Joshua Tree National Park

slc_dan

Desert Rat-Weekend Warrior
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Jun 7, 2012
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My wife, baby and I are headed to JTNP next week. We've never been. I expect it to be a little crowded, and that we'll most likely have to stay outside the park. We'll hopefully climb a few easier single pitches, and go on a few shorter (under 5 mile) hikes.

For those that have been, what do you recommend?

Is there something you didn't notice until repeat visits?

Any recommendations on camping outside the park?

Thanks!
 
Joined
Aug 31, 2015
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My wife, baby and I are headed to JTNP next week. We've never been. I expect it to be a little crowded, and that we'll most likely have to stay outside the park. We'll hopefully climb a few easier single pitches, and go on a few shorter (under 5 mile) hikes.

For those that have been, what do you recommend?

Is there something you didn't notice until repeat visits?

Any recommendations on camping outside the park?

Thanks!

My dad and I went through Joshua Tree one day on the way back from Six Flags and I'd say a great place to go is Key view, its just a drive, we didn't really hike at all (just pull offs) but there are awesome patches of cholla cacti, some nice rocks on the northern side if i remember correct.. Getting out and walking around would honestly be fun in of itself :) Not sure on camping opportunities but those towns on the north side seemed like they were in the middle of nowhere so it's probably easy to find a patch of BLM land or something. Hope you have fun, its very nice
 

Dan_85

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Jul 25, 2013
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There's a couple of campgrounds in the park, as well as one other NPS campground (Indian Cove i think?) which is officially part of the park but is in a detached area of land only accessible from the road between the town of Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms.

There's two significant areas of BLM land for camping; one north and one south of the park. The northern one is a large, dry lake bed area which can be accessed by taking either Sunfair or Cascade Roads north of the Twentynine Palms highway. There can be ATVers and model plane enthusiasts here, it's windy and not the most scenic either. For the southern area, head out of the park via the southern entrance. Once past the park boundary you can take the gravel roads off to the east or west into the desert and find spots along there. You're only a mile from I-10 but it's surprisingly quiet. Or you can cross over I-10 and camp off Box Canyon Road. The southern area is the nicer of the two but its a good 45 minute drive from the northern area of the park where the "good stuff" is. I'm not sure how busy these areas will be in Thanksgiving week, probably more so than usual I guess. You'll probably have to investigate whether it's tolerably busy or not.

I've only ever day-hiked in the park but I hear there is actually a lot of cool stuff and good backcountry to explore if you're prepared to put in the effort. Lots of abandoned mines, cool rock formations etc...
 

SKLund

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Aug 19, 2016
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Climb "Hands Off" . It's a 5.8. Took a winger off it in 1978 with a vertical face plant.
 

BryanG

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Jul 22, 2016
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If you buy a map of the park you will see an area entitled "Wonderland of Rocks" area about a 4 mile hike from the Keys West TH. This area has a lot of interesting rock formations and down the main wash you can find a oasis called Willow Hole. Lots of rock climbers out here too. If the park is really busy and you want to get away from it all but still be in the desert scene I would highly recommend Anza-Borrego State Park. Its about a 1.5 hour drive from the south entrance of Joshua Tree and there are endless opportunities for secluded exploration.

The south portion of Joshua Tree is not as scenic in my opinion so I would recommend staying towards the northern sector. Consequently that is where the majority of the camping and recreation opportunities are anyways.
 

slc_dan

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Thank you everyone for the info! Leaving tomorrow morning real early.
 

Yvonne

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I once hiked Lost Palm Oasis, it was a great hike, but a bit on the longer side with 7.2 miles. Maybe something for the future.
Lost Horse Mine is a nice loop hike as well, some old stuff out there to see.
If you want to do the typical short stuff, Barker Dam is a good one.
I used to camp at White Tank Campground, it's smaller, but in an awesome location.
 

slc_dan

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Wife, baby, and I had a great trip. Climbed some single pitch stuff two days, hiked a bit , and moto-touristed as well. Overall great trip, I want to return, for sure.

#1 reason I wanted to go to Joshua Tree was to get a nice earth shadow shot. I even bought a new lens! Something about the great white rocks, and the gnarly Joshua trees that is really something. We stayed in the park past dusk to catch that in the "Wonderland of Rocks" area @BryanG mentioned above. I got quite a few promising shots. Pumped. Next day I stuffed a bunch of stuff into my crash pad, camera, water bottle, climbing shoes, etc. Later that day I started looking through my photo's only to realize that they were all deleted. Being stuffed into a tight spot pressed just the right sequence to delete everything. Devastated.

Still had a great time. The BLM land at "the dry lake bed", was definitely less than ideal. Automatic firearms were shot throughout the night, ATV's were loud as well. On the third night there was a straight up rave going on near by. They didn't stop playing loud house music till I had finished making coffee the next morning.

A couple of the pics that I took in less than prime conditions the day we left.

Indian Cove by SLC_Dan, on Flickr

Indian Cove 3 Cholla by SLC_Dan, on Flickr

Indian Cove 2 by SLC_Dan, on Flickr

Dry Lake Bed 2 by SLC_Dan, on Flickr

Venus, and the wonderful Dry Lake Bed by SLC_Dan, on Flickr
 

Nick

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Bummer on the photo delete accident and the noisy neighbors. Not sure if yours happened because of this, but I'm a bit of a freak to never leave my menu in the format section, and especially not on the format card command itself, that way it takes more accidental pushes for something tragic to happen. Not just Menu > Select > Select or whatever it's called to started it.
 

slc_dan

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Bummer on the photo delete accident and the noisy neighbors. Not sure if yours happened because of this, but I'm a bit of a freak to never leave my menu in the format section, and especially not on the format card command itself, that way it takes more accidental pushes for something tragic to happen. Not just Menu > Select > Select or whatever it's called to started it.

That's exactly what happened, and exactly the solution I've found myself :lol:

One of those things that you have to be burned on to never do again I suppose.
 

gnwatts

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I love that area. Actually all the of the land to the Mexican border.
A drag about the lost shots. You have them stored in your brain hopefully.
 

Wyatt Carson

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Apr 15, 2015
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Dan you may be able to recover any photo you have not written over with new photos. I used to use Photo Rescue but that was a long time ago. It really works though. I'm sure there is other software that will pull them right back off your card. There may be many of your images that were not written over.

Wonderland of Rocks...what an amazing place. We backpacked in on the side just west of the boundary for day use only and set up a great camp in a legal jumble of rocks and then dayhiked the Wonderland.
 

Dave

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Bummer, Dan. I'm amazed you stuck it out through the night with the rave.
 
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