Joshua Tree National Park – Palm Tree Oasis in the Middle of the Desert

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Two Easter holidays ago, we had the luxury of traveling to Palm Springs, California to stay with some friends. On that trip, we played A LOT of cards and did some really great hiking in the Joshua Tree National Park. I LOVE the National Parks in the US. We are so lucky to have all of these amazing natural open spaces at our disposal.  If only we could enjoy them right now (sigh).

“It’s the Joshua tree’s struggle that gives it its beauty”

~Jeanette Wells~

A Joshua Tree

I always thought U2s famous Joshua Tree album cover was shot in this National Park, but realized the tree lived outside of Death Valley. The tree sadly died in 2000 at 200 years of age supposedly from strong desert winds.

This U2 album is one of my all-time faves. They picked this particular tree as Bono apparently consulted a Bible and was taken by how the tree got its name. Mormon settlers thought the limbs reminded them of a Biblical story of Joshua lifting his hands in prayer. Many of the albums lyrics either reference the Bible, are taken from Bible verses or hint at biblical themes.

Image Courtesy of East Bay Times

It took us a couple of hours to get to the park entrance. Once we made it, our first stop was the Cottonwood Visitor Center, where we grabbed a map and directions to the Lost Palms Oasis trailhead. The park ranger told us the 7.2 (ish) mile hike (out and back) would take 5 to 6 hours and to bring a gallon of water per person (we didn’t believe him). We generally don’t carry that much, but we probably should have. It was hotter than blazes and I am pretty sure we were dehydrated even 2 days later. Nothing seemed to quench our thirst.  It would have been nice to have extra water to wet a bandana or SOMETHING for a relief from the relentless sun.

This is how it all started…..this is pretty awesome….we didn’t see anything like this again for a LONG time.

It was a hot and dusty trail – in the middle of the Colorado Desert– exactly how you would envision a desert to be. Not one cloud in the sky (or just a few wisps), not one ounce of moisture, no shade, anywhere. Just a sea of brown with an occasional orange barrel cactus and some pretty cool rock formations every now and then – I expected more desert blooms, but not sure when it rained last.  At one point, I was like, “Why are we out here again?” Questioning our decision to do this hike in the first place. We apparently weren’t the only 2 thinking this as we ran into a young couple hiking up when we were heading down who asked, “Is it it worth it?”.

After about 3.5 miles (ish) of hiking through the barren desert, with scorched skin and lips (It sounds dramatic, but it’s the truth!!), we came upon a beautiful sight – SHADE in a stand of fan palm trees – an Oasis.  The first one I had ever seen in my life.  It was AMAZING.  These fan palm trees apparently only live in this Colorado desert.  We hung out for a while and cooled off in the shade of these magnificent trees. It took us a while to recharge and mentally prep for our rather ‘warm’ return trip back to the car.

At the end of the hike, with depleted water bottles, tons of rocks in our shoes, salty faces, swollen fingers, and hot skin, we were glad we did it and would highly recommend this hike if you ever find your way there.

Start early (we started too late at 9:30), definitely bring more water than you think you need, bring a picnic to enjoy in the Oasis, take a nap in the shade, and have a cold beer (or cold beverage of choice) in the car for the end if you can swing it.

I would also recommend camping in the park….the sunsets/sunrises must be pretty incredible. I also hear the stars at night are some of the most stunning in the world.

Hope everyone has a great Easter!

…i choose this…

Pam

79 comments

  1. Oh, this makes me miss the desert southwest so much! The pictures are beautiful. Heck, if our summer trip to Europe gets corona-cancelled, which it almost certainly will, but somehow we are allowed to road trip, I could definitely see JTNP as a destination. OK, I know I’ve done this to you before, but I just have to share this post I wrote with you. It’s about Death Valley and the U2 Joshua tree. It’s not overly long. I hope you enjoy! Happy Easter from suddenly snowy Minnesota!
    https://thetravelarchitect.wordpress.com/2019/01/12/long-live-spontaneity/

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know – the southwest is just so incredible. All kinds of fun things to explore! Definitely replace it with a road trip if that happens. I sure hope it doesn’t. We are supposed to go to Africa in August – hoping that stays the course. I’ll check out the read! I am sure it’s a goodie!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We are sheltering-in-place in La Paz, Mexico. Currently mulling around the idea of moving to Puerto Escondido for the hurricane season. The last time I had this much trouble throwing off the dock lines was when I first set sail from NYC. I want to go into the Sea of Cortez, but the in country ports are starting to close.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this virtual visit to Joshua Tree! We only dipped a toe in this park, and while we saw some amazing trees, THIS trail looks incredible and unique. I’ll definitely be adding it to my travel list (which gets longer by the day!). Wishing you peace and continued health this Easter.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Marsi! You’re still here! I thought you’d fallen off the face of the blogosphere! I thought perhaps WordPress had somehow kicked me off your site (I’ve seen it do weird things like that; in fact, it did it to Pam and me a while back), but I just checked and I’m still following you. It looks like you haven’t posted in a while. I hope all’s well and you are safe and healthy!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We are doing well! Staying inside! Luckily we’ve been able to get groceries delivered so we don’t have to go out πŸ™ŒπŸ» we’ve taken a few walks just to get some fresh air and movement and the city is so empty!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Joshua Tree National Park is such an amazing place. I’ve always been fascinated by deserts and seen many incredible photos of it on social media and it looks particularly beautiful around sunset and sunrise. It’s been on my bucket list for such a long time, if only we could travel again. Thanks for sharing. Happy Easter to you and your family ❀️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The desert is one of my FAVORITE terrains to explore. And you are right, there are some amazing sunsets and sunrises to be seen. Also the stars at night are incredible. Thanks for stopping by Aiva! I hope you had a wonderful easter with you and yours :-).

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  4. Looks like a great time and lovely hike too! I haven’t been out there in years and had been thinking of going this April or May but hopefully next year. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I think that’s a hike I’d be wanting to avoid in the summer, but wow. The desert landscape must be magnificent in its, well, desert-ness…if there is such a word…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have previously found myself resisting Joshua Tree NP for some nebulous reason, but this post makes me want to go and do that hike! Is it the challenge of being hot and uncomfortable for a good long time? – maybe! But the scenery appeals to me, too, even the lack of it at times. Next Easter …? We can only hope.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The hike was pretty cool. I think camping out there would add to the experience. When you first drive in, there is a bit of an ‘eh’ feeling until you start digging in a little deeper. I felt the same way on the Big Island of Hawaii. You’d like the hike for sure.

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  7. Would you believe I’ve lived in California for 11 years now and still haven’t been to Joshua Tree? It’s shameful! I don’t even have an excuse because we have a National Parks annual pass. We’ll get there soon, I swear it! This post is excellent motivation to get a move on, because it looks like a great park!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Someday!!! πŸ™‚ We did manage to work our way through many parks on our 66 trip last year, it would be fun to do a trip across the USA in an RV and just hit as many national parks as humanly possible!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I really want to be able to see a Joshua Tree at some point. Those Palm Trees are amazing. What a wonderful trip, Pam!! I can’t wait until we’re able to get out and see the world once again! Stay safe and well!! xx

    Liked by 1 person

  9. So…right at the time my husband and bought our retirement place in Palm Desert, I read an account of a European couple who ventured into Joshua Tree in July and didn’t carry much water. They did not survive. Always, always listen to rangers and always, always pack more water than you need when hiking in the desert, and Joshua Tree. Through your experience, you are able to warn others, but it can not be stressed enough! I loved your photos and story; yes, we have these pockets of beautiful palm tree oasis in the Coachella Valley that are just stunning. The one you encountered in Joshua Tree looks amazing. And yes, always start hiking early. I have got started a little late myself on some hikes in May here in the valley and it is not worth it! Thanks for this great post that highlights the wonders of where I chose to retire! Oh P.S., two years ago my son took his family to Joshua Tree and had a close encounter with a rattle snake. It was a positive experience actually and nothing too fearful (thank goodness). I was supposed to go but was home resting my bum knee.

    Susan Grace

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I could not agree more on listening to the rangers! That is super sad about the European couple. jeez, however not surprised. I hope all is well with you all and are enjoying some warm weather. It is a typical spring up here – sun, then snow, then rain, then sun. ugh. Ready for summer! Thanks for reading and commenting Susan Grace – I appreciate your visits!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. We briefly visited Joshua Tree National Park, like 45 minutes there. It was awe inspiring, but darned hot and sunny. I like your photos. The idea of being outside wander at will is most appealing right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I bet it was crazy hot and sunny! Did you get out at all? Or was it too oppressive? I agree, I just want to get in my car and drive for days. But alas, I’ll have to wait. That’s ok….hanging around the house has been good for a change!

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      1. We walked around for about 10 minutes, just to say we’d been there. Then we drove around, but this was a fast visit. Z-D was attending a conference in Palm Springs and I went along. On a whim we snuck over to see Joshua Tree National Park.

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  11. Thanks for the tour. Looks like the Joshua trees have grown since 1987. ; ) Your blog is beautiful and well crafted. I’ve nominated you for a Liebster Award. See my latest post for details. : ) Rebecca

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