The drive from Saguaro National Park near Tucson to Joshua Tree National Park in California wasn’t that long… only about five hours… but it was wrought with bucking winds for the latter part of the drive. Unless you’ve driven a big tall beast like this, you wouldn’t begin to know the effect… especially when the winds are GUSTING rather than steady. You literally have to hold on tight and compensate… push or pull against the wind (while staying upright and between the lines), and when it suddenly stops you have to correct yourself quickly and prepare for the next gust. These conditions leave my entire body tight, tired and aching by the time I’m done. But we made it.
You can’t reserve a campsite for a rig of my size… first come first serve only… which doesn’t work so well when the pickin’s are slim, so we booked two nights where I’d camped a few years prior; Joshua Tree Lake RV and Campground. I routed myself through the National Park, from south (Cottonwood Spring) to north (Twentynine Palms), so that John would be able to see parts of the park we would not have time to get through in the one full day we allowed ourselves
In the morning we headed to a hiking trail at the very north end of the park, Forty-nine Palms Oasis. It’s a moderate 3 mile hike through rather barren and rocky landscape, (elevation gain of 300 feet) to a hidden grove of palm trees. What I remember most is that it was very cold and very windy!
After that hike, a stop at the visitors center, and a quick bite to eat we headed into the park from Twentynine Palms, up Park Boulevard to the Split Rock trailhead. As it was, there were numerous split rocks, so we could only assume which one the trail was named for. This trail is easy, although listed moderate, 2.5 mile loop. The rocks are amazing, and reminiscent of geology of Alabama Hills. (Previous posts- Alabama Hills… A Little Known Gem and Alabama Hills and the Eastern Sierras).
I don’t know how we missed that this loop also included a side trip to “Face Rock”, which is a shame since I’ve since googled it and would love to have seen it. The funny thing is that I still saw all kinds of faces. I see faces and figures everywhere… rocks, clouds, tree bark, wall texture… I usually point them out as we go. Sometimes John can see them, and sometimes he just looks back and me and shakes his head.
So tell me, can you see what I see in these images? Look at the image before reading the description. Am I crazy or just imaginative? ?
I didn’t see anything but rocks in the scene above, but I looked at rocks and saw John below! ?
And then there were the Joshua Tree here and there…
After that hike we stopped at Skull Rock, which is hard to get a good angle on, but it’s still easy to see the skull.
As we headed out to Keys View Point we stopped at what we were told is the largest Joshua Tree in the park…
As it turned out Keys View Point was a bust. The light was incredibly hazy, and as we’ve run into more and more frequently, especially in our National Parks, there were hoards of visitors… almost all foreign. We can’t help but wonder if Americans visit our National Parks, or do they just take them for granted?
From Joshua Tree we headed to the west coast of California, and spent the remainder of our winter journey making our way up the entire western coast-line. First though, we took a boat trip out to Channel Islands National Park. Another first for John, and only my second visit out there. Pretty cool place! See y’all back here soon!