We finally made it back to Joshua Tree National Park after nearly 3 years! Thanks to our Airstream Club, we stayed in Jumbo Rocks campground where it’s almost impossible to snag a campsite. In reality, these days it’s almost impossible to get a campsite at any Joshua Tree campground. A park ranger told us it was not all that busy when it was a National Monument, but became very popular after it became a National Park.
Joshua Tree is a beautiful park with lots to offer. Some things to see and do include great hiking trails, historic sites, rock climbing, geological sites, birding, horseback riding, biking and star gazing programs. The downside is that the park is crowed 7 days a week, except maybe during the summer when it is real hot. As a side note I’d have to say that rock climbing has to weed out the gene pool a little bit. It was crazy watching folks climb up the face of 100 plus foot sheer rock walls.
This post will be fairly brief since we’ve posted about Joshua Tree in the past. Our post about Joshua Tree, February 12, 2017, gives the history and some park facts, so please check it out if you are interested.
For this outing, 12 Airstreams from our club (Greater Los Angeles Airstream Club or GLAAC) met up at Jumbo Rocks campground for 3 days and 4 nights of camping, socializing and exploring in Joshua Tree National Park. We were fortunate that our daughter could join us for this trip. She’s in school so her schedule doesn’t allow her to go with us much anymore. As a group, we had a lot of fun gathering for happy hours, a hosted taco dinner and breakfast (cowboy coffee, eggs and biscuits cooked in cast iron in the coals). During the day, we all went our separate ways to explore what the park has to offer.
All around the campground, we noticed very large web-like nest structures full of caterpillars. We could see them moving all through the webs. Several park rangers we asked did not know what they were. We finally ran into one that did identify them as Tent Moth caterpillars. During the day they would move, inside their nest, to the side that was in the shade. During late afternoon, they exited their nest and crawled all around the exterior.
Our 3 days in the park, we hiked the Live Oak trail, Split Rock trail, Barker Dam trail and Hidden Valley trail. Each is different and fun to explore. We were lucky to see a nesting Great Horned owl during our Split Rock hike. One of our club members has a botany degree and did a lot of his studies in this park. He was kind enough to lead the Split Rock hike and tell us about various plants, animals and local geology. That really added to the enjoyment of our hike. We also visited all three of the park’s visitor centers, which are quite different from each other, a cholla cactus garden and ocotillo grove. As I said, it was crowed. Parking areas at trailheads and roadside attractions filled up by 9 am.
We couldn’t believe it when we saw folks walking around the cholla cactus garden in shorts and flip flops. Cholla cactus have very, very sharp barbed cactus spines on them and have been given the nickname jumping cactus. They don’t jump. Individual stem segments separate from the plant very easily so the lightest touch will detach them making it seem like it jumped on you. There was a first aid kit at the entry to the cactus garden that featured needle nose pliers to pull out cactus barbs. The medical kit and pliers looked pretty well used. I guess folks don’t take the hint.
I do have one gripe. We have dogs and take them camping with us because they like to camp and we like having them with us. But we follow park rules about dogs. We see people, in many national parks not just Joshua Tree, flat out ignore the fact that dogs are not allowed on hiking trails and are supposed to be on a leash at all times when being walked around where they are allowed. Information rangers give to visitors and postings at trailheads are clear on this, no dogs on trails and keep them leashed. There are several reasons why. Dogs can be dangerous to wildlife and other visitors, and often get hurt or worse. Dogs bark, creating noise that can disturb both wildlife and park visitors. They also leave their waste around the park, that owners don’t pick up, which can disturb wildlife because of the scent. A ranger in Joshua Tree told us dogs suffer the most rattlesnake bites, which are usually fatal to the dog. Enough said.
It’s a great park to visit if you are in the area, even if only for a day trip. Oh yes, the added value of this trip for us was that there is no cell service and no wifi. Our days were free from depressing news.
This may be our last camping post for a while since many campgrounds have closed due to the coronavirus. Everyone stay safe and hopefully this will all be behind us soon!