Joshua Tree National Park
After we spent a few days at the Imperial Sand Dunes we started to make our way back home, but we stopped at Joshua Tree National Park. Since we were coming from the South we entered through the South Entrance.
Our family had driven past Joshua Tree a number of times on I-10 and I wasn’t really sure why my husband was so interested in going to Joshua Tree National Park. He assured me that it would be a fun trip.
The best parts of Joshua Tree National Park are not close to Interstate 10. We stopped at the visitor center near the south entrance and went to CottonWood Visitor Center. There wasn’t much to do near there except check out the CottonWood Tree nearby. So we drove over to hike a bit and eat lunch that we had bought at a grocery store that morning.
As we drove north, our boys passed out so we stopped to take pictures, but made the choice to miss out on the short hikes while they slept. There was a lot of open spaces with not a lot to look at. There was a beautiful cactus garden that if we had timed it right would have been really fun to walk around, but besides that there wasn’t a lot to see or do. It took us about 1.5 hours to get from the south entrance to the main loop.
When we got to the loop we headed to the Palm Springs overlook. It was really windy when we got to the spot. We were able to find parking and walk up to see Palm Springs and try and keep our hats on. The breeze felt nice. And it was nice to stretch our legs and walk around. Maybe if we didn’t have kids we could have stayed to watch the sunset and get good pictures, but it wasn’t really practical with two little ones in tow.
We drove the rest of the loop and headed to 29 Palms to find our hotel. We stopped at various turnouts along the way. We also took the time to stop and hike for about a mile. Our oldest son had a lot of fun jumping on rocks, collecting sticks and even rock climbing (maybe not, we did try though). I think we tried to hike to a lake, but each turn led us to more rocks and no sign that we were close to water. Eventually we gave up and headed back. It was still a fun hike.
The next morning we got up and headed to the main Visitor Center. We heard a ranger talk about Joshua Trees and learned that Joshua Trees are not actually trees. They have rings and “leaves,” but they do not have roots. That means they are not trees. It was interesting to learn a little bit about the land and the plants in the area. We also were given a suggestion on a hike nearby to do.
We drove over to the hike that was hidden past a few camp sites and did the short mile loop. Our oldest hiked most of the way and we enjoyed more rock jumping, stick collecting and we even saw a few cacti in bloom.
After that we headed out. A friend suggested stopping at a little diner up the way. Oddly enough the whole town had lost power so we came up with a new plan. We ended up a few miles farther down the road at the McDonald’s. It was actually the perfect place to stop with two little guys. Our oldest had so much fun running around with all the kids in the play area and although our meal wasn’t the best thing for us to eat it was a yummy treat to end our vacation.
Joshua Tree National Park has a lot of fun short hikes. I think it would be fun to go back when our kids are a little older. Our almost 3 year old surprised me by how well he did on the hikes. I was a little worried he might fall into a cactus, but in the end he stayed safe and we had fun.