As promised, today I’m sharing some photos from the two days Laur and I spent in Joshua Tree. The National Park is an easy 2 – 2.5 hour drive for us, here in LA, making it an easy day trip. But after staying the night and seeing that amazing night sky full of stars, I completely recommend spending the night in the desert.
We drove to the West Entrance because it made the most sense for us, coming from the west. And also because that’s where the little village of JT is…full of cute cafe’s and lots of little shops and local thrift shops…and a farmer’s market! When we arrived late afternoon, we immediately stopped at The Natural Sisters Cafe for delicious sandwiches and smoothies. And then we walked around the village and window shopped…and picked up my magical mexican blanket at one of the art and thrift shops 😉
some other places we ate in the village: Crossroads Cafe for breakfast, which included one of the best waffles I’ve ever had! And Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, just s short drive away in Pioneer Town…this place was super cool with a live band performing while we were there. Be forewarned: the servings are pretty huge! We definitely ordered way more than we could handle!
We were able to hit mostly every spot in the park during our two days at a leisurely pace…the way that Joshua Tree National Park is set up is: there is one main road that runs through the park, and so you drive along the main road and pull off onto side roads where there are lots of hiking trails and tons of opportunities for climbing and bouldering. I told Laur that she has to come back with her husband, Mat next time, because they love climbing!
Barker Dam is one of the only spots in the whole park with a plentiful source of water! The Park used to have a lot more water sources, but as our climate has changed and JT has turned into desert, the animals have adapted — often collecting all of the hydration they need from the early morning dew, and the Joshua Trees themselves have adapted! They’re a pretty amazing plant species.
Joshua Trees are found only in the Southwestern US — in the Mojave desert (The Park is spread out across both the Mojave Desert, as well as the Colorado Desert), and were named by the Mormons. When they came across the trees, they were reminded of the Prophet Joshua, raising his arms towards the heavens for guidance, and so they got their name: Joshua Trees. They can reach up to 40 feet, and I think Laur and I definitely saw some that were that tall during our trip!
What makes Joshua Trees extra special is the environment in which they must endure: hot and arid desert days in the summer, frigid winter nights, and extremely little precipitation all year around. The tree actually relies solely on a species called the yucca moth to keep it alive. This is the only insect that has adapted to pollinate the trees and spread their seeds. The trees have extremely thick and long roots that grow towards water sources. It’s predicted that if our climate keeps changing as drastically as it has been, it could be the downfall of both the yucca moths and Joshua Trees themselves –and in turn, much of the wildlife in the desert that depends on these trees as a life source. Something about driving through a desert sea of these trees just makes me smile…so I hope that changes can be implemented to help save this incredible plant species.
One of my favorite stops we made on our second day was at the Cholla Cactus Garden, located near the Cottonwood Park Entrance in the Colorado Desert. These cacti are extremely dangerous and so there were lots of signs urging people not to touch the plants, as the prickers are extremely painful to remove. The Cholla’s are so stinkin’ cute, that they’ve been nicknamed The Teddy Bear Cactus, but it’s definitely one teddy bear that you don’t want to cuddle 😉
We saw a lot of crazy climbers during our trip…but we just stuck to some of the shorter hikes and boulder piles…including probably the most well-known (and definitely the most crowded) spot in the park: Skull Rock!
Another one of my favorite spots was an old adobe house near Ryan Mountain. It was crazy to think that, not only did people once live in this part of the desert, but also that it was an extremely popular place for mining! There are some really cool mining trails throughout the park as well, that I’ve done on past trips!
We enjoyed the sunset on Friday evening at Keys Ranch, where we met some other gals who were there and offered us some champagne! It’s these little moments that always become my favorites of any trip 🙂
I am so extremely thankful to have a best friend in Laur — she is one of the truest, most giving friends that I know and love, and I feel so lucky to have experienced this magical time in Joshua Tree with her! They say that October is the best time to see the Park, and I would definitely have to agree. The temperatures were comfortable, the skies were gorgeous, but the company was the best part 😉 Laur, thanks for letting me take photos of you all weekend! You’re the best — and I’m so grateful that you made the trip out to see me!
While leaving the park, we couldn’t help but stop and snap some photos of the sky as it lit up with pinks and purples. The silhouettes of the Joshua Trees are my absolute favorite. The desert is so incredible, and this National Park is so different from all of the other ones we have…I definitely urge anyone to take some time to explore this crazy unique place!
just a note: if you’re thinking about visiting Joshua Tree, be sure to fill up on gas, and pack plenty of snacks and lots of water. It’s easy to forget to drink water when the temperatures aren’t super hot, but it’s still the desert, and you don’t want to get dehydrated. While there are bathrooms throughout the park at some of the different camp sites, there aren’t any places to buy food or drinks, except outside of the main entrances.