A mystical landscape glittered with towering boulders, the infamous “Joshua Tree” tree and a variety of vibrant desert flora, fauna and wildlife that call this desert their home. You’ve probably heard of “J-Tree” referenced by many campers, hikers, climbers and outdoor enthusiasts alike, but may still be wondering what the hype is all about over. Honestly, what is the deal with this desert? What makes it a destination to be so favored and fought for as a preserved and praised National park? If you have yet to make your way to Joshua Tree, here is my list of reasons why to go. Whether you are an avid climber, hiker, backpacker, photographer, or simply want to explore the beauty of the unique desert landscape, Joshua Tree is certainly a destination that should be on your list.
- Exploring the Desert
You don’t have to be a rock climber, photographer, or hiker to appreciate the beauty of Joshua Tree. This National Park made it’s place on the map during the California Gold Rush, and became a popular spot for the wiles of the wild wild west, with ranchers, and mines of ore and countless stories of California’s first settlers. The desert quickly became threatened by outsiders taking for themselves souvenirs of cacti, Joshua Tree, and various other artifacts from the land that quickly disturbed the natural landscape. In 1994, Joshua Tree National Park was established as a National Park, and today the park spans 794,000 acres of highly protected and preserved land. When visiting the park, it’s important to remember that there are many rules, regulations and guidelines in place to keep this land preserved and protected. The integrity of the land has been fought for decades, and this is evident when visiting Joshua Tree because the trails, rocks, campsites and desert itself is truly evident as respected land. If you desire to experience a magical landscape, wake up at dawn, explore through the day, and watch the sunset again at dusk and experience the true magic that Joshua Tree offers.
- Rock Climbing & Bouldering
Joshua Tree is revered for being a top destination for rock climbers all around the world. From novice to advanced, climbers flock to this desert every year to scale the walls of the towering boulders that are unique to the Joshua Tree landscape. For over 5 decades, rock climbing has experienced growth in Joshua Tree, and it is now a household name for being a top destination to climb. It’s tough ratings demand climbers who are up for the challenge that other popular destinations such as Red Rocks and Holcomb don’t possess. Climbing in Joshua Tree is open to anyone, yet it’s extremely important to review the safety precautions, come prepared with the proper gear, and come with an experienced guide or rock climber if possible. When done right, Joshua Tree can be an incredible place to enjoy the sport of climbing.
If climbing is not your thing, but you still want to experience Joshua Tree, this National Park features many hikes ranging from short nature hikes that are less than a mile, to strenuous 7-mile long trails that include rock scrambling and backpacking equipment. Being the closest national park to Los Angeles, hiking in Joshua Tree can make for a great day trip. Before you go, make sure you pick your trail, map your path and bring plenty of water and other recommended gear for the hike you choose. Check out modernhiker.com for a list of trails, their ratings, and recommendations for your adventure.
Camping in Joshua Tree is an incredibly fun experience. With smaller campsites fitting 6 people, and larger group campsites fitting an upwards of 10-20, there is plenty of accommodation for a group of friends to enjoy. Weekend trips are most popular for campers. Rock climbers and those traveling far distances may stay the max of 14 days for group sites. If booking a trip to camp in Joshua Tree, note that you must make a reservation ahead of time for group sites, and smaller sites are a first come first serve basis. There is a local town in Joshua Tree, and even a few Aribnb homes and a resort close by for alternate accommodation to visit the park, but for the most authentic Joshua Tree experience, grab a few friends, a campsite and your camping gear and opt to sleep under the millions of stars that reveal themselves uniquely in this desert.
If you are an outdoor photographer, you have either experienced the photogenic nature of J Tree, or you should definitely add it to your list. With an unpolluted sky, the stars are vibrant and inviting for a night time shoot. Grab your tripod, slow your shutter speed, and capture the stars that light up the sky, making for a shot of the stars you just can’t get in the city.