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 â€“ or Desert Queen Ranch â€“ 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 â€“ thatâ€™s the official summary. Hereâ€™s the reality â€“
We didnâ€™t have a long walk to get to the ranch from our parking spot, but to say the ranch was â€œremoteâ€ was quite the understatement.
Thanks to the recent rain (this area got over 4 inches â€“ quite a deluge for them), there was actually water flowing in the stream. Our ranger/guide said it was the first time he didnâ€™t have to say â€œimagine water running hereâ€¦.â€
Hereâ€™s the first view of the ranch â€“
The actual ranch house â€“
Windmill and well –
Hereâ€™s that stream again â€“
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.
Hereâ€™s one of the cabins â€“
It was a very interesting tour â€“ and it made me realize how very hardy and innovative the Keys family was. Someone lived at this ranch until 1969 and itâ€™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 1900â€™s with other area ranchers. I donâ€™t know if there is always water in this reservoir, but again thanks to last weekâ€™s rain, we were treated to some lovely water views. It was a great short hike â€“ really just perfect for our little group of 6.
(I loved the color on this one.)
And finally the reservoir â€“
Here we all are for the official â€œgroup shotâ€ â€“
We had a really fun day â€“ 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 CafÃ© 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!