Rockin' in the Desert
Trip Start May 09, 2009
96Trip End May 27, 2010
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Joshue Tree is a fairly recent National Park (1994) but had been a National Monument before that. The park covers 789,745 acres, with a large portion designated as wilderness. It includes parts of both the Mojave and the Colorado Deserts, each with different characterisitcs due to elevation. The lower (below 3000 feet) Colorado Desert features desert plants such as creosote bush, ocotillo and cholla cactus. The higher, drier and cooler Mojave Desert part of the park features the Joshua Tree, a type of Yucca plant that looks like something from a Dr, Suess book. Surrounding the flat areas where the Joshua Trees reside are hills of bare rock, much of which has been broken up into boulders of all shapes and sizes. For us, the rocks were the most interesting part of the park.
Appropriately, Jim had picked out a campground in the park called Jumbo Rocks for our stay and when we got there, it truly lived up to its name. We got a great campsite that backed up to magnificant jumbo rock formations and cliffs -- and the best part was that we ended up without neighbors (no Cousin Vinny this time!). We had beautiful nights, although it was full moon, so we couldn't see many stars. But we had terrific sunrises, sunsets, moonrises and moonsets. It turned really cold at night but we had camp fires (and each other) to keep us warm.
We had some great relatively short hikes in the park, many with interpretative trails that explained the geologic forces at work here and the desert flora and fauna. Jim did a more strenous hike up Ryan's Mountain which is at 5457' elevation, We saw coyotes alongside the road on one of our drives and heard them from our campground. We saw desert mice (rats?) scurrying among the rocks. There are kit foxes there, but we didn't see any.
We learned from this stay at Joshua Tree that the desert can be as beautiful as the ocean or mountains. More desert beauty awaits us at our next stop...Death Valley.