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.
We went off one of the trails at Indian Cove Nature Trail by the restroom closest to all the rock formations. We didn't see the trail with the wooden posts until after we hiked the rock structure one. I really loved all the cool rocks. We learned so much by visiting the Ranger station first. We learned about the other locations in Joshua Tree National Forest. a little history from the newspaper we received too. loved it.
A wonderful hike, but longer than advertised. NPS literature claims the trail is about 3 miles long, but our tracker placed the length at well over 4 miles. NPS also says the trail is moderately challenging, but for some the stairs will be quite challenging.
A generous population of barrel cacti reside along this trail and they shine bright red in the sun - great picture opportunities. I've seen desert tortoises - two different times - on this trail.
Best to do this trail very early in the morning when both the heat and the tourists won't be so overwhelming.
The oasis at the end is a cool wonder. Sadly, some idiots have carved their names in the bark of the palm trees. It was much worse several years ago, and some of that graffiti is no longer visible, but what is left is very annoying. Always report vandalism.
I took this trail today the day after a big all day rainstorm that set records in California. The fun thing about this hike was you were actually hiking through a creek for a little less than a half-mile. You get your feet wet no matter what! Nothing scary, I just wish I thought of going barefoot before socks got wet. Beautiful day. If you go all the way through there is a hidden waterfall with a sketchy approach - so I only heard it. You walk through a beautiful valley.