This week I was suppose to be down in Palm Springs for work – but my workload at home derailed those plans. Instead I’m playing catch up and getting balls rolling on new projects. And while I’m happy to have the extra time at home, I do miss the chance to escape into Joshua Tree just a small detour from the Palm Desert.
Growing up in Arizona, road trips to California were common and the perfect night sky could be seen down I-10 (highway 10) at night on the 265 mile drive from Palm Springs to Phoenix. And when I moved to California back in 2010 I would always plan my trips to my home-state (AZ) at night so I could drive with the top down on my convertible (at the time) and let the brightly lit night sky light the way.
There aren’t many street lights – or stops- once you drive west of the Palm Desert which means the only light pollution comes from the head and tail lights of the cars on the 10.
On one trip back to California I saw the exit for Joshua Tree and made one of my favorite detours to date. While the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park is down the street from a McDonalds and a Kentucky Fried Chicken, once you enter the part you are transported to a unique new world.
The following pictures are from my second visit to the park and shockingly not filtered.
The unique landscape is what I imagine Mars would look and feel like. And while I know we have pictures of what Mars actually looks like, I prefer to think this is what it actually looks like – and that I’ve got to experience more than a National Park, but a new planet.
The rock formations were crafted for climbing and so picture perfect that I’m shocked that instagram models haven’t taken over the park (maybe it’s because theres no wifi).
The signature “Joshua Tree” plants are as Suessical as they are described on wikipedia and even more unique and original as your imagine would build them up to be. They are spread out, never really touching and stand tall as if trying to show off their figure compared to the tree next to them, almost saying “look at me instead of her…” Damn, I just made these poor trees bitchy didn’t I? lol
There are mountain-like rock formations, acres of flat and dry desert landscape and rolling hills… A rich variety of landscapes that are unique to this park where the Mohave desert shows off some of its best selling points.
One this day (I cant even remember what year this trip was) the clouds moved faster than I had ever seen them move before. Some clouds as white as can be and a grey and black cloud chasing it from the west. I was hoping a dark cloud would grace us with a little rain – but as can be expected in the desert rain is hard to come by.
I love this picture I took of a Joshua Tree. Its coverings are almost furry and while its structure is narrow, tall and kind of wonky (yes, thats a technical term) you can’t help but appreciate the little bit of shade gifted to you as you trek across the park.
This photo pretty gives you a little taste of all of the things I’ve come to love from Joshua Tree – the rock formations, the landscape, the racing clouds and Joshua Tree with a fancy up-do.
Of course I had to do a little climbing – followed by a handstand (for handstands sake). My 5’6 (and a 1/2) height was nothing compared to this structure holding its ground off the main path.
I hope my future holds a bouldering adventure to reach new heights (literally). I imagine I’m going to need to dust off my rock climbing skills as there aren’t any crash mats or safety nets to catch me when my fingers cramp and my forearms give out on me. But back to the big picture – I miss this place.
I need to make a trip back here. Roaming, camping under the stars and climbing for days sounds like an ideal adventure. But I’m going to bee SPF, H2O and plenty of shaded – as you won’t find any of those items in the park.
I am not a photographer, but this place is so pretty it makes me look like I actually know how to take a picture (years of taking pictures of my meals and Starbucks cups might have actually prepared me for moments like these).
If i showed you a picture of these rocks and told you they were 4 inches tall, you might believe me. But seeing me standing tall (or as tall as one can be at 5’6) and seeing the actual scale of these boulders is pretty impressive.
I don’t remember what was going on here – but that is not my suggested way of getting down from the top… but if you do, please for the love of God point your toes if someone happens to casually be taking a photo of you.
So, back to the point (and I use the word “point” vaguely) – If you ever have the opportunity to visit Joshua Tree National Park, make it a destination and not a detour. Camp under the stars, pack and drink plenty of water and take plenty of pictures to remember this journey into this whole new world.
If you have any pictures from your trips to Joshua Tree, please share them and send them my way! And if you’ve been climbing and camping in the park what are the must-haves to pack!
Thank you for the short trip down memory lane and look forward to your responses!