After a pleasant evening spent in Desert Palms, CA, (where it was much warmer), we got up and headed into the south entrance of Joshua Tree National Park. This park covers two different types of terrain. In the southern entrance where we came in, it is strictly desert. As we headed north, more ridges and hills began and the elevation started to go up. I had already been to this park one other time where we spent the day doing all the obvious stops. There was one trail I wanted to go on but we ran out of time. This time I managed to not get too distracted, and we made it to the Hidden Valley trail. We only had the morning to enjoy our time here because we were joining my sister-in-law for dinner in Arizona where we were spending the last few days of our trip.
There is a distinct difference between the boulders in this park compared to what we saw on yesterday’s hike up in the mountains of the Mojave Preserve (read here). It’s hard to believe anything can exist when you look at how rounded all the boulders are with no sharp corners, and as we got closer, the seemingly smooth rocks were very pitted. February is a great time to come to this park although it was extremely windy the morning we started out. On our way to the Hidden Valley trail, we stopped at skull rock.
We had to get out of the car to see it, but it requires no real hiking. We went ahead and hiked a small trail around Skull Rock enjoying the unique landscape. The area did give me a skeletal feeling where many of the boulders reminded me of a huge, giant backbone strewn around.
I do want to warn anyone that plans to come here that this park is huge and you can easily spend a lot of time here. At the very least be sure to drive the entire park because the scenery does change as the elevation changes. There is a very nice overlook where it felt like I could see forever, but that was on a prior trip.
The Hidden Valley trail is a short one-mile nature hike where we hiked up a brief hill through some stone stairs and back down into a bowl-shaped area. This was great for us because it protected us from the winds, and we could really enjoy the trail and explore the entire area.
This is the view from the top of the hill looking back at the parking lot. All the Joshua Trees in the distance are an indication of the elevation we were at because they only start growing at 1300 ft. elevation. In the southern, lower elevation area of the park, we did not see any Joshua Trees.
This beautiful Joshua Tree was inside the valley. This valley was rumored to be used by cattle rustlers, and it was easy to imagine the cattle milling around since there is a nature stone fence all around this small area.
I love this picture, and it gives a good view of the natural stone fence in the background. I will leave you with my last two shots I wanted to share because green things stand out in this harsh land!