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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.

Easy hike; really fun...

hiking
5 days ago

Not for beginners or people who can't do flights upon flights of rock stairs. Since I'm currently not in the best of shape I took several breaks during the uphill to catch my breath, but I have to say the view at the top is definitely worth it for the reward! Downhill was a breeze, but make sure to watch your stepping during the middle phase of the trail as the cliffside goes down quite a bit there.

Otherworldly! Beautiful at sunset.

This is a super easy trail with information stands all along the trail talking to you about the wild life, plant life and the way people lived before life as we know it set in. There's no shade so make sure to go early in the morning or later in the afternoon. The sunset here is one of a kind so I'd say go in the evening. Super easy!!!

hiking
9 days ago

The first part of this trail was basically the same as the fist half of the Boyscout trail. Mostly desert. A little over half way in, you start seeing more green and trees due to the extra moisture in the area. It really begins to look like an oasis. Unfortunately, from this point onward you are hiking in a wide wash with super deep sand. Not fun with a full backpack and several gallons of water. The end of the trail has a couple of water pools that may either be, or appear to be just mud. But right before you get there, you pass under a few willow trees which are probably the best part of the whole trail. Absolutely beautiful place to stop and have lunch in the cool shade of the rustling willows (if you don't mind sharing the spot with a few passers by since this trail is fairly busy).

You can hike beyond the springs and into rattlesnake canyon if you don't mind scrambling some boulders. If you go far to the left immediately after entering rattlesnake canyon, you'll see the deepest spring, and the one most likely to have actual water in it (looked to be several feet deep when I visited). Beyond that the canyon continues dropping. Very scenic with lots of cactus.

backpacking
9 days ago

Hiked quite a number of trails in Joshua Tree last week and this was our favorite. The East end of the trail intersects the Boy Scout Trail at near the half-way point on the Boy Scout Trail. Probably because of this, the trail appears to be very lightly used. Several short loop trails are available off the Big Pine Trail at around the mid-way point.

The trail starts off (on the East end) following a wash with very steep rock walls on either side for about a half mile, then it opens up. At this point, there is a fantastic spot for secluded and hidden back-country camping if you scramble the low ridge to your right into a small valley.

From here the trail becomes very beautiful, moving between several different mini valleys, each with their own scenery to offer. About 2 miles up the trail, there is a Y and a sign that points to "Big Pine Spur" to the right. About another half mile gets you to the dead pine tree. You can continue down the wash and scramble some boulders for a view of the town of Joshua Tree. This spur trail is somewhat hard to follow but you can very quickly see the gap where the pine tree is located so just go in that general direction.

We saw probably 15 people on the Boyscout Trail but not a single person on the Big Pine trail. We didn't explore the section that goes East from the spur junction so can't comment on that.

Nice easy hike, perfect for kids. Well marked the whole way through with arrows on posts . The kids loved climbing on rocks along the way.