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”
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.
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…