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2.5.16

Joshua Tree National Park, California


Life is made of adventures. Life is a day in the desert. Life is listening to music and singing the soundtrack of your trip with all your heart while driving. Life is breathing the fresh air while the wind blows in your hair. Life is enjoying every little moment. Life is stopping to admire whatever you find beautiful. Life is not having a schedule and going where you feel like to. Life is discovering again and again until you can no longer do it. Life is traveling & traveling is what makes me feel the most alive.

Last Saturday, I was in the desert. Two hours (without traffic, depending on when you leave) away from LA (going East) is a little treasure called Joshua Tree National Park. I haven't been to a lot of national parks and god knows the list is long (I am still trying to figure out how to visit them all), but this one, this one is extraordinary (and in my opinion, underrated). Maybe it's just me who likes everything I visit, or maybe this place is simply amazing. Joshua Tree gets its name from the native trees that are all over the park. The views of these little trees everywhere, is breathtaking. The infinite of it will take all of your worries away. I know it's not much and maybe that is why this park is not the first one that people visit, but once you're there, you will see the beauty and won't want to leave it. What I also love, is the peacefulness that goes with it. Like my last trip to Zion & Antelope Canyon, I LOVED having no service on my phone, nothing to worry about, no problems or work to deal with.

With a friend of mine (Jessica if you read me, thank you for the amazing day!), we decided to go and spend one day there. Like every national park, you will have to pay to enter ($20 per car) and if you plan to visit a lot of parks, I recommend to invest in a beautiful pass ($80) which will allow you to visit all the parks without any fee for a year. If you visit four parks, you already pay your pass so this is an option I really advise to consider. The park isn't that big, so you can easily explore everything in one day. Of course, there are many hiking trails and if you plan to do them all, a second day is not a bad idea. If you decide to spend the night, there are several camping areas in the park (be prepared, only two of them have water).
We left LA around 11AM and reached the park by 1:30PM - we stopped to buy food, but we honestly didn't hit much traffic. We didn't leave that early, because we wanted to stay until sunset and it was honestly enough. However, we only concentrated on the North part of the park. You can easily cross it in one day and visit both the North and South part, but for this time, that's mostly what we wanted to see. What is amazing, is that you can drive through the whole park, which allow you to stop wherever you want when you feel like it. So, I will try to be brief (too much blah blah kills everything) and tell you where we stopped and what we saw. 

First stop: the Oasis visitor center (we entered at the North entrance station). Very original I know, but necessary as you can get a map of the park, pay your entrance fee (did I mentioned that we got lucky and went during a free week? Yeah, no entrance fee for us! - Although I don't mind the fact that you have to pay as the funds go to preserve the park). They also have restrooms (with water) so that's the moment to go before entering the park. They also have a little shop where you can buy souvenirs, books, etc.


Second stop: Right after the entrance. I know we are very original once again, but we liked the view of the desert and couldn't wait to start exploring.


Third stop: On the road, a little before Skull Rock. I have to admit and I hope I won't disappoint you dear reader, but I am not much of a guide (something I need to work on), but we stopped every time we found the landscape beautiful and it doesn't always have a specific name, but I will create a map that I will add later, so it's easy for you to locate the spots.


Third Stop: Skull Rock. It's easy to find, there will be a sign and a lot of cars parked next to it. This rock is particular, because, like its name says it, it has the shape of a skull.


Fourth Stop: One again, it's a little complicated to tell where this spot is exactly. If you keep driving straight after Skull Rock, you will find a little thigh road on your right that brings you deeper into the park. That is what we liked to do, explore again and again and find little amazing hidden spots. (Following the crowd is boring right?).


Fifth Stop: The Wall of Horrors. Let me tell you this straight: stopping there, was the worse and the best decision of the day. Why worse? Well, because we almost died (Yes, I am a very dramatic person) climbing with a group of strangers. Best? Because besides the fear, it was so amazing that it created a memory that I will never forget. I know you are dying to hear the story, so since I am such a nice person, I will tell it to you (if not, you can skip to the next stop, I won't be mad!).

We stopped because we were curious after we saw the name of the place. We should also have run away directly because a name like this says it all I guess, but well, there we were! The first part has nothing scary really, and the wall gets its names because it is popular for climbing. We were just walking around, enjoying the view when we meet a group of climbers. They were looking for a cave and we thought that it must be so beautiful that we followed them. You know, we thought that it was a regular cave, easy to enter, easy to exit. Well, when we were deep in and saw what we had to cross to exit, let me know tell you that we weren't much laughing anymore. Or I was actually laughing, but only because I was anxious. Little did I know that I would have to climb, go under rocks, do a little jump from one to another, etc.. The most scary part was when I had to climb by having my feet on one wall and my hands on another, basically lying in between those two walls. I thought that it was the end of my life haha, but I am so grateful to have lived this little experience. I know that it was very careless and dangerous, but only what is risky makes it worth living, right?


Sixth Stop: KEY VIEWS. Not much Joshua trees over there, but an amazing view. There, you can overlook an expanse of valley, mountains and desert. This is also where you can view the San Andreas fault. A must do if you visit the park.


Seventh Stop: just a spot on the road back from Key Views, very easy to find. We just stopped to admire the trees, the road and the sunset. 



We then exited via the West entrance station. We haven't done everything of course and we haven't explored the bottom of the park and that will be for another time. Cholla Cactus Garden and the Cottonwood spring, I will be back for you.

P.S: it wouldn't be a little road trip without its music: *

Xx, Célia

"Climb the mountain so you can see the world, not so the world can see you."
 - unknown

2 comments:

  1. Great article, and great pics ! I was there three weeks ago, I have to admit you are definitely more efficient than me...

    ReplyDelete

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