Everyone has heard of Joshua Tree National Park, but not that many people have actually been. Perhaps it is because they think they know what it is and there isn’t much to it. Well I’m happy to report that, while it is indeed full of Joshua Trees, It is an incredibly diverse and beautiful place, we only spent 2 days there but easily could have spent a week just taking in the view.
Joshua Trees are technically related to the Yucca and you can tell, they look like giant plants that have been grafted on to trees. They grow pretty slowly so the big ones are very old, some of the oldest examples have lived to 1000 years. They were named by the Mormons for their resemblance to Joshua reaching up to heaven in prayer.
The park was created in the 30s as a National Monument and upgraded to National Park in the 90s. One of the surprises of the park, is that while the Joshua Trees are incredible, the Geology of the park is almost more amazing. There are some of the most striking layouts of boulders, and fissures, talus caves, and cliffs. Next time we go back I plan to do some rock climbing or scrambling, like nearly every other person there while we visited.
We spent a good bit of time in the hidden valley area which was supposedly a popular roost for cattle thieves back when that was a lucrative activity. You could see why as it was a huge valley almost completely sealed by giant boulders with only one very subtle entrance. The shape of this area means that in addition to joshua tree there are tons of other desert flora. Its a pretty great walk through here.
So much more than just Joshua Trees, this park is a crazy wonderland of amazing rock formations.
Numerous people told us to camp in the Jumbo Rocks Campground but it was full when we were there so we stayed at the Black Rock campground. Black Rock was convenient to get to from town (its only a few miles from yucca valley) and very pretty, but after looking at Jumbo Rocks, next time we will try and go there, much more isolated and beautiful.