Joshua Tree National Park

October 30, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

                                                                                       JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK

This last summer was a strange time for me.  I was not very active in taking photos and only went on a couple of trips.  Mostly the last few months I have been sort of depressed and stayed around my home in Vock Canyon. 

So it was nice to get out on a road trip.  My friend John and I decided to spend a few days at Joshua Tree National Park (JTNP) in Southern California.  Most of our trips together have been the type where you hit several places over the course of a few days.  I left Vock Canyon early in the morning, headed to Kingman and I40.   Westward bound on I40, I decided to take the scenic route through Essex, California thus getting off the interstate as soon as possible.  Unfortunately, access to Essex Road was closed and blocked at three exits, probably due to road damage due to recent rain in the area.  Finally I decided to ignore the signs.  After passing through Essex enroute to Amboy, California, there were two bridges out, but luckily there were dirt turn-outs around the damage.  Arriving in Amboy, I then turned south toward Twentynine Palms, California, a town just outside the boundary of JTNP.

On a hunch I turned back to shoot the Amboy Crater although I've been a few times.  As I pulled into the parking lot, John was standing by his car.  We had planned to meet at the Motel 6 in Twentynine Palms, just outside Joshua Tree, but there he was.  After a bit at the crater, we left for Twentynine Palms and upon arrival checked into the Motel 6.

Over the next three full days, we visited most of the areas in the park to gawk and take some photos.  We went to Keys View overlook where we could see Palm Springs to the Southwest, Coachella Valley to the Southeast and the Salton Sea further southeast.  We saw rock climbers at Hidden Valley, one of my favorite places in the park.  Also at Hidden Valley we walked a one mile loop trail among some interesting rock formations.  Barker Dam was another place we went on a short one mile hike.  The dam was built by local ranchers in 1900 to catch rain and run-off water for their cattle ranch.  One of the rangers had told us that the best place in the park to perhaps see Bighorn Sheep was Barker Dam, but we did not see one.  The Skull Rock area was another interesting place.  There actually is a rock formation that vaguely resembles a skull.  We visited Skull Rock a couple of times and were fortunate enough one evening to get some really good light and cloud cover.  The Jumbo Rock campground was another good place we visited.  Jumbo Rock has a couple of JTNP iconic features, a balancing rock and a lone tree near a single rock monolith.  My favorite spot was the White Tank camping area.  It is the most off-world looking place in the park that we saw.  Maybe on my next trip to San Diego, I will camp there before heading out to San Diego and try to catch the morning and evening light.

One morning we took my new (actually used Jeep Cherokee) for a ride on the Geology Tour Road and part of the Berdoo Canyon Road.  The road leaves the pavement and is pretty wide and smooth for a few miles.  It then narrows quite a bit and by the time you reach Berdoo Canyon Road, it is a one-lane trail.  Immediately below is a video I shot with a dash cam of our trip down to the mouth of Berdoo Canyon where we did a u-turn and returned to the main part of the park.  The trip took us about 1.5 hours but the video is speeded up (8X).  It is about 11 mins in length and starts where the roads starts to narrow a bit and loops back to the pavement.

                                                      VIDEO OF GEOLOGY ROAD TOUR AND BERDOO CANYON ROAD 

As usual John and I have already talked about our next trip.  We will probably return to the Hawthorne, Nevada area and include an off-road trip from there to Bodie, California.


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