, a tiny flower bud or the lizard's frantic dash reveals this desert park as a place of beauty and life. (Taken from the National Park website)
Read more: http://www.desertusa.com/jtree/jtmain.html#ixzz46QRylJS8
We got some great information from one of the rangers and then setout. We stopped at Skull Rock first and got a few photos and hiked part of the 1.7 mile loop.
We then drove the rest of the way through the park to get an idea of where the trailheads were and other opportunities to explore. The main road through the park goes from Twenty nine Palms to Joshua Tree - the town.
The next day we planned to hike to Pine City and then a short hike at Hidden Valley. Off the main road we drove down a dirt road to a parking area at the trailhead where several trails begin. This is a popular trail however during the week there weren't a lot of folks hiking.
Pine City is pretty flat hike of about 3 miles in and out. We saw several cactus blooming, rocks formations and the typical Joshua Tree everywhere.
We got to one area of rocks and had a little fun posing for a photo. A young German couple came along as we were playing on the rocks and I asked them to assist us. They were here visiting California after graduating college. They were headed to Yosemite next.
Me saving Glenda from a boulder rolling over her
We had a fun time and a nice walk in the park. Ha-ha. Next we headed to Hidden Valley trail. This is a short flat trail within a hidden area of rocks where cattle rustlers used to bring the cattle for safe keeping until they could be rebranded and sold in other states. However after some time the government caught up with them and stopped the rustling. This is now a popular area for rock climbers.
Our next excursion took us to Keys View. This is an overlook off the main road where you can see the Coachella Valley, San Andreas Fault, Palm Springs, San Bernardino Mtn, and the San Jacinto Mtn.
Panoramic view - Click to enlarge
Our next visit to the park was a couple days later. We decided to hike up Ryan Mountain Trail with an elevation gain of about 1,000 feet. Again a very popular hike. Interesting to see how people dress for this type of hike. T shirt, jeans, tennis shoes for some guys. Short shorts, bra tops, tennis shoes for the girls and most had very little water with them. Typically these folks were of the younger persuasion. Any way, the trail continuously climbs upward from the parking lot with some parts of the trail near the edge of the mountain. It got pretty windy in some areas too. there were several areas of rock steps which helped in climbing. Once at the top the views were spectacular.
We found a nice area out of the wind and took in the views while we ate out lunch. Such a great feeling of accomplishment in this type of hike. It isn't always fun getting there but the effort is so worth it.
Of course not everyday is a fun day. We have had to do laundry, grocery shopping and work around the rig. People are coming and going in the park however there are a few permanent residents. We decided to stay here for a month so we could save some money on park fees and we could have some access to areas around Joshua Tree.
We even took a drive to Palm Springs last week for a late lunch. Quite a place to say the least. We saw some Kardashian wannabees and on the main street there were spas, restaurants and shops.
We stopped at the Las Casuelas Terraza Restaurant and had a great meal. While we ate a band began to play and several people in the bar area got up to dance. Then a black gentleman that was eating there too got up and asked if everyone wanted to hear some Mo Town music. Then the band started to play Papa was a Rolling Stone and this guy started singing. He sounded just like Lou Rawls. Deep voice but hit the high notes too. He knew all the words to the song and really was the highlight of our stop in Palm Springs. After lunch we walked a couple of streets and I found a shop with some souvenirs. So I bought a coozie for my craft beers.
We've had a fun time so far and have plans to rent a car this weekend and drive to San Diego, Encinitas, Laguna Beach and Hollywood. Hoping we can fit it all in in 3 days. Guess we'll see. I was stationed at Balboa Naval Hospital when I was in the Navy, I have a friend that I went to Chiropractic School with that I want to visit, a cousin in Laguna Beach and we want to say we walked the street of stars. We're up for the challenge. Won't be long until we head to Pahrump, NV and move on to our adventures. Until then we have more hikes planned and sightseeing in the area.
A few more photos before I end this post.