I LOVE the National Parks in the US. We are so lucky to have all of these amazing natural open spaces at our disposal!! My goal is to take my Life Bus to each and every one of them at some point as there is always something pretty cool to see.
Case in point, this weekend we were visiting friends in the Palm Desert in Southern California, a few short miles from where the world famous Coachella music festival takes place. I think in my 20’s that would have been on the bucket list, now I shudder at the thought of being around that many drunk and stoned people in a confined space, even if it is outside!
We had some time on or own, so Sean and I decided to explore the Joshua Tree National Park. I always thought U2s famous Joshua Tree album cover was shot in this National Park, but realized the tree lived outside of Death Valley. The tree sadly died in 2000 at 200 years of age. There is a shrine somewhere off highway 190 to pay homage to it! I’m kinda bummed we didn’t look into it. Nasty people keep chopping parts of it off…not sure about you, but that kind of thing drives me crazy.
(Image by SwittersB & Exploring)
Once we made it to the park, our first stop was the Cottonwood Visitor Center, where we grabbed a map and directions to the Lost Palms Oasis trailhead. The park ranger told us the 7.2 (ish) mile hike (out and back) would take 5 to 6 hours and to bring a gallon of water per person. We generally don’t carry that much, but we probably should have. It was hotter than blazes and I am pretty sure we are dehydrated even 2 days later!! It would have been nice to have extra water to wet a bandana or SOMETHING for a relief from the relentless sun.
This is how it all started…..this is pretty awesome….we didn’t see anything like this again for a while.
It was a hot and dusty trail – in the middle of the Colorado Desert – exactly how you would envision a desert to be. Not one cloud in the sky (or just a few wisps), not one ounce of moisture, no shade, anywhere. Just a sea of brown with an occasional orange barrel cactus and some pretty cool rock formations every now and then – I totally expected more desert blooms, but not sure when it rained last. At one point, I was like, “Why are we out here again?”, questioning our decision to do this hike in the first place. We apparently weren’t the only 2 thinking this as we ran into a young couple hiking up when we were heading down who asked, “Is it it worth it?”.
After about 3.2 miles (ish) of hiking through the barren desert, with scorched skin and lips, we came upon a beautiful sight – SHADE in a stand of fan palm trees – an Oasis. The first one I have ever seen in my life. It was AMAZING. These fan palm trees apparently only live in this Colorado desert. I realized most of the the pics I took did not have people to show how big these things really are – with the exception of the image below. Pretty incredible given the preview of growth (or lackthereof) we saw on the route along the way.
At the end of the hike, with depleted water bottles, tons of rocks in our shoes, salty faces, swollen fingers, and hot skin, we were glad we did it and would recommend this hike if you ever find your way there.
Start early (we started too late at 9:30), definitely bring more water than you think you need, bring a picnic to enjoy in the Oasis, take a nap in the shade, and have a cold beer (or cold beverage of choice) in car for the end if you can swing it.
I would also recommend camping in the park….I would imagine the sunsets/sunrises are pretty incredible.
Hope everyone had a great Easter!