Joshua Tree National Park
This past weekend was Coachella and everyone who went relentlessly documented the music festival over social media. As many of us celebrated Easter and #NoChella, I sifted through some old pictures from January when my family and I crossed another National Park off of our list and road tripped to Joshua Tree for the day.
January 1st is usually pretty quiet in LA. A fair majority of people are recovering from a night out on the town in one of the largest metropolitan cities. We on the other hand were wide awake at 8 am and hitting the road for the dessert. After a brief stop at Starbucks for our cup of joe, we noticed something peculiar about the iconic Hollywood sign.
Hollywood had been changed to Hollyweed as a humorous prank to kick off 2017. A funny, little change, but major props to the artists who was able to pull that off.
Our GPS was set for Palm Springs which is about two hours away from Los Angeles. In that space between the two cities, there's not much. Like, really, no much other than wind turbine fields and the surrounding mountains. It was nice to see some clear skies and not a the usual smog haze.
We passed by the city and emerged into a more arid landscape with fewer and fewer houses until we screeched to a halt behind a line of cars waiting to enter the park. I guess this was a popular destination for 2017!
How cool would it be to live right next to a national park? You're basically in America's backyard! Well, you are in the middle of nowhere, but still it'd be pretty rad.
We inched along the road as the sun began to rise in the sky and scorch us. Once we were close enough, we slipped into the fast track line and used our National Park Pass. We had purchased it in preparation for our Utah Road Trip where we hit 4/5 parks. The pass is well worth the investment at only $80 for a year. All you have to do is go to four national parks and it's already paid for itself!
As we drove into the park, we had no idea where we were or where we were going...classic us. We just followed the road and let the curves takes us through. The sun was shining over the cracked ground and Joshua Trees were dotting the landscape amongst the rocky hills and mountains. Every once in a while, a tumbleweed would blow across our path and remind me of the old west (it's the southwest but you get the idea).
At every turn off, we'd hop out of the car and wander through the land. My paranoia of snakes and scoripions was always in full gear, but thankfully we didn't spot any. No desert critters this time!
Everyone having fun in the desert! Lots of funny, candid moments.
Unfortunately, we only had the day to explore the area. Joshua Tree would be an AMAZING place to visit again on a proper camping trip accompanied with some bouldering and rock climbing! With every large rock formation we passed, there were people scurrying their way up the face of the rock. The only way we could spot the climbers was from their brightly colored jackets.
Half way through our journey, we managed to stumble upon the visitors center...that would have been helpful at the start. We decided to pop in to take a break from driving, take a bathroom break, and buy a patch to add to my collection.
In the parking lot, we spotted a little roadrunner dashing through the car wheels before ducking into the nearby brush and cacti.
When we had browsed the visitor's center, we spoke to one of the park rangers who pointed us in the direction to see some more highlights. One of those was the Cholla Cactus Garden, my personal favorite spot in the desert.
Set in an open valley, the garden is a little area partitioned off for cholla cacti to flourish. There are little boardwalks to walk through the ombre plants, some were even flowering.
The sun had begun to peak in the sky and the morning turned into the afternoon, signaling the end of our brief trip. We ended the day by going into Palm Springs and devouring some In-n-Out and grabbing a scoop of ice cream before hitting the road.
Now I understand why people escape to the desert. Going to have to back here ASAP.