Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

I’ve said it before, and probably/definitely will say it for every Cali park post…. Californians are SO lucky to have so many amazing places to visit. After we left Channel Islands (and picked up adventure pup from his amazing Rover doggy day care!), we headed over to Joshua Tree National Park – just a mere 3.5 hours away. 

We entered through the North West station to grab my booklet, talk to the rangers, and make a game plan. I don’t think we really did this park justice, but it was August in a desert, we had Luca with us, and we were on a time crunch. So while we only explored it like slightly active retirees/seniors would, it was still a delightful day at Joshua Tree. 

This park did a great job with it’s park guide and it gave us our exact itinerary for the day. There is one main road that goes through the park and we began with Hidden Valley nature trail to give us a taste and short education. While this park is obviously best known for it’s namesake tree, it has a lot more to offer with it’s beautiful landscape. After Hidden Valley area, we ventured down the short side road to Keys View and took in the glorious view of mountains and Californian desert. 

We headed back to Park Boulevard Road and hit up two of the easier trails; Skull Rock and Discovery Trail. My favorite rock formation was one that looked like an elephant. We were also incredibly sweaty and tired on a relatively flat 2 mile hike… I can’t imagine doing any of the longer hikes. Just our butt sweat could have filled up my Hydroflask. 

A bit further down the road, we did one more hike through Cholla Cactus Garden and got to see the other lovely flora of Joshua Tree Park. Since it was the only relatively shady area there, we also got to see many lizards, kangaroo rats (cute desert mouses, basically), and road runners! Beep beep. At the end of the scenic drive, we visited the south Visitor Center; Cottonwood Spring. I soaked up the AC and beautiful palm trees while I became a Junior Ranger and wore an amazing paper ranger hat that they give you!


I feel a bit weird doing recommendations for a park that we didn’t explore too extensively, but below are some good common sense suggestions.

  • Maybeeeee don’t go to a desert late August. It would be slightly more enjoyable I believe. 
  • There are no amenities once you’re in the park. Make sure your car is in tip top shape and have plenty of food and water. 
  • As Baz Luhrmann said…. wear sunscreen. 
  • I really did love the Skull Rock trail. Bring your imagination with you (or get delirious from the sun) because the rocks and flora are prime for channeling your inner child to see fun shapes. 

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