Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Walters Go West Part 2: Joshua Tree National Park

We departed Williams, AZ early on Friday morning and headed to Joshua Tree National Park.   We entered the park from the North (in Twenty Nine Palms, CA).  But before entering, we grabbed some yummy pizza (that reminded me a bit of Homeslice Pizza in Austin) at Pie for the People.  Then, we made a stop at the Joshua Tree National Park visitor center on the way into the park and grabbed some trail maps and some Junior Ranger booklets.    We were ready to explore!

Luke was practically salivating as we drove to our first hiking destination and he saw all of the awesome boulders to climb.   After we parked near the Hidden Valley hiking loop, he pretty much sprinted to the trail and asked if he could go climb. 


Luke wasted no time at all in finding a big boulder to climb.


There were lots of "Look at me Mommy!" comments.
Drew and the kids under one of the cool Joshua Trees

Abbey found a great little spot under a Joshua Tree to complete some Junior Ranger assignments.

When we spotted this group of boulders, we were all excited to climb.  There were amazing views at the top.

Here is a little video of the park when we were hiking in the Hidden Springs area.

And we found a great little spot for a family photo, thanks to the dslr self timer.


These two seriously amazed me the whole trip!  No complaining or whining, just sheer joy, giggles, and excitement!  They were so proud of all the accomplished and climbed.

"Look at me mommy!"

There was so much cool fauna in this dessert environment.  We read that the environment actually used to be pretty lush, but with all the hiking traffic it has gradually been reduced.
At Joshua Tree National Park, we were in an environment that we had never experienced:  an area where two very distinct desert ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado, come together.  There are such cool geologic features and we experienced so much wonder in this vast wilderness!  The Hidden Valley trail was a great one for families.  There was so much to explore and climb and see, and yet it was only a little over a mile loop.  Of course, it took us a couple of hours to do this hike, because of all the fun things to climb and explore.  We were on rocks way more than we were on the trail.  :-)



Not only were there amazing rocks to climb, but Luke also found a couple of neat trees to climb.
The kids were feeling strong and got a great workout as we hiked this amazing place!



I found a little crevice in a huge rock.  Drew asked me to sit inside for a photo.
So much to take in.  So much wonder!

While the kids were exploring (in the background), Drew and I took the time to snap a quick picture of the two of us with our dslr self timer.  We don't have many pictures of us together and this year is our 10 year wedding anniversary!


After we hiked Hidden Valley, we headed to Barker Dam to hike.  There, we saw a water tank built by early cattle ranchers.  Big horn sheep are known to roam the area as well.  The hike itself is only a mile and a half round trip, so it is a great hike for families.  This was another perfect hike if you enjoy bouldering as there are hundreds of different places you can climb and explore at every turn.

The water was like glass here:  a mirror that reflected the gorgeous rocks.

You can see the cool mountains in the background here.

Joshua trees are just so cool!
On our way back, as we were near the parking lot, we found the ancient petroglyphs and pictographs mentioned on the trail map.  Long before white settlers discovered the beauty, the Cahuilla Indians inhabited the area.  The Cahuilla Indians left their mark on the land in a number of ways.   The most visible of those being petroglyphs (carved designs in rock) and pictographs (painted designs on rock). Numerous petroglyph and pictograph locations lie within Joshua Tree National Park and the surrounding areas.  We were so excited to see in person something we learned about in our history curriculum, "Story of the World."  Below, Abbey is pointing to some of them.


We absolutely love Joshua Tree National Park and are so glad we made this stop on our Western Adventure.  This area was just perfect for our family of hikers and climbers.  The landscape is unique and not like anything we had seen before.  Like the Grand Canyon, in some ways it just seemed surreal.  I highly recommend visiting if you are in the area.  Next up on our adventure--Disney!  We headed straight to Anaheim after our adventure at Joshua Tree National Park to stay the night so we would be close to Disneyland California Adventure, where we would be going the next morning.  Stay tuned for a post all about our adventures at the Disney parks.  It was our kids' first Disney experience.

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