This months Travel Notes come from Joshua Tree, far from the madding crowd. With close to 40 million people in California this national park is a great escape. If you are planning a trip to LA or the west coast consider adding an extra day or two for a diversion to the desert. From our oasis in Palm Springs, the drive to Joshua Tree is a cruisy 1-2 hours depending on the entrance you choose. We chose the Western Entrance as we had plans…
Driving into the National Park was surreal. Joshua Trees dotted the landscape. Desert views of nothingness were both calming and exhilarating. Prehistoric flora and Jumbo Rocks came into view at every other turn. Welcome to Joshua Tree National Park. No matter how much research you do on a place, you can’t beat local info-so first stop was the Visitors Centre in Joshua Tree where we picked up a map and checked the drive time to our first planned stop. It was good news, the timing was perfect as we were heading to Hidden Valley for the golden hour.Legend has it that Hidden Valley was originally used by cattle rustlers to hide away their pilfered stock – here they could feed on the grasses in the valley and had a number of vantage points to keep watch. Friendly Canadians we met at Palm Springs said for first-time visitors it was a must and an easy 1 mile loop. Arriving around 2.30 in the afternoon a bitter wind was blowing however once we climbed a narrow set of stairs, a sandy path opened to a wide open valley bathed in warm sunlight sheltered from the wind by tall boulders that formed the walls around us.
With a perfect blue sky day and plenty of Mojave desert flora to capture it was a photographers dream. For me taking photos is so driven by the light – I can become a little obsessed. In the same way that the light falls on those chalky limestone buildings in the south of France and makes them glow…watching the way the light changed this landscape was truly breathtaking, pure magic.
At some point we had to Stop, it was getting cold again and we didn’t want to try and find our air bnb in the dark so we headed back to town. Spotted en route to the park earlier in the day was the Joshua Tree Saloon, it looked like a sleepy spot to quench our hard earned thirst….
As we pushed open the wooden door any thoughts we had that this might be a quiet spot for a cold beer evaporated. It was heaving with an all American atmosphere, plenty of grown men wearing cowboy hats, locals catching up and tourists having burgers & tacos – we swaggered in and took a seat at the bar and soaked it all up. A fun friendly place if you are feeling hungry too, & across the street is a pretty good pizza place if you wanted some ‘take out’. We chose the later as we had an early start planned.
The last capture as we left the park that afternoon…sunset at Joshua Tree.
Our day ended at the cutest Air Bnb, which we had to have so we could accomplish our next challenge. Sunrise at the Cholla Cactus garden. This little place we found at the last minute was the bomb, on a sandy road literally a stones throw from the park entrance and not too far to drive to Joshua Tree Saloon, cheers.
Sunrise at Joshua Tree is next up, see you there 🙂 X Brooke
Practical info & tips:
Hidden Valley nature trail – is an easy 30-60 minute walk & there are lots of picnic tables dotted around the car park for when you start or finish the trail. Don’t use the toilets unless you are absolutely desperate!
Try and plan your visit around afternoon & mornings – its just not the same in the middle of the day.
Or if you are the camping kind – there are camp sites throughout the park.
Joshua Tree Saloon
Pie for the People