Monday, January 4, 2016

J is also for Joshua Tree National Park

Back at the beginning of 2013, our family was heading to Disneyland in California.  As I mapped out our route, I realized that we would go right by Joshua Tree National Park.  At that time, I hadn't added the exhaustive list of NPS sites to my Bucket List, but I loved exploring new landscapes.  I was also intrigued by the unique Joshua Tree, having grown up with the U2 album of the same name.  These trees have also been described as Seuss-like, so I was driven to see one up close and personal.  Incredibly, when I proposed the idea of taking a "small detour" on our way to southern California, Cristi agreed.

We set out early that morning and arrived at the south entrance of the park by lunchtime, where we cooked a picnic lunch of hot spam sandwiches at the Cottonwood Spring picnic area.  It was a bit chilly in the shade in January but not unbearable.

Picnicking at the Cottonwood Spring Picnic Area.  Note the use of the backpacking stove.
We were, of course, most interested in seeing the park's namesake, but apparently it is only found in one area of the park.  So, after lunch, we took the long park road northwest. What we found along the way was a desert wonderland of both beautiful and bizarre rock formations, including desert mountains, what appeared to be enormous piles of rock off by themselves, and a forest of cholla cactus (also called teddy bear cactus because of its deep desire to "cuddle" or jumping cholla because it practically jumps off the plant itself and onto you).

In the northern part of the park, we also came to Jumbo Rocks.  Here, Brennan seized the opportunity to climb and pose. 

Skull Rock was nearby as well, and since we were on our way to Disneyland, it conjured up images of the Skull Rock from Pooh's Grand Adventure.

It was also here that we finally discovered the elusive Joshua Tree.  It was beautiful and majestic in a desert plant sort of way, while also simultaneously very Seuss-like with its "hairy" trunk and spines at the ends of the branches.  We marveled at how these strange plants were only found in this part of the Mojave Desert and what made it special -- a similar question to why Saguaro cacti are only found in the Sonoran Desert around Tucson when it's all "desert".

Alas, we didn't find the famed U2 Joshua Tree, but I'm told it was located in a remote part of the park only accessible to hikers but also that it has died and fallen over in the near-20 years since the picture was taken.  Still, this park provided another window into the uniqueness of the North American landscape, even compared to other desert environments, and the beauty of even a barren wilderness.

Blogging Through the Alphabet” style=


  1. I love your pictures they turned out beautiful. I may have to take a trip out there with my family one day. It looks wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

  2. So glad to know someone else enjoys Spam :-)

  3. Spam is a bit of a picnicking staple for our family. Between picky eaters and one with a lot of food restrictions, everyone ends up happy when we fry Spam.