I first fell in love with Joshua Tree National Park on Instagram, which, if you think about it, is basically Tinder for travelers and nomads worldwide.
I was in the market for a good time and a fun adventure, and thanks to Instagram, I found Joshua (Tree) who was there to help satisfy my wants and needs.
As I began scrolling through travel photos pondering my next trip, I discovered Joshua (Tree) for the first time and fell in love with his beauty. The photo of him was gorgeous; the lighting was perfect, the filter was just right and the emotion was real. Joshua (Tree) made me feel something and I longed to experience his beauty in person.
But, as I began to research Joshua (Tree) and learned more about him, I started to wonder if he was really as beautiful in person as he was in that photo. I mean, how could something be so beautiful when it’s forced to survive extremely hot temperatures on a limited water supply? The doubts crept in and I began to feel like it was too good to be true.
After deciding the risk was worth the potential disappointment, I decided to visit Joshua (Tree) in person. When I arrived, I was completely dumbfounded to find that he was even more beautiful in person.
Let me just say this; the photos of Joshua Tree National Park do not do this place justice.
I was immediately in awe of my surroundings when I arrived to the park. Right as I pulled up to the Joshua Tree Visitor Center, I saw a group of three Bighorn Sheep (or “Bitcoin” Sheep as my friend likes to say) gallivanting through the rugged landscape. After entering the park, I was pleasantly greeted by the powerful rock formations towering behind the never-ending fields of Joshua Trees. I was savoring every moment with Joshua (Tree) and we had only just met!
After a full day of exploring Joshua (Tree), I fell in love with more than just his beauty. I loved how he made me feel like I was the most important woman in the world (or just like the only one in the park).
Though my love affair with Joshua (Tree) was short lived, the memories I shared with Joshua (Tree), my husband and my friends will last a lifetime. I encourage each of you to experience Joshua (Tree) for yourself and explore all he has to offer!
Below are my favorite spots in the park. Also, be sure to keep scrolling for a list of tips/reminders before you visit!
As always, this blog is based on my own personal experiences/opinions.
My Top 5 Favorite Spots in the Park
- Quail Creek
This was our first stop because it was close to the entrance of the park. Compared to some of my other favorite stops, there was more foot traffic here. I didn’t mind it though, because there was enough room for people to spread out and enjoy the area. Some people snapped photos, some rock climbed (with ropes), some casually hopped from rock to rock in hopes of climbing to the top (without any kind of rope), and some sat under the Joshua Trees to eat lunch. The large formations were fun to climb and the views were spectacular. As I stood on top of the boulders, I stared out into the fields overwhelmed by the amount of trees. I was in awe of the endless view.
After we parked and hopped out of the car, we saw a couple different dirt paths leading towards large boulder formations. As we walked along the Hemingway path, I admired the bold formations that towered over me. They were so spectacular that I almost confused them with a small mountain range. During our time here, the clouds played hide and seek, moving in and out of the area, altering the look and feel of the boulders. In the shadows, the boulders looked even more dramatic, with their shadows dancing around us. In this spot, I felt immersed in the scenery.
- Cholla Cactus Garden
When I first noticed the catci, I did not realize what they were. As I casually mentioned to my husband and friends that the things outside of our window looked like cute little trees, the Cholla Cactus Garden sign appeared and I realized they were not trees, after all. When we got out of the car and walked through the garden, they actually looked more like sea urchins than anything. Multi-colored and pointy, there was something playful about them. The sea of brown, tan and yellow cacti was a nice highlight in that part of the park. The area was a lot more “desert” looking than where we entered the park and the cacti gave it some color. Do pay attention to where you’re walking though, as there are fallen cacti in the garden and they can stick to your shoes and clothes.
- Mastodon Peak
When we began the hike, we walked past a group of voluptuous palm trees that lead to a sandy trail. This spot felt slightly less “desert” and slightly more “beachy” (without the water). After walking about 0.7 miles with a minor incline, we decided to take the Mastadon Loop trail uphill through the steep rock formations and toward the abandoned mine. When we reached the top of the incline, we found rusted metal structures with caution signs warning us to stay out of the mine. As we peeked through the metal, we saw an opening that extended far into the depths of the ground and understood why the caution signs were pestering us. After we checked out the mine, we continued walking and were gifted with more stunning views of beautiful formations and wildlife including some rabbits with huge ears (jackrabbits?) munching on their dinner.
- Skull Rock
This spot was a fun place for a photo op. As you near the “skull”, you realize just how huge it is and how small you feel when standing near it. This viewpoint was full of people but was too unique to drive past without stopping.
For more information on the park, check out my list of tips and reminders to help you prepare for your visit:
-Entrance to the park costs $30 for a standard car or $15 per person by foot. There is a military discount available.
-Bring lots and lots of water! There are only 6 water locations listed on the map and most are on the edge of the park. The one at Oasis Visitor Center (in Twentynine Palms) was a few miles outside of the park. When we went to fill up at Cottonwood Visitor Center, we found that there were no designated water fountains. Instead, you were to use the bathroom sinks to fill up your water bottles. For me, drinking water from a faucet that’s been touched by tons of filthy hands is not very appealing…So, come prepared!
-There is very limited cell service in the park. We got a bar or two at the top of a mountain peak but it went away quickly and was very spotty.
-Restrooms are not marked on the map you’ll receive at the entrance, but there are multiple restrooms throughout the park at different locations including Quail Creek and Hemingway.
-We encountered many lizards throughout the entire park (some larger than others). So, don’t be surprised if/when you see things shuffling past you!
-To get to Lost Horse Mine Trail, you will have to go on a dirt/sand path for a few minutes so be prepared as some cars don’t handle this terrain as well as others. Also note that we were unable to access the bathroom here due to an excess of bees in front of the door.
-There are no drones allowed in the park. The fine is $180.
-Pets are not allowed on trails. Due to the heat, it’s probably best to leave them at home anyway.