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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.

rock climbing
11 hours ago

This is more of a nature walk than a hiking trail, but it is absolutely gorgeous and unique! This valley is surrounded with massive boulders which are relatively easy to scale. If you go off the trail there are slots to explore and amazing flowers and wildlife! We saw a whip snake and a rattler, as well as all sort of flowering cacti and lizards. I highly recommend this trail, especially if you are into rock climbing and bouldering.

hiking
22 hours ago

Fence around the actual mine structure. Pretty good hike if your in the area.

nature trips
3 days ago

Very nice and well marked trail. Many places to climb and take in the desert views which are just incredible.

The hike it's self is fairly easy, but the sights are gorgeous. The dam as well as the petroglyphs are very cool to see and fun to learn about! Great simple hike if you want to explore Joshua Tree outside your car.

walking
4 days ago

I did this loop on the way back from the Lost Palms Oasis trail, which shares the path for about 0.6 of a mile from the parking lot. The Mastadon Peak trail T's off to the east. It's clearly marked.

The way up the trail has some steep parts, but it's well-maintained. There are stairs cut in the rock at a few points.

If you're going to go to the top of the rock formation, you'll need to go the back side (east). The way up is not immediately obvious and is not maintained. You'll need to do some scrambling to get up there, some of which is a little close to a nice drop off the east side. I wouldn't recommend this for kids, or anyone that's too limited in their physical ability.

Just to the west of the rock formation is an old mine. It's worth a look.

Much of the rest of the loop north from the mine was through washes, with nothing much new to see. Towards the end, there is another mine area, but not much to see there. I don't care much for walking through washes as I get weary of rocks in my boots. If I do this trail again, I will probably do an out-and-back between the parking lot and the rock formation, and avoid the wash portion of the loop altogether.

hiking
5 days ago

I enjoyed this hike. The views were nice and there was abundant small wildlife. I started at about 6am to try and beat the heat. The trail is well maintained, with erosion control on some of the steeper parts. There are occasional blazes to help you navigate when the trail crosses or runs along a wash. There are mile markers every mile.

Round trip took me about 3.5 hours. I spent about an hour at the canyon/oasis. I was traveling alone, and tend to move quickly. You might need more time. The trail was mostly empty on this Saturday morning in July. I only saw one couple out there besides me.

The descent/ascent into the canyon at the end is a loop. The west side is a scramble over boulders. The way through the boulders is marked with stacked rocks. The east side is a steeper trail. Just walk straight towards the sign about the palm trees, and you'll see it. I preferred to descend on the west (boulder) side, and walk up the eastern side.

You can also continue southeast through the canyon to an old mine. Follow the bits and pieces of water pipes. There wasn't much at the end, so you could probably skip this part unless you just want to extend your walk.

You'll exposed to the sun for most of this hike, so be prepared properly especially if you are doing this mid-day in the summer. I drank about 3L of water for my morning hike.

hiking
5 days ago

I got to the trail at about 0515 to try and beat the heat and catch the sunrise at the top. It took me about 45 minutes up, so I missed the sunrise by a few...but still worth it! At the top there's a nice panoramic view of the surrounding valley and mountains. There also another good stop about 10 minutes from the top.

The way up is all uphill, and the way down is all downhill. The way is mostly stairs...so prepare your knees! I passed a few coiled rattlesnakes, so mind your step.

off road driving
7 days ago

Moderate my ass. You definitely need 4wd for this if you don't wanna get stuck.

This trail is easy, and after walking out to skull rock, I climbed around and explored all of the rocks behind it and around it for a few hours.

It is a moderately hard hike, with nice views of the valley and park, but the last stretch of it is on flat ground and nothing but dirt and Joshua trees, not much to see at the end. In the middle it is the best in terms of scenery, as you are in the mountains.

Pretty easy but amazing scenery

The hike was through desert the entire way until you reach the oasis. Seeing the palm trees in the distance really gives you motivation to continue the hike, and the end is worth it.