Joshua Tree National Forrest

Trip Start Mar 16, 2012
Trip End Mar 24, 2012

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Where I stayed
Campbell House Twentynine Palms
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of United States  , California
Wednesday, March 21, 2012

One of my family members heard we were going to Joshua Tree National Park and made a point to call us the day we were there. She wanted to know how we were enjoying the hikes under the canopy of the Joshua Trees. Ha, ha, ha.

Established in 1994, Joshua Tree Park encompasses nearly 800,000 acres and includes two deserts. The Colorado Desert encompasses the eastern part of the park and features natural gardens of creosote bush, ocotillo, and cholla cactus. The higher, moister, and slightly cooler Mojave Desert is the special habitat of the Joshua tree. In addition to Joshua tree forests, the western part of the park also includes some of the most interesting geologic displays found in California's deserts. Five fan palm oases also dot the park.

As I left the Joshua Tree forest from our early arrival visit and followed my GPS's directions across the desert, a foreboding came upon me that I was either very lost or I had made a very bad lodging error. I was literally in the middle of a vast desert, on a dirt road, with only small desert dwellings in my view.  It was then I saw an Oasis.  Literally, the Roughly Manor is set in the middle of an Oasis of extremely large palm trees forming the perimeter of the most delightful setting.

I enter the main stone home to the smell of baking chocolate chip cookies.  I’m home.  I had elected to stay in one of the two suites within the main house.  The evenings would be chilly and there is a separate living room with a fireplace.  The perfect setting for a romantic evening with my honey.  The Magnolia Suite was well appointed, spacious and tastefully decorated.  My wife, who has a keen eye, was truly impressed by the decorating of the entire home and a peak into a couple of the cottages that are on the grounds.

This home has been restored and maintained with meticulous loving care.  It is a labor of love to attain and maintain the high quality I observed.  Walking the grounds is like being in a fairytale.  You could see the signs of attentive landscaping professionals everywhere and pathways were all recently cleaned and raked.  Outdoor furnishings and settings are extremely comfortable and provide venues for couples or small groups to gather.  The water features accent the entire setting to be just perfect.

Breakfast – The two we enjoyed were out of this world - Artfully crafted, the presentation and taste was five-star quality.

I highly recommend a stay at the Roughly Manor to anyone who plans to visit the Joshua Tree National Forest or who has any other reason for being in the area.  See the video.

We dined for dinner two evenings at the 29 Palms Inn.  I had originally planned on staying in one of the bungalows at the Inn.  I’m glad I paid a bit more to stay at the B&B.  Not that there was anything wrong with the Inn. I’m really glad I ate at the Inn - kind of a funky vibe, very nice folks and good food.

I am told that military training is conducted nearby in order to prepare our troops for the bleak and treacherous landscape of Afghanistan.  If you love desert scenery and climbing rock outcroppings, this is the place to come.  The Joshua Trees are found only here on earth.  The name Joshua tree was given by a group of Mormon settlers who crossed the Mojave Desert in the mid-19th century. The tree's unique shape reminded them of a Biblical story in which Joshua reaches his hands up to the sky in prayer.

There are numerous pull-offs which are clearly intended for the rock climbing enthusiasts that dot the landscape.  There are many places where you can take long hikes into the desert or short strolls through a desert garden or to an interesting destination.  Early into our hiking we realized we were ill prepared for desert hiking.  We had water, but no sunscreen or hats.  We kept to the short hikes.

Our first hike was through Hidden Valley was great fun.  I accidently found a cave of petroglyphs and we met a nice Israeli man who took our picture.

Keys View overlooks the San Andreas Fault and presents a spectacular view of the valley below and distant snowcapped mountain peaks.

Barker Dam was another fun hike to a picturesque destination of rocks and water.

The Cholla Cactus Garden was an amazing place to visit.  These unique and decorative cacti are everywhere.  We were warned that walking on this nature trail can be hazardous.  At the slightest touch, the spines penetrate your flesh and are extracted only with difficulty and pain.  The Jumping Teddy Bear is a species of Cholla with a microscopic barb that will penetrate your shirt, pants, and shoes.

We lucked out and many of the wildflower areas were in bloom especially in the Cottonwood Spring area.  However, the drive from the north part of the park to Cottonwood required us to drive through 30 miles of bleak desert.  See the video.  Casey literally became very, very worried.  What if we break down?  How will we survive here in the middle of nowhere?  It was a bit creepy to look that far into the distance and only see desert landscape and distant mountains.  But, we made it to the Lost Palms Oasis and enjoyed the wildflowers.

On our last day, we visited the Oasis of Mara which was convenient to our B&B.  The hike allowed us to see one of the many oasis in the desert up close and personal. 
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My Review Of The Place I Stayed

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