Jan 13 2011

Joshua Tree Highlights

Aside from being a great album, I didn’t know much about Joshua Tree before heading here with my sisters.  But one of the things I’m loving about the West is proximity to hiking and national parks.  So after an easy 2.5 hr drive, we arrived just in time for sunset.  Thanks to the visitors map and Leslie’s narration, Maggie and I learned that Joshua Trees live mainly in the Mojave Desert and grow slowly – between 1-3” per year, which is pretty amazing to think about when you see them.

The desert landscape is amazing and intense.  This time of year, Joshua Tree is windy and chilly.  The ‘trees’, named by Mormons for their outstretched arms supposedly resembling a Biblical Joshua, dot the landscape creating a sparse-looking forest.

They all have quite a different look, and finding your favorite Joshua Tree seems to be a popular activity in the park.  Here’s one I took a liking to…

With numerous hikes to choose from, we opted for Ryan Mountain for it’s 360 degree views.  It was only 3 or so miles roundtrip but billed as one of the more difficult shorter hikes.  The most uncomfortable portion was the howling wind, which made us all wish we’d brought additional layers.  However, the views from the top were worth it.

We also did a shorter ‘nature trail’ hike to see Barker Damn, created in the early 1900s to provide water for grazing cattle.  Low rainfall prevented the cattle industry from thriving in such a barren landscape, but the water now attracts wildlife and birds.  We had fun jumping from boulder to boulder.

The whole experience was made cozy from our night at 29 Palms Inn – an adorable homey abode with its own restaurant, oasis and on site farm called Faultline Farm (the San Andreas fault lies under the area).  The rooms are stand alone cabins, most with wood burning fire places.

We had a wonderful stay and fun day exploring the area.  Here are the sisters, cold in Joshua Tree!