“Oh the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all!” - Dr. Suess
If you are wondering why I am starting this blog off with a Dr. Seuss quote, it’s because Joshua Tree National Park will 100% remind you of a Dr. Suess book. It is pure desert magic.
Filled with massive old rock formations and Joshua trees sprinkled throughout, this busy National Park is a site to see. I love going camping and have been wanting to check out Joshua tree for awhile, so I took a quick 24-hour trip with my boyfriend, Thomas, and our pup, Coco. And even though it was a short trip, the scenery was 100% worth the drive. Plus, we learned a lot of useful info for the next time when we can go for a longer period of time.
The first big lesson we learned, is that you can’t take dogs on any of the hikes in the National Park. While this originally seemed like a bit of a bummer, we quickly learned that there are still plenty of places to frolic, explore, and experience the abundant cacti, giant rocks, and of course, Joshua trees.
Cholla Cactus Garden
We LOVED the Cholla Cactus Garden Nature Trail! This easy 0.3 mile trail is more like a stroll than a hike, but it is super cool nonetheless. We thought it was pretty insane, actually. All of a sudden there is just this one area that is filled with cacti, whereas in the rest of the park they are more scattered. I definitely recommend that you stop here for a look.
Ryan Mountain Trail
A hike that we were looking forward to that we didn’t end up doing since they don’t allow dogs was the Ryan Mountain Trail. I had read about this one on California Through My Lens and hopefully we can hike it next time when we go without the pup.
***I am a huge fan of AllTrails.com and I use it for every hike I go on. Check it out if you haven't already!
Sites to See
This skull-shaped rock was pretty rad. There is a 1.7 mile trail that you can hike there on or since it is right off the road, you can just hop out and take a look. So, we opted for the latter and drove by it in in the morning after we packed up our camping gear. It was a perfect little 10-minute stop to hop out, climb around on some rocks, and take in the fresh morning air.
This is another that you can take a trail to or look at from the road from a distance. So, we hopped out for few minutes to check it out from afar.
Literally the entire park is a site to see. Since we only had 24 hours, we found plenty to do even though we couldn't go on any big hikes. We pulled off the main road in multiple places and just walked around exploring the wildlife and climbing the giant rock formations (which Coco was a huge fan of). This was a perfect and relaxing way to take in the desert beauty.
Camping in Joshua Tree was also a big lesson learned. I had read before that most of the campgrounds are first come first serve, except for two that you can reserve in advance. We were hoping to get into a campground in the middle of the park so, in an adventurous spirit, we decided to chance it. We got to the park around 1:30pm and they were all full. Oops. Haha. But, we came to see some cool nature so we went into the park anyway... where we quickly lost reception. So, we decided to go with it and took a couple hours to drive around the park and explore. Later in the day we exited the park and pulled up Hipcamp.com (seriously, this site is so cool) and reserved a spot about 15 minutes outside of the park. Easy Peasy.
The campsite was really cool and we got lucky because the super moon came out that night. It was littttt. Literally. I had been hoping to see a sky full of stars but instead we got the big beautiful moon watching over us. She lit up the sky so much that all we needed was our campfire and her to see around the campsite. Perfection.
The next morning we were greeted with a heavenly sunrise. I didn’t realize how epic desert sunsets and sunrises are. :)
*** Camping Recommendations: Reserve online in the park ahead of time, plan on getting there in the morning, or reserve a spot on hipcamp ahead of time.
There are no restaurants in the park but there is the little town of Yucca Valley a few miles away with a good variety of restaurants. This town has a hipstery/Coachella vibe and we were very happy to find the Frontier Cafe the day we were heading back. Their menu has healthy options for vegans and meat eaters alike. Thomas and I both got vegan breakfast sandwiches (mine with GF bread) and I got a delicious almond milk matcha latte. Oh, and Coco had some eggs (still wondering if I can make her vegan, LOL).
For while we were in the park and camping, we brought a cooler full of food. We even brought stuff for vegan, gf s’mores. YAS.
This was a perfect way to get away for the weekend and reset, and we can't wait to go back. :)