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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Joshua Tree National Park

It is really hard to believe that after all these years of living in California, especially during these "desert" years, I had never been to Joshua Tree National Park. We have driven past the entrances time and again and always said, "We gotta get out here sometime." Finally, on a windy day with Doug's parents, we ventured to the park. Once again, like the Tram, this National Park does not disappoint.
You feel as though you are driving to the hinterlands with vast desert landscapes surrounding you. Then suddenly large towering rock structures begin shooting up around you and the distinctive Joshua Tree begins to appear on the landscape.  The combination is breathtaking and a bit unlike other landscapes.  
We were there on a driving tour so barely got out of the car which was fine because the temperature was in the low 60's and the wind was whipping around us at breakneck speed.  The roads are really good and allow excellent access to the park.  The trailheads for hikers are clearly marked and we even saw some rock climbers.
The landscape was mesmerizing for me.  I found the raw beauty of the rock formations and desert vegetation to be a fantastic combination. And with names like Lost Horse Mine surrounding you, you felt that you were being transported to the wild west.
The high point of our journey was Keys View, a perch that overlooks the Coachella Valley from the opposite side of what we saw from Mt. San Jacinto. The wind was really whipping when we got up there so I just ran out, climbed the stairs to the top of the lookout and tried to snap a couple of shots. The park is well marked with great information about the vegetation and where the famed San Andreas fault line runs.  We were pleased to learn that the fault line runs right through our property at Mission Lakes! (We knew that but still...weird to see it on a map!)
Joshua Tree is about 30-40 minute drive from our house.  Doug and I said that we'd definitely like to return to the park to do some hiking and exploring on foot.  It is a national treasure and once again, if you are in the area, it's worth taking a little time to wander through the park.