30 Hours in Joshua Tree National Park

I’m always down to explore one of our beautiful National Parks, but Joshua Tree National Park is one that’s been on my bucket list for years. Mostly because the Joshua Tree looks like it grew straight out of a Dr. Seuss book, I won’t lie, and also because this desert scene is something brand new to me.

Top Sites in Joshua Tree National Park

 

Growing up in Boulder, Colorado, I’ve been spoiled by with sweeping mountain views my entire life; and though views of the Rocky Mountains certainly never get old, there’s something about the desert landscape that just gets me. Maybe it’s the vast, wide-openness that calls to my adventurous side, or the fact that I’m slightly obsessed with cacti (even though I definitely backhanded a cholla cactus… twice). That my parents raised me with an insatiable desire to see, do and learn is definitely a factor 😉

Regardless of the reason, four of us flew to Los Angles, drove 2.5 hours east into the desert, and descended on Joshua Tree National Park for a mere 30 hours. Now, that’s not really enough time to see the entire park, so we picked out our top spots and hit as many as we could, and I’m already planning my next trip back!

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Top Sites in Joshua Tree National Park

  1. Our first stop in Joshua Tree National Park was the Cholla Cactus Garden, a .25-mile loop through thousands of naturally growing cholla cactus! You’ll want to wear closed-toes shoes, and stay on the trail… fun facts about these cholla babies: they’re also called “jumping cholla” because the spines break off easily and instantly stick to anything that brushes up against them, and the barbed needles to curve are extremely painful to remove.Cholla Cactus Garden Top Sites in Joshua Tree National ParkCholla Cactus Garden Top Sites in Joshua Tree National Park
  2. At our second stop, we walked the 1-mile loop around Hidden Valley. It was a fairly easy hike with tons of rocks to climb and great sites along the way. The valley itself is stunning, surrounded by massive rock walls and filled with Joshua Trees and cacti.hidden valley joshua tree national park top places to visitIMG_4235
  3. We watched the sun set over the Coachella Valley from Keys View, and it was unfortunately super cloudy. And super windy. And super cold. So we didn’t stay too long. I have a feeling that the 3-mile hike up Ryan Mountain would also offer spectacular views!Coachella valley joshua tree national park
  4. The next morning we came back to watch the sunrise and it was, as expected, completely breathtaking. While Keys View or Ryan Mountain (if you can hike in the dark) would be amazing to watch the sunrise as well, we just pulled off to the side of the road and had a perfect view.watching the sunrise joshua tree national parkwatching the sunrise joshua tree national parkwatching the sunrise joshua tree national parkwatching the sunrise joshua tree national parkwatching the sunrise joshua tree national park
  5. Of course, we couldn’t leave without climbing around on some of the massive rocks strewn throughout the park!rock climbing joshua tree national parkrock climbing joshua tree national parkrock climbing joshua tree national parkrock climbing joshua tree national park

And I already have a few ideas in mind for the next trip back 😉 stay tuned!

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4 thoughts on “30 Hours in Joshua Tree National Park

  1. Well, we haven’t been to Joshua Tree yet but Mojave and Death Valley have been frequent stomping grounds. My wife grew up in the mid west, then lived and traveled throughout Europe before settling here. I grew up in Southern California and New York before settling here. After 13 years and 18 years respectively, we feel we’re ready to move on. But the desert does fascinate us still and the dark skies are great for star gazing and fill both of us with a real sense of awe.

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  2. You did an excellent job of maximizing your time at Joshua Tree. Next time you can walk up Ryan Mountain and more. The view is fine, but it’s the walk up with ever-changing perspective on the desert that’s the real treat. I trust you’ll be describing some of the tremendous outdoors environment that’s outside your door there in Boulder, too. Thanks for visiting Under Western Skies.

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