Tuesday, October 12, 2021

"I go to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my sense put in order." -- John Burroughs

We stopped at two Visitor's Centers at Joshua Tree National Park Monday.  Unusual, in that both were outside of the main park and they were only 30 miles from each other.

We drove 20 minutes to the town of Joshua Tree and entered through the Joshua Tree Visitor's Center.  We did our usual first day drive-through of a large portion of the park and exited at the Twenty Nine Palms Oasis Visitor's Center.  It was not even 10 minutes from our campground, Twentynine Palms RV Resort and Cottages.

This park is a rock climbers delight with most stops having areas to climb.  Our  nephew Ben is a rock climber.  I wonder if he's been here?  Most offer paths and boulders for non-climbers to play on too.

The Ranger was asking people to stay off of the peaks today due to the 65 mph winds.

Mural by Robert Hynes (2016) gives a glimpse way into the past when it wasn't  desert here. It shows how climate change, through time, can alter the landscape and what lives there.

Our first stop questioned "Barren or Bountiful?" What do you see, a stark, barren land or a diverse ecosystem?  I got out of the car just to see if it was a path we would want to come back for.  Instead, I went back and got Pat to walk part of it today to try and answer that question.

Paths aren't as clear in the desert.  Most are marked with rock borders but the rocks are often sparsely spaced.

Red Amaranth 

Bladder Sage

Mojave Yucca on the left and California Juniper on the right.

Of course, the Joshua Tree was plentiful.  They aren't actually trees but belong to the Yucca genus.  They are a water storing succulent.

Teddy-bear Cholla

We left the path unfinished to come back another day.  We started out without supplies. They always stress, especially in hot areas such as the desert, to take water and drink plenty.  Pat told me he heard a gallon an hour here!  I couldn't imagine anyone carrying, or able to drink that much.  Looked it up tonight,  A GALLON PER DAY!🤣  Felt better about that.

Here on May 27, 1999 a storm sparked 4 lightning fires starting the largest fire in Joshua Tree's history.

Hemingway Buttress

Hemingway Buttress offers rock climbers fine-lined climbs and paths for rapelling.  We got to see some climbers.  

These pinyon pines present the only woodland forest found in the park.

Intersection Rock is one of the most noticeable rocks in the park.  Like many others it draws rock climbers on the North Overhang.

Across from Intersection Rock is Hidden Valley Campground. 

Our snack destination was up high.

Despite Pat's encouragement? my back, knees, and arm did not take me to his expectations.

This was as far as I got.  Still a pretty view!

I won't go into detail but the rock here highlights the changes the area has gone through over it's lifetime. 

This area is known as The Real Hall of Horrors. Lots of rocks to climb around on.  Also a good spot for actual rock climbers.

It wasn't far but I climbed up to a little cubby spot.

Sheep Pass is where the Bighorn sheep travel between watering holes.

Jumbo Rocks

Skull Rock

No thanks!

Hedgehog Cactus
A garden at the Visitor's Center had native plants. 

Parry's Nolina

It's a little warmer in Twenty Nine  Palms but not much.  Should be cool during the days and cold at night for the remainder of our stay. 

Pat liked their Social Distancing sign, "Observe wildlife rules...but with people"!

Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, founded in 1940, was across from the Oasis Visitor's Center. 

A paved path behind had a series of plaques that told the legend of "Carlotta and Will,"  an artwork by Lewis deSoto.  They were in love but a marriage was not acceptable to Carlotta's family.  The legend reminded us of Romeo and Juliette. 

Barrel Cactus

The Oasis of Mara, historic Indian site.

Carlotta's father is accidently killed by Will.  A posse is sent out in search of Will and Carlotta who have run off together.  The night before Carlotta was shot and killed by the posse she had a dream about a coyote.  Will kills himself in the end.

 Mind you, other than the butterfly and a skink we had seen NO wildlife here.  Right after we read the plaque about the dream though, a Coyote ran across the path right in front of us into the oasis.  It was very freaky!  Made you think it was some kind of animation set up to go with the story. 

Our auto tour was completed.  Some of these spots will be revisited in more detail over the next week.  Plus, I have a few places outside of the park I hope I can talk Pat into seeing.
Where are the Piepers now? Twenty Nine Palms, CA.


  1. I've wanted to visit Joshua Tree area. It's famous in the music world because of the death of Gram Parsons.

    1. I had to look that one up. Didn't recognize the name but should have. Also hadn't heard or read anything about this until now. Check out the next post,as there's at least picture of Cap Rock. Maybe we'll go there today and check out the trail. We were here in 2001 too. I finally narrowed down where we camped last time. Thanks for the info!