Tuesday, December 24, 2013

joshua tree national park


 

joshua tree national park is a relatively small park halfway between phoenix and los angeles, part mojave desert and part colorado desert. the colorado desert has a similar feel to the sonora desert, near our home, but the mojave desert is a whole different world. it's a climbers paradise, filled with more large boulders than you could climb in a lifetime, and a scene out of dr. seuss's imagination, with the famous joshua tree dotting the landscape everywhere you look.


 

as we drove up to the park, we saw the joshua trees all over the place, but we hadn't done our research, we thought they were just yucca plants so we enjoyed the view, but didn't take any pictures. (it turns out the joshua tree is a kind of yucca plant, so we were kind of right.) it wasn't until we arrived at the visitor's center that we realized our mistake. and by the time we'd set up our tent for the night, it was too late to go out and take pictures. instead, we soaked in the beautiful sunset.


joshua tree national park has free camping, but be sure to get there early, it fills up pretty fast. there are a  couple of different campsites throughout the park, but if you're interested in climbing or enjoying the joshua trees then you want to be sure to get a campsite in the northern part of the park (every campsite but cottonwood is in the northern part of the park). if you don't get a campsite, there's overflow camping, but it's in an open field with no wind cover and no bathrooms, and it looks pretty miserable for anyone without a camper or trailer to camp in.



it was so dark at night i thought i'd try to use my camera to capture some star trails, and i was kind of successful, but there's still a lot i don't know about my camera, and this was the best i could do. (maybe becoming more familiar with my camera is something i should do in 2014? put it on the list!)
 


  

 

 

the main reason we went to joshua tree was to climb, and we weren't the only ones; almost everyone we saw had a bouldering pad or climbing gear. as we drove along, rcg was a broken record (in a super cute way), "i could climb that. oh, and that. and that. or maybe that?" so we got up with the sun and headed to the hidden valley campground where a lot of the boulders were located. we spent most of the morning working on problems and climbing rocks. and it was a blast!

(the climbing guide we used is here, but there are tons of other sites that you could use to find good routes; look around and find what works best for you.)


 


can you see us? we're imitating the joshua tree.



instead of exiting the park where we came in, we decided to drive all the way through to reach the highway on the other side. and just when you thought the landscape would never change, joshua tree forests on both sides of the road, with large boulders in between, we stumbled upon "jumbo rocks", a veritable rock playground. we spent some time playing on the rocks and then headed on our way.






for more information about joshua tree, 
the climbing, camping, history, etc.,