I spent a couple days in Joshua Tree National Park recently with the boy. We ended up doing a decent amount of hiking, especially considering he is still just getting back on his feet post surgery. We used this great guide (Joshua Tree: The Complete Guide)* which I talked about here and picked a few shorter trails than what we normally like to hike. The first trail was 49 Palms Oasis and it was the perfect way to start our trip into Joshua Tree.
We were very nervous about this trail, not because it was difficult but because there was a huge sandstorm happening in the valley to the North of the park and as this trail is right on the North facing border between 29 Palms and Joshua Tree City, we were worried we might get caught in the high winds and sand. Not only did we not get caught in the sandstorm but we saw some amazing wildlife on the trail. Literally, on the trail.
This desert tortoise was sunning himself right in the middle of the trail, we may have tripped over him if another group heading down the trail hadn't warned us he was there. On our way back, he was just off the trail eating some wildflowers. Later on this trail, we also saw a pair of Chuckwalla's sunning themselves but it was impossible to get a picture of them.
This trail leads you up over some hills back to a naturally occurring oasis. Yes, like the kind you see in movies where there are suddenly palm trees and water. It is a very popular trail, we ran into a lot of groups of all ages, families, an elderly couple, a group of people our age down from Seattle, and tons more. It is 3 miles round trip but is rated as moderately strenuous because both in and out there is a 300 foot elevation gain since you have to go over a set of hills to get to the oasis.
The pictures don't really do this trail justice. I just had a little point and shoot camera with me and it was really hard to capture the landscape and the oasis. It is absolutely beautiful when you come over the hill and see the oasis nestled in the hillside. It is so unexpected and really gives you a sense of how rare and valued water is in this desert
All in all, this was a great hike and it gives you amazing views of the valley below where you can see the cities in the area as well as the desert sprawling towards Johnson Valley. It also offers a very different terrain than the other hikes we went on and we heard from several people in the park that it is the best place to find Chuckwalla's and the desert tortoise.
Have you been to Joshua Tree National Park? What was your favorite part of your visit?
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