Joshua Tree National Park is well-loved by people in Southern California and it’s famous for its stars. Mr. Misadventures and I spent a long weekend in Palm Springs in 2011 and visited the park but didn’t spend a ton of time checking out every nook and cranny.
Joshua Tree had seemed to elude my hubby, we had thought to visit when we were staying at Borrego Springs but it was just too far a drive. We were glad when we were planning our return trip West and North to get to Portland that we could schedule two weeks in the park.
We captured sunrises, sunsets and one evening of star photography. The weather wasn’t exactly cooperative during our time at Joshua Tree, but we made the best of it. There was also a ton of people there over the holiday but we were alone for sunrises, just the way we like it!
We did two of those sunrises at Barker Dam. It’s a hiking trail, and as you can probably guess by the name, it leads to a man-made dam built by a rancher named Barker. In the winter water collects and the reflection of the rocks in the water is pretty.
The first sunrise we did it was windy and stormy so the hubby didn’t like his photos. But when we finished the hike I loved the drama the weather provided as a backdrop to the Joshua trees.
We returned a few days later and were rewarded with this.
A few nights later we did sunset again. A seven-minute sunset(!) in the Jumbo Rocks campground to get this guy. A bowling ball nuzzled into other rocks which we took from the amphitheater.
The previous afternoon we’d come to photograph a juniper/rock combo that Mr. Misadventures had spotted in another photographer’s blog post. He was enamored and would not rest until he found this tree! We went searching for it in the pouring rain but could not find it. Turns out the GPS coordinates were incorrect.
After more research, he got new coordinates and off we went. There is no cell service in the park so we used offline maps and a GPS app to locate it. Once you know where it is, it’s super easy, but finding it without help sucks!
So if you ever want to take a similar photo, go to the Jumbo Rocks Campgrounds and find sites 19 and 20. When you get there, look up and there you are! Duh!
Finding the arch nature trail at the back of White Tank Campgrounds, however, is easy. We visited a couple of days and walked the short trail. We also wandered off-trail into the canyons and had fun climbing around the canyons and rocks. When we finally circled back round to the arch trail the only way to access it was getting through this crack. It was tight but we made it!
Our last morning we headed further south into the park to do sunrise at the Cholla Cactus Garden. If you enter the Cottonwood Springs park entrance from the I-10 freeway it’s the first “main attraction” you’ll see, but there isn’t much else except the entrances to off-road 4×4 trails. However, the gardens are worth the trip out there. If you are a photographer or have a photographer in your life just be very careful as everywhere you step or turn there is a cactus to run into or step on!
We returned to the arch for our last night in the park to do star photography. It was pretty fun to climb onto the shelf across from the arch and make camp. I had my handy-dandy REI chair, hot miso and the stars to entertain me while the hubby clicked away.
There are plenty of trails and climbs, campgrounds and picnic areas to keep you well entertained for any length of stay. And with its close proximity to San Diego, Los Angeles, and Palm Springs, I’m not surprised that Joshua Tree National Park is so popular. I feel blessed to have been able to explore so much.
How about you? Have you visited Joshua Tree National Park? What was your favorite part? If not, have I inspired you to think about it?
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