Visiting Joshua Tree National Park for the First Time!
Randy and I have both lived in California for most of our lives and neither of us have ever visited Joshua Tree National Park (Park). While planning out our upcoming trips, we were looking for an adventure close to home for a quick day trip.
While researching this trip, we decided to make it a little more interesting, so we booked a campsite at Jumbo Rocks Campground. The majority of the 500 campsites in the park are available by reservation only from September to May. Reservations can be made up to 6 months in advance using recreation.gov. We made our reservation in August.
The drive to the Park from our home is approximately 1.5 hours, since check-in to the campground was not until noon, we stopped at the visitor center to pick up a park map so we can have an idea of the spots we wanted to visit before heading to the campground later in the afternoon. After looking at the map we picked Arch Trail as our first stop of the day.
Arch trail is an easy short hike perfect for those hot days. It is approximately 1.3 miles and should only take around 30 minutes or so.
We took the time to have a quick snack in the shade provided underneath the arch. Afterwards, we decided to explore the surrounding boulders and rocks. Exploring the area feels like we've just landed on a planet out of Star Wars. There are many different paths to take and rocks to climb, but be sure to wear the proper footwear for this trail. The rocks are called white tank granite and are very jagged. Take your time, watch your footing, and be careful.
Speaking of being on another planet, our next stop was the Cholla Cactus Garden. This nature trail is an easy flat loop that will take approximately 15 to 30 minutes. The garden features thousands of densely concentrated, naturally growing cholla cactus the have often been referred to as being out of a Dr. Seuss book. Remember to stay on trail and be aware of the prickly cactus.
As you know by now, Open Road 4Two loves a good off-road trail. We found Stirrup Tank Road, which is just off of Pinto Basin Road near White Tank Campground. The road is about 1.5 miles and ends at a small parking loop. When dry, the dirt road does not require a 4x4 vehicle and most 2wd vehicles can navigate it without issue.
What was exciting about this place was that we had the entire area to ourselves. While exploring the area we did not encounter any other park visitors. We found a really cool rock formation that looked like the melted helmet of Darth Vader, a secret cave, and a cool spot for napping.
Joshua Tree National Park is such a beautiful, wondrous, and magical place. We found there is way too much to explore in one day. If you have never been we recommend putting Joshua Tree National Park on your list of places to visit. Be sure to watch our full adventure on our YouTube channel, where we include a review of Jumbo Rocks Campground, Skull Rock Trail, and an amazing desert sunset!
Until next time, we will see you on the Open Road!