Monday, January 23, 2017

Joshua Tree National Park, California - Hiking

Katy and John invited me to join them for a quick weekend trip to Joshua Tree National Park.  Being one of my favorite places, I quickly accepted the invitation.  I flew down to Las Vegas on Friday afternoon and met  up with Katy, who had been in Las Vegas for work, and John, who flew down from Seattle.  In the pouring rain, we headed south for the three hour drive to Joshua Tree.  It was late by the time we arrived, so we ate a quick dinner at the delicious Pie for the People before checking in to our funky AirBnB home for the weekend. 

Despite a stormy forecast, the sun was shining on Saturday morning.  We headed over to Indian Cove to begin our first hike for the day, the Boy Scout Trail, heading into the Wonderland of Rocks.

Blue sky and sunshine for our hike
Katy and John on the Boy Scout Trail
We hiked the Boy Scout Trail for about an hour and a half, eventually climbing up out of the canyon and into a rocky landscape dotted by yucca.  Noticeably missing from this part of the park, however, was the Joshua Tree, so we decided to climb around the rocks for a bit before returning to the trailhead. 

Katy and John in the Wonderland of Rocks
John climbing the rocks
Boy Scout Trail in Joshua Tree National Park

We headed into the main part of the park after our hike on the Boy Scout Trail to check of some of the top attractions.  Our first stop was a quick hike on the Hidden Valley loop trail, followed by a drive up to Keys View.

Joshua Tree in Hidden Valley
Joshua Tree
Keys View

From Keys View, we drove to Pinto Basin to check out the ocotillo patch and the cholla cactus garden.  Pinto Basin is an incredibly large, open  region of the park surrounded by beautiful, barren mountains.  The Colorado Desert meets the Mojave Desert in Pinto Basin, making the area even more unique.

Ocotillo in Pinto Basin
Cholla cactus garden
Cholla cactus garden in Pinto Basin
Cholla cactus

Our final stop of the day was the Hall of Horrors, a popular rock climbing area in the park.  We decided it would be a good location to watch the sun set, and we were correct.  As the sun dropped low in the sky, the granite rocks and Joshua Trees little up with a beautiful warm glow.

Joshua Tree at Hall of Horrors
Sunset at Hall of Horrors
Joshua Tree at sunset
Joshua Trees at sunset
Sunset at Hall of Horrors
Sunset at Hall of Horrors

After watching the sun set, we headed back to town for dinner.  We ended up at Crossroads Cafe, another great choice with vegan options for me.

Katy and John
John enjoying the sunset
Sunset in Joshua Tree National Park

Sunset from Hall of Horrors in Joshua Tree National Park
On Sunday, John and I hiked the short trail to Fortynine Palms Oasis, enjoying some breaks of sunshine between the building storm clouds.  The oasis was filled with beautiful palm trees of various sizes, and a substantial amount of water was flowing nearby.  We finished our brief weekend trip with a delicious lunch at the Natural Sisters Cafe in Joshua Tree, followed by even more delicious coffee from the famous Joshua Tree Coffee Company.

Fortynine Palms Oasis in Joshua Tree National Park
Fortynine Palms Oasis
Fortynine Palms Oasis
Fortynine Palms Oasis
Fortynine Palms Oasis

A rainbow followed us on our way out of town, but the breaks of sunshine were quickly replaced by darkening storm clouds and rain.  By the time we reached Mojave National Preserve, the rain was falling hard and low clouds obscured any views of the surrounding landscape.  We were thankful to have had such a beautiful day of hiking in Joshua Tree on Saturday, making the quick trip absolutely worth it.  A big thanks to Katy and John for inviting me along!

Rainbow in Joshua Tree