Having to be in San Diego the week of June 2, I opted to fly out early (actually bypassed home for the weekend) and spend the weekend at Joshua Tree National Park. I arrived in San Diego about 7:30 Friday evening and then drove over to Palm Desert, CA which is just about a half hour drive from the park.
Saturday morning I headed into the park just taking the drive from the West Entrance Station through the park to the south entrance. I stopped for pictures at several places and took a couple of short hikes. Scoped out a slightly bigger hike for Sunday. Can’t figure out why people want to live in the middle of the desert – it was 90 degrees at 9am and 108 by the time I got back to the hotel. At least the part is a bit cooler due to it’s higher elevation – temperature peaked in the low 90s.
Sunday morning I headed back to the park via the opposite route – things always look different the other way ’round. I stopped for a short hike through the Cholla Cactus Garden. These are also called Teddy Bear and Jumping Cholla. They look soft from a distance, but in fact are comprised of roughly inch long brittle spikes. If there is any doubt as to the true nastiness of these guys, watch this clip from the Saguaro National Park episode of Motion.
My primary objective for the day was to hike Ryan Mountain which offers views of the surrounding valleys within the park. It’s just a 3 mile round trip, but the first half up to the peak is an elevation gain of about 1,000 ft. It wasn’t too bad, and definitely worth the effort.
After the hike, it was out of the park through the North Entrance Station at 29 Palms which was a route I hadn’t yet covered and back to the hotel to just relax.