Joshua Tree National – Part One

Disclaimer –
Beautiful place + Beautiful day = lots of pictures.
JoshuaTreeNP-2We tackled part of Joshua Tree National Park on Saturday. (It’s a VERY BIG park, with lots to see, so we decided to do it in stages. We’ll be in this area later this season, so watch for more about JTNP in the weeks and months to come!). When I mentioned to a dear young friend that we were going to be near Joshua Tree, she replied, “I LOVE Joshua Tree! That is some of the best rock climbing anywhere!”. Well, did you know that? And I thought it was just about Joshua Trees! Who Knew? (well, among us non-rock climbing oldsters, anyway!) We did some driving, a little hiking and a lot of picture taking! The desert was beautiful with it’s surrounding mountains and monzogranite rock piles. We went from being surrounded by rocks to driving across a dry lake. And then there was the drive home….but that’s for later!
So come along for our drive and hike through the park – Keep your eye out for those rock climbers!
(Look closely – I bet you didn’t see ALL the folks on that rock!)
We saw this fellow sunning himself on a rock, and he even let me get pretty close before he scurried away.
(Just so you know – he’s a Western Fence Lizard)
There was a drive to an overlook, where if there hadn’t been a layer of smog, we could have seen Palm Springs –
and looking the other way, the shore of Saltan Sea
We decided to take the Geology Road Tour because it looked pretty interesting and it involved a dirt road. You KNOW how we feel about dirt road adventures!
This is the dry lake I was talking about (with the road we came down on hugging the mountain on the right)
At this point in our day we had a decision to make. Do we go back the way we came and continue on through the park, or do we take that dirt road on the map that gets us closer to where we wanted to end up for the day. Now the road sign did say things like “unmaintained” and “4 wheel drive required”, but it didn’t have words in it like “grade” or “shelf” or “pass”. Our trusty truck has 4 wheel drive and after all it was called Berdoo Canyon Road. Canyon. Seemed safe enough. So off we went!
It started out nice and level, and pretty much like the dirt road that had been part of the geology drive. But soon we were getting into the “canyon” part of the drive!
And soon we were beginning to understand the “4 Wheel Drive Required”.
This picture is looking back up that incredible stretch of “road” –
and I’m happy to report that the skid plate in the dirt belonged to someone else.
We thought we were out of the worst, but hey, we still had miles to go….
(again, someone else’s inside wheel well cover. Phew!)
This fellow led us down the road for almost a mile. I took lots of other picture of our coyote friend, but due to all the bouncing, this is the only one that came out remotely clear!
As we came closer to the end (we did have a GPS with us that was helpful in letting us know how much farther, but not very helpful in knowing where the road actually was!), we suddenly were on macadam!
We thought that was a good thing, but the problem with macadam is that when it disappears (due to being washed out by flooding) it stops pretty abruptly and with a big drop off.
(I confess this isn’t so much a picture of the drop off as it is of where it starts again – with about a 12″ rise.)
Gary did a SPECTACULAR job driving. A couple of times he even had to get out to make a plan to get through the maze of rocks in the narrow canyon. We never hit once (trust me, that’s amazing), and I never yelped or gasped (even more amazing!).
We did finally make it to the end of that canyon road, and back to at least a promise of civilization.

And the best thing was that we KNEW that when we did get back to civilization, THIS would be our prize –

JoshuaTreeNP-62 JoshuaTreeNP-63

What a Great Day we had!

PS – I know this will be a surprise, but if you would like to see more pictures of rocks and blue sky (oh, and a couple of the windmill farm we passed on our way to the park), you can check them all out HERE!

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