When I first thought about life in Southern California, the close proximity of new-to-me National Parks immediately excited my outdoorsy/granola-y/tree-hugging side. I even mentioned it to everyone I informed of our decision to move here – “we’ll be close to Joshua Tree!” But the new year rolled around, and my back to work routine had quickly become, well, very routine. It dawned on me that Andrew and I still hadn’t taken the less than 2 hour drive out to see the infamous Joshua Trees.
With my mom’s birthday approaching, I decided I wanted to spend the day celebrating her while doing something we might do if she was here visiting. She loves being outdoors, loves the sunshine, and loves a little bit of adventure and spontaneity. The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, does it? A day trip to Joshua Tree National Park was absolutely the best way I could spend her birthday.
Andrew and I put on our best national park apparel, packed up some sandwiches, snacks and beverages, and drove east towards Palm Springs. I had done a small bit of research as to what may be some things we could do while at the park ((JT, as the locals call it)). Since we would only be there for the day, I knew at the very least, I wanted to watch the sunset at Keys View. Other than that, I was open to suggestions from an expert. I navigated us to enter the park at the Northern part of the park, in a small city named Twentynine Pines. We pulled into the visitor’s center just before the park entrance, where a very kind park ranger showed me a map and highlighted his suggested route for our day there, including stops at Cholla Cactus Garden and ending at Keys View of course!
There’s no denying it was a special day spent in an incredible place. Andrew was snapping away with the Sony camera. The warm sun and fresh air were a break from desks, sales floors and our apartment that was so very much needed. We all get so wrapped up in that dance of normal life, not to mention the addiction to electronic devices, and forget to feed our souls with a natural retreat.
All the photos you see in this post have not been edited whatsoever. Trust. I wanted to show you the true beauty of this park on a clear early January day. A good camera helps, but even our little Sony RX100 is still only a point and shoot.
We purchased an annual park pass for $30 upon entrance, and as soon as we returned back home, we booked two nights of tent camping in early April at one of the nine campgrounds. Very much looking forward to returning to this picturesque destination.
Enjoy Joshua Tree National Park…
Looking through these photos again a few weeks later makes me smile. I love all the various huge rock formations, and can’t help but stare at them and figure out who or what they look like. Although the sunset was breathtaking, you can see the low clouds that rolled in, blocking our view of the Coachella Valley and the San Andreas Fault, so fingers crossed I get to see those next time. Aren’t we all fortunate to have so many preserved national parks in this country to visit?
For Your Information: the best times to visit are Spring and late Fall, as the temperature can reach 110F and above in the summer months. Bring lots of drinking water, even on a day trip. Bring layers if you go during the winter, as it can be warm during the day but very cold after sunset. You can purchase a 7-day park entrance pass for $15 or an annual pass for $30. Entrances to the park are shown here. You can also find lots of other great information on the NPS site here .