I’m always down to explore one of our beautiful National Parks, but Joshua Tree National Park is one that’s been on my bucket list for years. Mostly because the Joshua Tree looks like it grew straight out of a Dr. Seuss book, I won’t lie, and also because this desert scene is something brand new to me.
Growing up in Boulder, Colorado, I’ve been spoiled with sweeping mountain views my entire life; and though views of the Rocky Mountains certainly never get old, there’s something about the desert landscape that just gets me. Maybe it’s the vast, wide-openness that calls to my adventurous side, or the fact that I’m slightly obsessed with cacti (even though I definitely backhanded a cholla cactus… twice). That my parents raised me with an insatiable desire to see, do and learn is definitely a factor 😉
Regardless of the reason, four of us flew to Los Angles, drove 2.5 hours east into the desert, and descended on Joshua Tree National Park for a mere 30 hours. Now, that’s not really enough time to see the entire park, so we picked out our top spots and hit as many as we could, and I’m already planning my next trip back!
Top Sites in Joshua Tree National Park
- Our first stop in Joshua Tree National Park was the Cholla Cactus Garden, a .25-mile loop through thousands of naturally growing cholla cactus! You’ll want to wear closed-toes shoes, and stay on the trail… fun facts about these cholla babies: they’re also called “jumping cholla” because the spines break off easily and instantly stick to anything that brushes up against them, and the barbed needles to curve are extremely painful to remove.
- At our second stop, we walked the 1-mile loop around Hidden Valley. It was a fairly easy hike with tons of rocks to climb and great sites along the way. The valley itself is stunning, surrounded by massive rock walls and filled with Joshua Trees and cacti.
- We watched the sun set over the Coachella Valley from Keys View, and it was unfortunately super cloudy. And super windy. And super cold. So we didn’t stay too long. I have a feeling that the 3-mile hike up Ryan Mountain would also offer spectacular views!
- The next morning we came back to watch the sunrise and it was, as expected, completely breathtaking. While Keys View or Ryan Mountain (if you can hike in the dark) would be amazing to watch the sunrise as well, we just pulled off to the side of the road and had a perfect view.
- Of course, we couldn’t leave without climbing around on some of the massive rocks strewn throughout the park!
And I already have a few ideas in mind for the next trip back 😉 stay tuned!