Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is about a 2 1/2 hour drive from us – a nice day trip for a hike. Of the 15 National Parks we’ve been to in 6 states, this one ranks smack dab in the middle of my favorite (#1&2 being Zion and Grand Teton). Judging by my list of favorite National Parks, I really should be living in Utah.

Another great thing about being retired is we can time all our trips to avoid the crowds. Instead of visiting destinations on a weekend or holidays, we try to travel from Mondays through Thursdays. Driving to a NP early Sunday afternoon to start our (short) hikes also works. As everyone is getting ready to leave, we swoop right in to take their coveted parking spots.

A jammed westbound I10

Since this was Joe’s first time to Joshua Tree, I arranged it so that we would check out the top 3 trails in the park.

The easy 1-mile loop in Hidden Valley is mostly flat
However, you may choose to scramble up rocks if you so desire
Walking past a tall Joshua tree
One of the many rock climbers we saw in the park
They make our attempts appear like baby scrambles
The beautiful desert scenery
Check out the guy in the background

Given the extreme heat during the summer time, a lot of under prepared visitors run into trouble in this park – mostly from dehydration and heat exhaustion resulting in several fatalities in recent years.

Yes ma’am!

The next easy hike was the nearby 1.3-mile Barker Dam loop.

The scenery along the Barker Dam trail
A slight detour brought us to the petroglyphs

Finally, we headed off to our last hike of the afternoon – the 3-mile out and back Ryan Mountain Trail.

The first mile and a half is a continuous uphill, with stone steps in the first half.
The path becomes more primitive the further you go
Took us 50 minutes to get to the summit
View of San Jacinto and San Gorgonio peaks in the distance
Then it was a quick 40-minute downhill back to the parking lot

We made a quick stop at two more places before the sun went down.

Skull Rock
Jumbo Rock

I had wanted to take a photo of the Milky Way since Joshua Tree National Park is designated as a dark sky park, but it didn’t quite work out as I had forgotten to bring the tripod. By the time, we got back home, it was close to midnight.

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