Joshua Tree is a desert oasis.
The more I look back on these pictures and think of driving through the park I’m reminded of the odd and stunning beauty that this patch of desert holds. When Beth and I were looking at all of the scenery I found myself repeating “this looks like another planet, or a movie set”. Being able to see a landscape that I’ve never seen in real life before was completely marvelous. One of my favorite things about visiting national parks is hitting up the history behind it and learning how they came about, what makes them national park worthy and learning more about the history behind it. The Joshua Tree National Park is actually two desert ecosystems meeting in the middle (WWHHATTT?!?!). The Mojave and the Colorado dessert merge within this park and they bring two very different landscapes, plants, and animals along with it; and trust me you notice a difference between the two park entrances! I actually learned on this trip that the Joshua Tree name came from the mormon immigrants living in the area who thought the tree resembled Joshua; I found it super interesting that they felt an individuals appearance strongly resembled this tree. You can read more about what a Joshua Tree is, it’s purpose, and the history here.
A few tips to remember if you’re planning a trip to Joshua Tree:
1. This is not a pet friendly place. With all of the cactus, wildlife, and dangers your pet could be seriously injured or injure something else.
2. BRING LOTS OF WATER. Especially if you are going in the warmer months as the park averages only 25% humidity. You can get dehydrated easily and there are not many places in the park (if any) to stop and buy food and drink.
3. Do NOT feed the wildlife. Keep the wildlife wild.
4. There is so much to explore, if you’re a hiker, bird watcher, star gazer – this will be such a joy for you! Make sure you plan out the places you want to see as the park is vast and make it happen!
This entrance is further north (obviously) and is definitely more desert when you enter. There was a small visitors center off to the right of the road before you enter the park but it was closed when we went in (it was around 5-530PM). There is not much near this area other than the visitors center so you’ll want to check times to see when it’s open for that last minute bathroom break and to get any maps you may require.
This is the main entrance to the park. There is a visitors center with gift items and hiking trails, and rangers to speak to about the park. It’s in the center of downtown Joshua Tree so it’s the best place to grab some food/drink/restrooms before heading into the park itself. Since this is the more popular entrance it can get super crowded and backed up. When we went (during the off season and on a week day) there was a small little line of cars and since I am a National Park Pass Holder we were able to just hang up the pass and go into the pass holder line and get into the park more quickly.
Now a quick little blurb on Pioneertown.
This was actually recommended to us by our Airbnb Hosts to check out. This is probably one of the coolest hidden gems in the desert area! It’s an Old West Town built in the 1940s as a movie set that filmed more than 50 films and tv shows during the 1940s and 1950s! Now it’s home to some local shops, a restaurant, and it looks like the do some live shows. When Beth and I went there was only the pottery store open but I think that’s because it wasn’t a weekend and nothing was really planned; I imagine it’s a lot more busy and lively on a weekend.