Thursday, March 3, 2016

Joshua Tree National Park

Another road trip with Claudia and Mike.  Destination:  Joshua Tree National Park.   The park lies within two distinct desert lands, the Colorado Desert (which is part of the larger Sonoran Desert) and the Mojave Desert, whose ecological systems are entirely different.


We started our visit by hiking at Cottonwood Spring, originally inhabited by Cahuilla Indians, who lived off the vegetation of these lands.  You can still see remnants of their pottery and holes in rocks where they ground/pulverized mesquite beans (part of the pea family) into flour.  The fan palm trees are enormous here, with trunks more than three feet in diameter!  And the yuccas are all in various stages of bloom.

Fan Palm Trees

A yucca in bloom

This yucca hasn't opened up yet


Look, up on that rock—it’s a chuckwalla sunbathing!  That’s one huge lizard!  His patches of copper and sand coloring make him blend in so well with the rock formations.

This is "Actual Size"!  No Zoom Lens Here!


The desert floor is carpeted with wildflowers!  Yellow brittlebush, white dune primrose, and a pretty purple flower whose name I do not know all dot the landscape.



On to the Cholla Cactus Garden.  Why do they call a species of cholla Jumping Teddy Bears?  Trust me, there is nothing cuddly about them with their prickly needles!

As we traverse further down the road, the rock formations, terrain, and plant life change—evidence we entered the portion of the park that lies within the Mojave Desert.  Here’s where the actual Joshua trees live! 



And check out this funky “skull” rock!

While the four “geezers” take a lunch break, I hike and play among the boulders whose visual characteristics lend to the name "Split Rock."

Rambling RV Rat at Split Rock


Lots of "splits" in these rocks

We hike some more after lunch, taking in Barker Dam, built circa 1900 to hold water for cattle and mining use, and Hidden Valley, a legendary cattle rustlers’ hideout.  Here folks are rock climbing.  I want to join them, but my Mom put the kibosh on my adventurous plan.  Instead I watch a couple of romantic lizards giving me a lesson on “the birds and bees”.


Barker Dam


Barker Dam


Hidden View


Hidden View


Romance Among Lizards

From Keys View, at an elevation of 5,185 feet, we could see Desert Palms, Palm Springs, even the San Andreas Fault.

Keys View


There is so much more to see here at Joshua Tree National Park.  Although we saw signs of wildlife, including poop, footprints, and holes, we didn’t get any photo ops.  And I still haven’t seen a desert tortoise!   But alas, dusk is upon us and the park will be closing.  Time to return to Quartzsite. It sure was a fun day! 

I’ll sign off now—I find myself nodding off in the back seat of Mike’s car.  Talk to you soon!






1 comment: