April 24th – April 27th, 2016
I took a vacation on my birthday in 2016 all by myself. I bought some new camping gear and planned a week-long road trip to Southern California. I drove down highway 395 reliving all those childhood memories from family road trips to San Diego. Finally, I branched out through Barstow and the Mojave Desert until snaking my way in between the San Bernardino Mountains before the forest turned to into the funny shaped trees. This page details the Joshua Tree National Park portion of my trip.
Gotta Get to Blackrock
The first stop on the road trip to Joshua Tree National Park was at Blackrock Canyon Campground in the northwestern corner of the park. I drove directly there from Lake Tahoe so it was a very long day. The sun was setting behind the mountain as I set up my tent for the night. It was also extremely windy which made set up a little difficult.
The next day I woke up, got supplies for a few days, and headed to the visitor center for a pass and some memorabilia. I was off to the main entrance while listening to my grooves. I was immediately launched into a Dr. Suess world as the the Yucca Valley towns disappeared in my rear view mirror. The Joshua Trees are abundant and they look so Jurassic among the piles of large boulders.
I made it to Jumbo Rocks Campground where I set up the camp for the evening. I had made it to the heart of the park and I couldn’t have been happier at that time.
The rain came that evening. I remember admiring the sky while a romantic couple freaked out and packed up their tent and supplies before getting in their car to drive home just as the rain stopped. The clouds were leftover for me, allowing for one of the most spectacular sunsets I’d ever seen. The wilderness behind my campsite seemed endless. There’s no where else like it.
I brought my truck and I wanted to use it. I decided to pack up my campsite and I headed out to Geology Tour Road. I didn’t make it down into the playa section of the trail, but I experienced the desert the way I needed to. After that it was off to the Queens Valley Road where the largest Joshua Tree in the park stands. I gave it a big ol’ hug!
I hiked out to the Wall Street Mill and eventually made my way back to the Jumbo Rocks Campground. The campground there was very full, so I took off down the road where I came across White Tank Campground which only had 15 camp sites and laid back atmosphere. The nature trail in the campground led to Arch Rock which was so beautiful before sunset!
I woke up on my birthday at White Tank Campground to a wonderful sunrise cascaded among the rocks. I ate a quick breakfast and headed to Ryan Mountain. It was here when I realized that my open-bed, small-cab truck is not the best place to lock up all my goods for more than 2 hours. I set off on a hike to the top of the mountain anyway, finishing before lunch. Afterwards I ran through The Hall of Horrors and out to Ryan Ranch before setting off on my way to exit the park.
I drove for quite awhile until the moon-like desert landscape descended into a sea of intimidating cacti. I took a nature walk to learn more about these crazy specimens which can emit toxins and cling to its victims only making the struggle worse. Add a couple Ocotillos and the rest of the day became a relaxed road trip through the desert and back to civilization. Who knew the best thing after a few days in a place like that could be In-N-Out Burger?