Exploring Joshua Tree National Park

Did you know April 15-23 was National Park Week and to celebrate all national parks offered free admission on the weekend dates? I had no idea until the week was almost over. Not wanting to let the opportunity pass my family and I headed to Joshua Tree to take advantage of the killer deal.

In all my trips to the Coachella Valley I had somehow never visited the park and it was high on my list of places to see. Luckily, my mom and sister are game for anything and decided to accompany me on a day of adventure. The park is about 2 hours from my home so we ventured out bright and early a recent Saturday morning in an attempt to beat the crowds. We arrived at the visitor center just before things got really crazy (by the time we left it was swarming with people) and were given a map and recommendations by a friendly ranger. Then we were off to explore!

Joshua Tree is really popular amongst campers and rock climbers – neither of which interest me or my family. Instead we decided to take a few nature walks and appreciate our surroundings. Luckily, it was till the height of wildflower season and we saw several beautiful blooms. In fact, that’s what preoccupied much of our visit – anytime we’d see a new, interesting wildflower we’d stop and check it out. Luckily, there are several convenient places to park.

Temperatures hovered around 80 degrees but there was a cool breeze which allowed for comfortable hiking. I was hoping to spot some of Joshua Tree’s native animals like the jackrabbit or iguana but didn’t spot anything other than lizards. And the Hummingbird Hawk-Moth. It was everywhere!

I’ve never seen anything like it. I was convinced it was a hummingbird but my mom insisted it was a moth and (wouldn’t you know?) she was right. Fascinating.

One of the spots the ranger recommended was Keys View which provides a vista of the Coachella Valley. It sounded great to us so we headed out and came upon an impressive view.

From the mountains to the (Salton) sea – simply incredible.

It really was the perfect day to visit the park and despite the large quantity of visitors it never felt crowded. California is home to so much natural beauty and the desert landscape is truly special. I’m so happy the national parks exist so that generations to come may continue to view these wonders.

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