off road driving
The United States Congress designated the Joshua Tree Wilderness in 1976 and it now has a total of 594,502 acres. All of this wilderness is located in California and is managed by the National Park Service. The Joshua Tree Wilderness is bordered by the Sheephole Valley Wilderness to the north and the Pinto Mountains Wilderness to the north. The California Desert Protection Act of 1994 transformed Joshua Tree National Monument into a national park and expanded the old designated Wilderness by 133,382 acres. The additions thrust north into the Pinto Mountains, northeast into the Coxcomb Mountains, southeast into the Eagle Mountains, and southwest into the Little San Bernardino Mountains. Most of the park away from road corridors is wilderness, a fabulous meeting place of two desert ecosystems. The lower, drier Colorado Desert dominates the eastern half of the park, home to abundant creosote bushes, the spidery ocotillo, and the "jumping" cholla cactus. The slightly more cool and moist Mojave Desert covers the western half of the park, serving as a hospitable breeding ground for the undisciplined Joshua tree. You'll find examples of a third ecosystem within the park: five fan-palm oases, where surface or near-surface water gives life to the stately palms. By day, you might spy bighorn sheep on mountainous slopes, numerous lizards lazing in the heat, and eagles soaring in bright sunlight. Still, it's nighttime that truly brings the desert to life, with tarantulas, rattlesnakes, coyotes, jackrabbits, bobcats, kangaroo rats, and burrowing owls responding to the lure of the dry, cool air. You'll witness some of the most fascinating geologic displays to be found in any of Southern California's desertland: twisted rock formations and granite monoliths painted with faded colors into a giant and beautiful mosaic. These rocks are an immense attraction to rock climbers. You won't find a lot of trails, but you will find travel relatively easy in multitudes of arroyos and playas, bajadas, and narrow ravines that require scrambling over skin-scraping boulders. Carry water. Joshua Tree National Park is made up of 75 percent wilderness and lies 140 miles east of Los Angeles, 175 miles northeast of San Diego, and 215 miles southwest of Las Vegas. You can approach it from Interstate 10 and Hwy 62 (Twentynine Palms Highway). The closest airport is in Palm Springs. Public transportation to the park is not available. There are three park entrance stations: 1) The west entrance is located five miles south of the junction of Highway 62 and Park Boulevard at Joshua Tree Village. 2) The north entrance is in Twentynine Palms, three miles south of the junction of Highway 62 and Utah Trail. 3) The south entrance at Cottonwood Spring, which lies 25 miles east of Indio, can be approached from the east or west, also via Interstate 10.
the hike was nice although it was very cold out. the views from the peak were great. once at the top go to the right and then go up to the left as well because views are great from both spots. the one trail the Burnt something was 2.5 miles and so boring and never-ending to me. on the way back we decided to take the canyon view trail and it was awesome. it was 1.3 miles but felt longer to me. most of the hike was in sand so that made the workout really worth it. the two women at the check in were so nice and helpful. they gave us a map and highlighted a route for us. again I would skip the Burnt trail though. oh and we did see one deer. enjoy.
If you study the maps available online, you won't have trouble finding Carey's Castle. Once you enter the main canyon, just remember to staff left for the first two forks, and then right for the third. The foot prints make it pretty obvious. The "castle" is interesting, but the hike would be worth it without it. Walking in the sand/gravel does get a little old after a while. I found out after the fact that the park service have closed the area due to looting (oops). So, you may want to check with the park first.
This hike is everything great that's been written. Many patches of sand along the trail which make the going slower, true, but the scenery's worth. Bring lunch and have it under the dense shade of the willows. High season's hell to park off Park Boulevard so arrive early. Well worth it.
First off the "oasis" is not the reason this hike is great. Take your time and enjoy the trip. We came upon a desert tortoise near the trail that we would have missed had we been in a hurry.
We backcountry camped overnight about half way up the trail and half a mile south of the trail. Awsome stargazing. At breakfast a large tarantula came to visit.
We are going back to see bighorn sheep soon.