California’s Joshua Tree National Park encompasses nearly 800,000 acres, including parts of two deserts; the lower elevation Colorado Desert and the higher Mojave Desert. Reg and I were here about 40 years ago, tent camping with friends Tom and Joan during a blazing hot spring weekend. Neither of us had much memory of the park, so we were up early to reacquaint ourselves and beat the crowds.
While the park is large, the most popular sights are located in relatively small areas. We began our day with a short walk along an unmarked path through a spectacular maze of boulders. We turned back before too long, not wanting to lose our way. I’m sort of a chicken about that.
In 1994, Joshua Tree National Monument officially became Joshua Tree National Park, adding 234,000 acres. Much of the park is designated wilderness. There are no facilities beyond vault toilets, so bring a full tank of gas, your water and a picnic lunch.
In addition to Skull Rock, we couldn’t leave the park without visiting Arch Rock and Heart Rock, two more “must see” stops. It was a challenge to snap photos of the three iconic rock formations without the crowds. Even on a Tuesday with the cool weather and gray skies, parking was tight and visitors were scrambling all over the rocks…so don’t expect to have the place to yourself!