We had our first visit to Joshua Tree National Park on Monday and we were back again yesterday!. It was so beautiful.
On Monday we came in at the south park entrance and went to the Visitor Center, as we usually do, in order to pick up the park map and newspaper. We soon discovered why we had not seen any Joshua Trees on the way in, only Mojave Yuccas. The Joshua Trees just do not grow in the southern part of the park.
We were so pleased that we did come into the South as the scenery of the desert mountains was breathtaking.
On our progression North we also encountered areas where certain plants thrived and then just as quickly disappeared from the terrain.
There was also great variety in the terrain itself. Initially it looks as though we were driving through a series of rock piles albeit hundreds of feet tall. Then there were areas of massive boulders that had been eroded and smoothed before being thrust upwards.
There are plenty of pull-offs with Exhibits which provide a good explanation of the landscape and mans’ influence.
The Joshua Trees were fantastic. We did find some of the best were off the main road on unpaved roads or even 4 wheel drive only roads (Snowflake really came into her own on these).
We left the park on a 4 wheel drive, high clearance vehicle track that provided a very exciting drive for us back to Tigger.
Yesterday we entered the park from the , initially a similar landscape, the massive rock piles, but then it was dramatically different. No desert mountain panoramas to feast our eyes on, but more localized views. However, Keys Viewpoint provided a very unique 180 degree vista from the Salton Sea at 235 feet below sea level through Palm Springs to Bighorn Mountain.
We also really enjoyed the Hidden Valley Loop nature trail. This was an almost circular area of various types of vegetation completely encircled by rock cliffs. The entrance was about two feet wide and the area had been used by cattle rustlers to conceal their captive herds.
Gear: Nikon D800; Nikkor 80.0-400.0mm F/4.5-5.6 VRIII; Lexar Digital Film; iPhone 6