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Exploring Joshua Tree National Park! UPDATE!!
January 19 @ 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Let’s go explore Joshua Tree National Park! So many cool things to see and do, and January is the perfect time to explore! There are visitor centers, a touring route, and hiking trails!
Here’s a UPDATE on Joshua Tree! I cruised up there last weekend to stake out our itinerary! Here it is!
We’re looking forward to our exploratory tour of Joshua Tree National Park!
On Sunday, we meet at Country Kitchen restaurant (61768 29 Palms Hwy, Joshua Tree) around 9:00am for a bite to eat and to pick up sandwiches for your mid-day munchies (there are no food facilities in the park). If Country Kitchen is busy, there are several other choices at the same intersection.
At 10:00, we’ll head around the corner (literally) to our official start at the Joshua Tree Visitor Center, where we’ll take a quick look at the exhibits, our itinerary, pick up a free map and head out around 1030.
We’ve structured the day so the group stays together for 3 main stops, and then folks can break into smaller groups and wander off for individual sight-seeing, hiking or whatever before meeting back in Joshua Tree for a late lunch. There’s so much to see and do here, that we encourage you to take note of the fun places you want to explore on the way south, and then go back to those places on your own on your way back.
Our first stop is about 20 miles into the park at Keys View. From this point, you can see some incredible views of the Coachella Valley, including the Salton Sea, Palm Springs, the San Andreas Fault, and other sites. Be prepared with a jacket, because it could be pretty windy up there at this 5,200 foot elevation. But the incredible views are worth it.
From Keys View we’ll head back downhill and go to the Hall of Horrors where we’ll explore for around 30 minutes or so.
Then we’ll head further south to the very cool Cholla Cactus Garden for around 30 minutes. There’s a great walking path around the garden.
From the Cactus Garden, you’re on your own to backtrack toward Joshua Tree over the same route and do some exploration of those sights you noted on the way down. You could drive straight back in about an hour, but we’re suggesting taking 2 hours or so to meet back at Pie for the People (61740 29 Palms Hwy) around 3:30 where we’ll enjoy some local pizza and ruminate about the day.
Sounds like fun!
– 2-way radios (there is NO cell service in the park!)
– a jacket (high temps should be in the 60s, but it could be windy at Keys View)
– sandwiches or snacks and water for mid-day munchies
– Park entrance fee is $30/car
– annual passes are accepted (such as Senior pass)
Updated schedule (see details above):
- Meet for a brunch in Joshua Tree around 9:00am.
- Visitor’s Center at 10:00
- Picnic lunch is an option (but bring your own)
- Follow the tour below until around 2:30.
- Regroup in Twenty-Nine Palms for a late lunch at 3:30
- @ 4:00- 4:30 – head home!
We’ll loosely follow this National Geographic suggested 1/2 day car tour:
” For a half-day visit starting from the park’s northern boundary, take the Park Boulevard loop either from the town of Joshua Tree through the West Entrance Station, or from Twentynine Palms, by way of the North Entrance Station. If the air is clear (ask at the entrance about haze conditions), take the 20-minute side trip to 5,185-foot-high Keys View, which overlooks a vast panorama of arid desert basin and range stretching south into Mexico. If you are starting from Joshua Tree, return to Park Boulevard and continue east over Sheep Pass to Jumbo Rocks, turning right (south) onto Pinto Basin Road for the drive down into long vistas in the Colorado Desert zone. Be sure to stroll the self-guided nature trails through the Cholla Cactus Garden and the Ocotillo Patch.
Backtrack to Twentynine Palms and the Oasis Visitor Center, which features a small cactus garden and superb desert ecology interpretive displays. It adjoins the historic Oasis of Mara (one of five spring-fed oases within the park’s boundaries), where Indians once found water, shade, food, and game. If you are starting from Twentynine Palms and the Oasis Visitor Center, proceed south as far as the Ocotillo Patch, then backtrack to Park Boulevard and follow it westward to Joshua Tree.”
see attached map to follow along!
There is a $30 per car entrance fee (good for 7 days). Bring a jacket! Daytime temperatures are around 60 degrees in January!