12. Joshua Tree National Park, California

Days 30-33

While we were in Kanab I happened to pick up a magazine which included an article about The Seven Magic Mountains. These are an art installation on the edge of Vegas. They were on our route to Joshua Tree and we stopped by for a visit…

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We loved them but wow, at $3.5M they sure were expensive boulders!

After the Magic Mountains we headed to Joshua Tree National Park, which is in California (state no 7 for us). As we did so we passed the 3000 mile mark. It’s worth noting that I have yet to drive….apart from when I was at the wheel for exactly 1 mile in Moab – for a quick jaunt up the main street, while Ed was busy enjoying some beer…! Ed says he trusts me to drive – but he’s been very happy to drive so far… watch this space!

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The landscape was stunning – huge craggy boulders and the quirky Joshua Trees (so named as early settlers thought they looked like Joshua raising his arms to God)

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We set up camp but were told by the ranger not to hang anything from the trees or use hammocks. Joshua Trees, in spite of reaching heights of 20+ feet have roots that only go 18″ into the ground so they can be pulled over all too easily.

This was our first National Park campsite (as opposed to commercial sites, outside the park gates) and it was stunning. We loved the views, peace and quiet and the night time star gazing, which was excellent due to low light pollution. And it was amazing value at just $20 per night. The downside – and this is a big one for me – no showers. Joshua Tree NP is a desert so we had expected high temperatures but fortunately this did not turn out to be a problem.  It was so windy for virtually the whole of our visit we kept cool. Sadly the wind was too strong for our trusty sun shade…

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We took a walk into The Hidden Valley – which was beautiful and certainly was hidden – cattle rustlers used it to hide their stolen cattle.

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The kids loved climbing on the boulders.

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We paid a visit to Skull Rock.

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Different plants are found concentrated in different locations around the park – depending on altitude and rainfall. One section is home to a stunning Cactus “Garden”..

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And on our last night we were treated to a very memorable sunset – with just one giant cloud in the sky to reflect the colours of the setting sun..

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What Ed says: Joshua Tree, apart from being one of the best U2 albums, is a unique ecosystem and well worth a visit. We were visiting towards the end of the Parks’ busy season – in the summer temperatures become unbearable. While we were there the rangers were suggesting people hike no more than 4 mile as beyond that distance it’s not possible to carry enough water to stay hydrated! The sunny weather we had was perfect for generating solar power – so all our systems were fully charged and freezer was icy cold.  If visiting Joshua Tree again I would like to camp at Jumbo Rocks campsite. It’s deep inside the park, surrounding by huge boulders and would be very atmospheric.  It’s very primitive with drop loos only – no water, flushing loos or showers. The campsite we were on did have water and loos – but no showers – but fortunately we were able to pay to shower at a local store on the edge of the park.

The sun shade is now considered disposable item!!!!

Next Destination : San Diego, California.

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