Just Go to Joshua Tree National Park – A Full Day of Hiking and Advent – Just Go Travel Studios

Just Go to Joshua Tree National Park – A Full Day of Hiking and Adventures (Part 1 of 2)

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

 

Many of the millions of people who go to Joshua Tree National Park each year are seeking photographs of Joshua trees, an iconic plant which actually grows throughout much of the Mojave Desert. However, on our first visit to the park, we discovered that Joshua Tree has so much more to offer than just Joshua trees. And, to truly experience the beauty of the desert, it is worth your while to get out of your car, take a few hikes, scramble over some rocks and see the desert up close.

Our kids might say that we run them a little ragged on days when we are exploring National Parks, but I doubt they’d say that any of the hikes or stops we made along the way were wasted time. They share our love of travel and exploring the parks as much as we do. However, they are still kids; and, although they seem to have limitless energy at times, they are prone to running out of steam. We knew we only had about 12 hours to spend in the park, so we did what we do best, which is to prioritize and try to cram as much into the day as is humanly possible with three kids!

{NOTE: Before you set out on any trails, no matter the time of year, bring plenty of water and wear sunscreen.  There isn’t much or any shelter on many of the hikes, and you can still get a sunburn (like we did) or end up dehydrated even in the winter!}

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INDIAN COVE NATURE TRAIL

Joshua Tree National Park

We usually like to stop at the visitor center before hitting any trails but knew we were unlikely to make it back to the Twentynine Palms area (where we spent the previous night). So, we googled the NPS site for Joshua Tree to get our bearings, grabbed our coffee in town, drove through the Indian Cove campground and located our first hike of the day--the Indian Cove Nature Trail. Our morning stroll was a good way to warm up for the longer hikes, take a closer look at the desert plants and learn about their traditional uses by Native Americans. The kids spotted a couple jack rabbits, viewed their first cholla cactus up close (heed the safety warnings!) and found a bird nest hidden amongst the spines of a pencil cholla. This 0.6 mile trail took us less than 30 minutes.

Joshua Tree National Park

 

 

 

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FORTYNINE PALMS OASIS

Joshua Tree National Park

We loaded into the car and headed to our next hike of the morning: Fortynine Palms Oasis. From the time we started the hike until we arrived at the oasis, we only ran into a few people. We heard this was a popular hike, but I guess February mornings are ideal since we had the trail and oasis nearly to ourselves! The trail climbed up gradually and wound around a rocky ridge dotted with barrel cactus. The early part of the trail was cold and blustery. I can’t imagine hiking in the heat with the lack of trees and quick elevation gain. However, heat wasn’t a problem on the day we hiked, and our two youngest kids surprised us by nearly running the whole trail! Beyond the ridge, we descended into an oasis of fan palms peeking out from the rocky canyon. We stopped to take pictures, rehydrate and have a quick snack. Then our kids were off and running again! The trail guides recommend 2-3 hours for this 3 mile hike. However, our crew finished in just under an hour and a half. It should be noted that there is an elevation gain of 300 feet in both directions.

 Joshua Tree National Park

 

CHOLLA CACTUS GARDEN

Joshua Tree National Park

After a quick stop at the Oasis Visitor Center, we drove south to Cholla Cactus Garden. This is a great short, nature hike for everyone. Here you will see a dense collection of thousands of naturally growing cholla cactus. However, this is one of those trails that you want to be sure to stay on. Be aware that those really cool looking cactuses have very sharp needles, and you’ll want to keep an extra close eye on children! Our three got the lecture before we entered the trail, but I did bring my tweezers, just in case. The trail is only 0.25 miles, and you’ll want to be sure to take lots of pictures. Allow 15-30 minutes here.

Joshua Tree National Park

 

LIVE OAK

Joshua Tree National Park

We decided to skip the Cottonwood Spring / Lost Palm Oasis area due to time (plus we had already hiked to Fortynine Palms Oasis). We headed back northwest to have lunch at Live Oak. Although there are picnic tables here, we opted to picnic on a boulder with an awesome view. Afterwards the kids did some rock scrambling. This is also a great spot for photos with some of the unusually shaped boulders.

Joshua Tree National Park

Stay tuned for Part 2!  Follow us on Facebook for our next update!

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Download our NATIONAL PARK ROAD TRIP PLANNER and 5 GREAT ROAD TRIP ITINERARIES:

OTHER USEFUL LINKS:

 

The Blond Abroad: Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree National Park: Things You Should Know Before Your Trip

Hikes and nature trails in Joshua Tree National Park

Hotels in Twentynine Palms

Hotels in Yucca Valley

Campgrounds inside the park

Campgrounds outside the park

 

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