Back in November we made our first foray into Joshua Tree National Park. It was a great day, and we knew we wanted to return. Today we finally made it back to check out a couple more sections of this fascinating park.
The Keys Ranch – or Desert Queen Ranch – Tour
The ranger-guided tour of the ranch includes the colorful story of the 60 years Bill and Frances spent working together to make a life and raise their five children in this remote location. The ranch house, school house, store, and workshop still stand; the orchard has been replanted; and the grounds are full of the cars, trucks, mining equipment, and spare parts that are a part of the Desert Queen Ranch story.Ok – that’s the official summary. Here’s the reality –
We didn’t have a long walk to get to the ranch from our parking spot, but to say the ranch was “remote” was quite the understatement.
Thanks to the recent rain (this area got over 4 inches – quite a deluge for them), there was actually water flowing in the stream. Our ranger/guide said it was the first time he didn’t have to say “imagine water running here….”
Here’s the first view of the ranch –
The actual ranch house –
Windmill and well –
Here’s that stream again –
These folks never threw anything away, and made their living any way they could think of. When the area became a national park, they opened a small store and even had a couple of cabins available for hardy travelers.
Here’s one of the cabins –
It was a very interesting tour – and it made me realize how very hardy and innovative the Keys family was. Someone lived at this ranch until 1969 and it’s a real testimony to the American Spirit.
Barker Dam Trail
From the Ranch we took a short drive over to the Barker Dam trailhead. William Keys helped with this dam in the early 1900’s with other area ranchers. I don’t know if there is always water in this reservoir, but again thanks to last week’s rain, we were treated to some lovely water views. It was a great short hike – really just perfect for our little group of 6.
(I loved the color on this one.)
And finally the reservoir –
Here we all are for the official “group shot” –
We had a really fun day – learned a little history, marveled at the ingenuity of man and the Masters’ creation around us, and finished it off with great lunch at the Crossroads Café in the town of Joshua Tree.
We still have about half of Joshua Tree National Park to explore, so I hope we’ll get a chance to do at least more excursion!