Last Fall John and I visited Joshua Tree National Park (JTNP) in Southern California and we really liked it so we decided another trip was in order to see some of the park we missed on our first visit and to revisit some of the places within the park that we had previously found interesting. We decided to meet at Kelso Dunes in the Mohave National Preserve just north of JTNP.
I went over a day early and camped out at Kelso Dunes inside the Mojave National Preserve in hopes of getting some shots of the night sky. I was expecting dunes similar to the Imperial Dunes in California just west of Yuma, Arizona, but the Kelso Dunes have much more vegetation on them. That evening I met a young Marine named Brett who was just out exploring the area. His next stop was the New York Mountains northeast of Kelso Dunes where he was going to spend the night before returning to the Marine base in 29 Palms the next day.
My intent was to shoot the Milky Way at Kelso Dunes that night. At midnight there were still some clouds in the sky so I went to sleep and did not wake up until the sun was just beginning to rise so I missed the dark sky.
That morning John soon showed up. We walked out toward the dunes from the parking lot and took a few pictures. It was not long before we headed for the Motel 6 in 29 Palms.
In the evening we went to the Jumbo Rocks campsite in JTNP - we refer to that area as the Marble. Along with White Tank campground, it one of our two favorite places in JTNP. The light was good and we split up to wander around shooting pictures. We saw a Horned Owl perched on a ledge of a massive rock that are common in JTNP. Unfortunately neither of us had a long enough lens to capture the owl.
The next morning our destination was Indian Cove. It is a part of JTNP but is accessed west of the main northern entrance to the park. The light was OK and there was not much cloud cover, which made for less than ideal conditions. But as John says, "shoot what is there". That evening we went to the White Tank campground which is my favorite place in the park. It has the most eerie rock formations of any area in the park and the light was very good. Someday I would like to camp out there for a night or so and just shoot that area but soon it will be too hot camping in the desert, at least for me. It does not bother me much to walk around the desert during the summer days but sleeping out when hot just does not agree with me. Maybe sometime in the Fall.
On Tuesday morning we drove my Jeep down through Berdoo Canyon. On our last trip we drove to the upper mouth of the canyon but this trip decided to go all the way through the Canyon. It was an interesting ride with only a couple of rough spots that were easily navigated.The trail through Berdoo Canyon ends near the Love's truck stop on Interstate 10 in Indio, California. I always stop for gas there when traveling between Kingman and San Diego.
That evening we visited the Hall of Horrors in JTNP. On our last trip we made stopped at the Hall of Horrors but decided to return on this trip as we had not explored the area much back then. We could not figure out why they called it the Hall of Horrors.
On our last day in the park we revisited Hidden Valley and Keys View. Hidden Valley is an area of about 55 acres that is surrounded by roughly circular series of rock formations. Dynamite was used by a rancher to gain access to the valley and the area was once used by cattle and horse rustlers from Arizona to graze the stolen animals before selling them.
Along Eastern Edge of Hidden Valley
Later in the late afternoon we drove out to Keys View on the western side of the park. From this overlook, you can see Palm Springs, the Coachella Valley and off to the southeast, the Salton Sea. We wanted to get a sunset shot but the sky just did not cooperate with us. There was also a pretty good sized crowd there to view the sunset and sometimes people get in the way of shooting photographs. There was a group of visitors from another country whose language I did not understand. One of the fellas threw a rock over the steep edge of the mountain edge. I had to yell at him for doing so. He had no sense at all.
We have decided that our next trip will be based out of Kingman. John will come down and we will visit areas in Arizona from Sedona to the Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area.