The Secret Tours Blog:
Secrets, History, and Campfire Stories

The Secret Tours

The Secret Tours

True Locals who have lived in Joshua Tree for 25+ years each…
…sharing the secrets and lore while protecting the desert landscape…

COMPLETE ULTIMATE GUIDE:
Joshua Tree National Park:
Every single location inside the Park

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on reddit
Reddit

Welcome...

…to the magical and mysterious village of Joshua Tree California.  We are absolutely thrilled you have embarked on such a glorious adventure!  Our ULTIMATE GUIDE is very, very, very long with 150 stops, but it is the “Complete Ultimate Guide” and all.  HAHA!  Plus you want to make memories that last a lifetime. We had to make it as long as it needed to be.  Can you even guess how long of a drive it is?  Get ready for this… 161.2 miles and a minimum of 6 hours and 19 minutes.  When you add in a little bit of hiking, picture-taking, picnicking, and bathroom breaks, it can add up to a LOT of time!  To give you some perspective, taking 5-minutes at each location would bump that up to 17 hours!   With our COMPLETE ULTIMATE GUIDE, you are going to be able to pick and choose what to do so YOUR adventure is spectacular and is completely YOURS.  Plus you will know so much more than the other 2,988,547 visitors that were here in 2019.  Yes, that is 6 people per minute 24/7/365 visiting without any plan whatsoever…but not you!  

If you are looking to enhance your visit, you can buy one of our self-guided tours.  Our app-based tours will work with zero cellular/data service.  We will warn you now, there is no cellular/data service inside the Park, but our tours will still work just fine!  We have plenty of tour options that focus on the three main areas of Joshua Tree: Inside the Park, Outside the Park, and Inside the JT Village. Choose from virtual tours to prepare you for your future visit and real-life tours to make your actual visit more fun.  The tours are a mash-up of an escape room, treasure hunt, scavenger hunt, and adventure travel all in one while leading you via GPS to the best of the best locations of Joshua Tree.  We love making adventure FUN!

SHARE SHARE SHARE.  Share this guide with absolutely everyone you know.  Help the entire world prepare for the Joshua Tree National Park Adventure of their LIFETIME! 

Joshua-Tree-National-Park-Hiking-Camping-Tour-Adventure-Map

Let us help you get your bearings first.  The MAP above is of the massive Joshua Tree National Park.  The BLUE line is Park Boulevard and is the main loop that winds through the Park from Joshua Tree to 29 Palms.  The GREEN line is the road that leads you out to Keys View, a must-see for the mini Gran Canyon-esque “view”.  The YELLOW line leads you out to Barker Dam and the Wall Street Mill, also must see mini-hikes that are worth the walk.  The RED line is Pinto Basin Road that leads you to the south entrance and the Cottonwood Visitor Center.  As you can see from the map, it is a HUGE Park with lots of options and fun locations… 161.2-miles type huge.  And the roads will be the limit of where most of us will go…so our COMPLETE ULTIMATE GUIDE focuses on the areas we can all comfortably drive and hike.

Joshua-Tree-National-Park-Tour-Adventure-Hking-Camping-Exhibit Ahead-Parking-Turnout-Map

A quick note.  Whenever you see one of our location titles that starts with “EXHIBIT AHEAD:”  that means you will be driving up to a small roadside turnout parking area with an informational plaque on the side of the road.  See the image above of your first turnout at the “EXHIBIT AHEAD: Barren or Bountiful” as an example.  If you have 17+ hours to visit the Park, we suggest stopping at every single one of these locations and taking it ALL in like we did.  If you are trying to save time and visit the most picturesque locations, you will more than likely skip the “EXHIBIT AHEAD:” locations.  Fear not.  This COMPLETE ULTIMATE GUIDE has pictures of every single one of the locations and their respective plaques.  We even transcribe them for you.  As you can see in the image above, you can fit around (8) cars into the “EXHIBIT AHEAD” parking areas so that is why you should be prepared for a lot of traffic jams throughout your day.

Let's begin this
National Park Adventure

If you see a double-underlined “EPIC” at any of our locations, that means we think it is a MUST-SEE!

1. The JTVC

Joshua-Tree-National-Park Visitor-Center-Park-Boulevard-Hiking-Camping-Tour-Adventure-Visitor-Center

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW OF THE VISITOR CENTER

MILEAGE: 0.0 (All mileages are from this starting location)
TIME: 00:00 (All times are from this starting location)
All “MILEAGE” and “TIME” are as if you drove non-stop.  Remember to plan on adding a LOT more time and distance to the overall time/mileage of your adventure.  Laying it out as a simple “non-stop time” isn’t realistic because you are going to stop to enjoy the views, hike, take pictures, picnic, climb, boulder, et cetera.  We did that to show you the bare bones minimum so you can plan ahead and choose where you spend your time.

All EPIC adventures have a starting point, and we always use The Joshua Tree National Park Visitor Center as the launchpad for all of our virtual and real-life tours. The building is broken into two halves: one half contains a well-stocked gift shop, and the other half houses all of the National Park exhibits. This is a must-see location when you visit Joshua Tree, regardless of if you plan to drive into the National Park or not.  This is where you can buy your souvenirs and get all of the maps and info yo may need during your trip.  If you are looking for more fun souvenirs, you can try The Station or Coyote Corner, especially for the cool retro type of items you would expect to find in JT.  The JTNP Visitor Center is run by the National Park Service (NPS) so you will see uniformed Rangers throughout the building.  Definitely stop here no matter what.
Open: 8 am to 5 pm
Phone: 760-366-1855
Address: 6554 Park Boulevard, Joshua Tree, CA 92256

2. The Age Of a Joshua Tree

Joshua-Tree-National-Park-Visitor-Center-hiking-camping-tour-adventure-Age-Of-Tree-Exhibit

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW OF THE INSIDE OF THE VISITOR CENTER

MILEAGE: 0.0
TIME: 00:00

This is our favorite exhibit inside the JTVC  We use it as the first stop on all of our self-guided tours.  The plaques you see around the base of the tree teach you several things, but most importantly, they teach you how to know the age of a Joshua Tree based on its height just by looking at it.  That’s a fun skill to have in your back pocket.  When you see the 45′ tall Joshua Tree inside the Park at location #72 and #73, you will know it has been alive for 360 years, against all odds.

3. Coachella Party God
aka "Pound Cat"

Joshua-Tree-National-Park-Hiking-Camping-Tour-Adventure-Coachella-Party-God-Pound-Cat

MILEAGE: 4.5
TIME: 00:10
This location can be found BEFORE you enter the Park and the third stop on our NATIONAL PARK TOUR   The Coachella Party God, aka “Pound Cat”, was center stage in the 2015 Coachella Fest.  Coachella has become the largest and most well-known festival in the world.  This white and grey Portuguese marble statue was created by Niki and Simon Haas, two brothers who are internationally acclaimed artists and designers.   A team of 20 people worked on the sculpture, up to 18 hours a day for almost three months to complete the commission on time. Once completed, the statue shipped from Portugal to Coachella California, just in time for Coachella Fest.  The “Pound Cat” weighs in at 98,000 pounds and is one of the locations on our National Park Tour.  After the Coachella Festival ended, the brothers placed the 98,000-pound, 16’ tall statue, pedestal, and steps on their property in Joshua Tree.

*Side Adventure:

Joshua-Tree-National-Park-Hiking-Camping-Tour-Adventure-Coachella-Party-God-Pund-Cat-Train-Museum

The Coachella Party God watches over south Joshua Tree from its pedestal near the National Park .  If you stand with your back against Pound Cat’s massive beer belly and look where his eyes are looking, you will see the Hidden Train Museum in the mountains.  Of course you can visit the Train Museum later!  You can even camp there!  Knowing there is a train off in the distance will help you solve one of the clues on our National Park Tour.

4. West Entrance/Exit Joshua Tree

Joshua-Tree-National-Park-Hiking-Camping-Tour-Adventure-West-Entrance-Park-Boulevard

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 6.0
TIME: 00:15
The West Entrance is also known as the Joshua Tree gate where visitors can enter/exit the Park. We will warn you now, as you can see this is a single-lane entrance and the traffic wait times can be extremely long.  You might even see signs as you’re driving into town that warn you to use the 29 Palms “Utah Trail” entrance.  If you choose to do that, just scroll to the bottom of our ULTIMATE GUIDE and do everything backwards from bottom to top.  That will kind of work.  Haha!  To be honest, we are just REALLY partial to entering from Joshua Tree.

You can see three cars parked on the right side of the image above.  There are rest rooms and an information board here for visitors.  From this point forward, the rest rooms are all outhouse style bathrooms so this is your last taste of civilization for a while.  This is also the LAST PLACE  you will have cellular/data reception.  Make your last phone calls and send a text message to your loved ones so they know you will be off the grid for a while.  You don’t want to appear missing for 6-17 hours without warning everyone first.  You can also send them this ULTIMATE GUIDE in a text so they can see the path you’re going to take.  Hey, that’s a great idea!  Share this ULTIMATE GUIDE with all of your friends and family to track your adventure!!!

“Hey.  It’s me.  We are driving into the Joshua Tree National Park and they say there is no reception inside.  We will be off the grid for around 6- 17 hours.  You can still text me, but I will not be able to text back.  I will send pictures of all the awesome locations we see on the 
National Park Tour.”

5. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 6.4
TIME: 00:16
You will see a parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.  It is a parking pull-out designed to allow visitors to take in the views, but offers no information.  They are obviously still beautiful locations to stop and take in the landscape and take pictures of the Park in all its grandeur.  We list these parking areas so you can keep track of where you are and know how many stops you can make in the Park.

TRIVIA:

Which famous celebrities below have WILD unbelievable stories that connect them to Joshua Tree?
a. Johnny Depp
b. Tim Burton
c. Jason Momoa
d. Dolph Lundgren
e. All of the Above

The Answer Is

6. Maze Loop Trailhead

MILEAGE: 7.8
TIME: 00:20
The loops are generally busy because this is so close to the Park Entrance.  The small dirt parking area is very small with only space for a few cars.  There are amazing vista views from mountain peaks, window arch type rock formations, and rock formations that look like common times like a fan, bighorn sheep, and a dog head.  Remember you have a LOT to see ahead of you and you have only just begun…to live!  
There are (5) hikes here:
The Maze Loop: 4.7 miles with an elevation gain of 360 feet
North View and Maze Trails: 5.9 miles with an elevation gain of 685 feet
Maze Loop, Window Trail, and North View: 7.2 miles with an elevation gain of 853 feet
Big Pine Trail: 8.5 miles with an elevation gain of 836 feet
North Canyon Trail: 3.7 miles with an elevation gain of 488 feet

Throughout our entire BLOG, we use All Trails for any hike information we mention.  We link you to their site because they are the most professional, thorough, and easy to read sites for hiking details.  
DOWNLOAD THEIR APP BEFORE YOU GO

7. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 8.0
TIME: 00:21
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.
If you love this Ultimate Guide to the Joshua Tree National Park…
Share our Ultimate Guide on Facebook
Share our Ultimate Guide on Twitter
Share our Ultimate Guide on LinkedIn
Share our Ultimate Guide on Pinterest
Email Us your comments, concerns, and beneficial suggestions…

8. Exhibit Ahead: Barren or Bountiful

Joshua-Tree-National-Park-hiking-camping-tour-adventure-barren-or-beautiful

MILEAGE: 8.4
TIME: 00:22
This is your first “EXHIBIT AHEAD:” plaque that we described to you earlier. They are all educational in nature and definitely worth the read if you have 17 hours to explore the Park.  Perhaps you can read them all here in our COMPLETE ULTIMATE GUIDE and choose where you may wish to stop, read, take pictures?

We transcribed the plaque for you below: 
Barren or Bountiful
It seems to me that the strangeness and wonder of existence are emphasized here, in the desert, by the comparative sparsity of the flora and fauna; life not crowded upon life…with a generous gift of space for each herb and bush and tree, each stem of grass, so that the living organism stands out bold and brave and vivid against the lifeless sand and barren rock.  Look around you.  Perhaps you see a stark land that nature never quite got around to finishing.  or you may see potential mineral wealth, defense testing grounds, alternative energy sources, or a vast recreational playground.  Or maybe you see the desert for what it is – a diverse, thriving ecosystem.  Deserts are not deserted, but teeming with life – insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals; algae, fungi, cacti, flowers, shrubs, and trees.  All are well adapted to conserve water, cope with temperature extremes, escape predators, and survive the sun, wind, and sometimes torrential rains in this exposed environment.  The genius of desert plants and animals for locating and retaining water will amaze, baffle, and surprise you.  For desert life, survival is an art.”  

TRIVIA:  How many of these plaques have a twin somewhere else in the Park?  You would assume they would all be different but they chose to duplicate (5) of the plaques and, of course, only we would notice and mention it.  HAHA!  So which ones are they?  It would be so mean to make you figure it out on your own so here you go:

Barren or Bountiful appears in location # 8 + #142
Tree of Life appears in #50 + #99
What’s Wrong With This Picture appears in #57 + #58
We Have Contact is the only plaque that is TRIPLED and appears in #60 + #62 + #105
Colorado Desert appears in #132 and #134 

9. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 10.0
TIME: 00:23
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

10. Exhibit Ahead: Memorial Fire

Joshua-tree-national-park-hiking-camping-tour-adventure-memorial-fire-plaque

MILEAGE: 10.5 
TIME: 00:25
We transcribed the plaque for you below:
Memorial Fire
The sky filled with smoke, roads and trails were closed, and some campgrounds had to be evacuated. -1999.  No one predicted it; and no one would have guessed its size. What started as a typical holiday weekend turned into a hellish event that torched nearly 14,000 acres, the largest fire in the park’s history.  On May 27, 1999, a passing thunderstorm sparked four fires.  A common occurrence, but coupled with a tinderbox of non-native grasses that now choke the once open spaces of the desert landscape, a flash point was reached.  High winds fanned the flames and the fires raged out of control.  The primary concern of park managers was to keep firefighters and visitors safe.  Unabated, fire flames reached 40 to 60 foot heights.  The fires’ spread was startling, but firefighters prevailed in stopping the blaze.  You are standing at the eastern most edge of the burn, contained by firefighters on Sunday, May 30, 1999, Memorial Day Weekend.

INTERMISSION:

You have been going strong now for (10) locations into The Joshua Tree National Park.  Enjoy our fun video clips and information about The Joshua Tree area that we will show you after every (10) locations as an “Intermission.”  That will give you time to take a break and take all of this in!

This is our teaser video of all the locations found on The Secret Tour XL.

There is a LOT TO SEE ON OUR MEDIA PAGE:

11. Quail Springs Picnic Area

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-quail-springs-3
joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-quail-springs-4

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW
There are 40+ 360-degree views here for your enjoyment

MILEAGE: 11.8
Time: 00:27
Quail Springs is a small picnic area that is a perfect start of what the Park is like.  Wonderful trees, grand rock faces, picnic tables, and BBQ grills.  Most of the campgrounds and picnic areas in the Park will be similar to this.  There are only eight tables here so you will have to get here early if you want to lock one down.  This is our night time favorite as well.  The Park closes at night but does not close its gates.  In other words, if you want to star gaze and hear the howling of coyotes in the distance in complete darkness and silence, it won’t cost you anything at the gate.  That’s a plus!  You can bring $30 worth of nighttime snacks instead!  And this is really close to the gate and the short trip back to civilization.  
There is one hike here:
Quail Wash to West Entrance: 17.9 miles with an elevation gain of 1,614 feet

12. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 12.0
TIME: 00:27
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

13. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 12.2
TIME: 00:28
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

14. Boy Scout Trailhead

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-boy-scout-trailhead-2

CLICK HERE FOR A SNOW-COVERED 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 12.5
TIME: 00:29
The Boy Scout Trail takes you to the Indian Cove Campground so people generally aren’t going on this hike if they are taking the day to drive through the Park.  There is a large parking area because groups that plan this hike normally leave their cars either here or in Indian Cove Campground so they don’t have to come back the same way they came.  We take you to the Indian Cove Campground on our Virtual and Real-Life Tours.  Indian Cove is a secret GEM!  The rock formations in Indian Cove rival some of the best in the Park, and there are secret caves as well.  Best part?  It is FREE to drive in and the campground is less known so you can reserve campsites there much easier!  Plus we love the Indian Cove Market that is just down the street from the entrance!   There are (5) Total hikes here though so its not “only” the Boy Scout Trail:
Boy Scout Trail: 7.8 one-way / 15.6 roundtrip with an elevation gain of 173 feet
Reggie Dome: 0.9 mileswith an elevation gain of 52 feet
Quail Mountain Trail: 15.2 miles with an elevation gain of 2217 feet
Wonderland of Rocks Traverse: 5.5 miles with an elevation gain of 147
Willow Hole Trail: 6.8 miles with an elevation gain of 246 feet

We have transcribed the plaque below:
Hidden Life
The desert is often thought of as lifeless or sterile.  It is far from it.  Even the desert soil is full of organisms, a living crust composed of microscopic plants that require the Sun’s light for photosynthesis.  The crust, called cryptobiotic, meaning “hidden life”, resists wind and water erosion.  It slows and absorbs water runoff, and provides essential nutrients to desert plants.  Hidden within the soil crust are cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), lichens, mosses, green algae, fungi, and bacteria.  The cyanobacteria are the dominant plants.  When wet, their sticky filaments grow through the soil, binding rock and soil particles, thus forming the rigid but fragile soil-crust you see here.  Don’t tread on this soil.  Walking off trails or driving off roads destroys the fragile cryptobiotic soil crusts.  It takes decades for this living, soil protecting surface to recover. Help protect it by staying on trails and driving vehicles on established roadways.

15. Parking Area with no Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE MOUNTAINTOP VIEW

MILEAGE: 12.7
TIME: 00:29
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

Trivia

How many miles does it take to drive through the entire Joshua Tree National Park?
a. 77.0
b. 105.6
c. 161.2
d. 55.4

This answer is

16. (2) Parking Areas with no Plaques

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 13.1
TIME: 00:30
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

17. Parking Area with no Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 13.1 (220 feet further down the road)
TIME: 00:31
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

18. Lost Horse Ranger Station

joshua-tree-national-park-hiking-camping-tour-adventure-lost-horse-ranger-station-intersection-road

MILEAGE: 13.6
TIME: 00:36
There are two ways to go when you reach the unmarked intersection: North and South.  The NORTH path has a sign posted that reads, “PRIVATE PROPERTY DO NOT ENTER.”  We do not exactly know what is going on down that road.  From the Satellite maps, we can see around 20 new buildings, 5 old wood structures, and lots of roads and paths and vehicles all around the area.  We will do our best to figure out the mystery.  Our guess is another mine holding 10,000 ounces of gold.  Haha!

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-lost-horse-ranger-station-locked-gate-ahead
joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-lost-horse-ranger-station-locked-gate-ahead-2

CLICK HERE FOR A PICTURE OF THE LHRS on 30APR1969
CLICK HERE FOR A PICTURE OF THE LHRS TODAY

The SOUTH path has a short asphalt paved section with bathrooms.  The paved parking area continues onto a dirt road and winds out of view from here.  It leads to the 
JTNP Lost Horse Ranger Station.  You will meet up with a locked gate and a DO NOT ENTER SIGN.  Our assumption is they only want the artist in residence to drive back there?  A web search for Lost Horse returns results about the Lost Horse Mine and VERY little about the ranger station. The most we could find out about the Lost Horse Ranger Station is that the park rents it out to artists as a retreat.  We pasted the info we found below:

Description: 

The purpose of the Joshua Tree National Park Artist-In-Residence & Affiliate Artist Programs is to provide artistic and educational opportunities to promote deeper understanding of and dialogue about the natural, cultural, and historical resources of Joshua Tree National Park and the deserts of Southern California.The Joshua Tree National Park Artist-In-Residence Program is exclusively owned and operated by the National Park Service and managed in partnership with the Riverside Art Museum. The program offers visual, performing, and literary artists a residency preferably from 2-6 weeks long (special requests are considered on a case-by-case basis).  The Joshua Tree National Park Affiliate Artist Program offers visual, performing, and literary artists an Affiliate Artist status for a one-year period (special requests are considered for longer residencies) to access Joshua Tree National Park for research and development of projects related to the park. The Affiliate Artist program does not provide lodging/accommodations at the Lost Horse Ranger Station, but does support year-round access and/or camping in the park. All selected artists to the Affiliate Artist program will receive a one-year access pass to JTNP and eligibility for a special one-year Individual Artist membership with benefits from the Riverside Art Museum.  Artists are asked to donate to the park an original piece of artwork and/or appropriate professional documentation of their writing, music, or performance from their residency in Joshua Tree National Park.  The accommodations within the park are located at the Lost Horse Ranger Station, a rustic and self-sufficient cabin with nearby panoramic views of the park.

19. Parking Area with no Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 15.0
TIME: 00:43
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

20. Hemingway

joshua-tree-national-park-hiking-camping-climbing-tour-adventure-hemingway-classic-lines

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 15.1
TIME: 00:44
Hemingway Buttress is considered one of the longest formations in JTNP.  In 1979, Herb Laeger managed to climb one of the formations with a dizzying overhang called “Head Over Heals.” This soon became the most interesting and popular climb in the Park. In time, there were other routes and alternatives were found to Head Over Heals, but it has remained famous since the beginning!  

We have transcribed plaque #1 below:
Classic Lines
 Nature has sculpted the “classic lines” – cracks and folds – in the rocks, like those found here at Hemingway Buttress. Joshua Tree National Park is a rock climber’s paradise. The rough textures of the granite rock and the warm, sunny conditions here make it a very climbable place.  When other climbing hotspots are covered in snow Joshua Tree draws climbers from far and wide.  More than 5,000 climbing routes are described within the park and still more are being pioneered.

There are two signs at the Hemingway Buttress. We transcribed plaque #2 below:
Rock Piles
The rock formation in front of you was once a solid mass of granite – mozogranite.  it formed 85 million years ago from magma crystallizing some 15 miles beneath your feet.  Earthquakes stressed and cracked the rock.  Mountain uplifting moved the rock closer to the Earth’s surface. Groundwater seeped into the cracks, rounding and shaping the rock blocks.  Further uplifting and erosion exposed the rock above ground.  Once exposed, weathering and erosion continued the sculpting and breakdown of the granite, making the rock inviting and challenging to the area rock climbers.

INTERMISSION:

You have been going strong now for (20) locations into The Joshua Tree National Park.  Enjoy our fun video clips and information about The Joshua Tree area that we will show you after every (10) locations as an “Intermission.”  That will give you time to take a break and take all of this in!  
There is a LOT TO SEE ON OUR MEDIA PAGE:

21. Parking Area with no Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 15.4
TIME: 00:45
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

22. Exhibit Ahead: Woodland Bounty

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW (Bouldering up the hill)

MILEAGE: 15.8
TIME: 00:46

We transcribed the plaque below:
Woodland Bounty
This patch of woods, dominated by pinyon pine (Pinus monophylla), is a glimpse of the plant life you find in the higher mountains.  And it represents the only kind of woodland forest found in the park. In late summer and early fall, these plants offer highly nutritious foods to wildlife, and for centuries, these same foods were important to the desert people. (Cahuilla Indians).  Pine needles accumulate on the woodland floor, while shrubs like mountain mahogany, scrub oak, and antelope brush fill the spaces beneath the pines and interspersed juniper trees.  The trees provide abundant shade and shelter as well as food in the form of pine nuts, juniper berries, and acorns.  Gray foxes, dusky chipmunks, pinyon mice, mountain quail, and pinyon and scrub jays are attracted to this woodland community.

23. Hidden Valley Picnic Area

joshua-tree-national-park-camping-hiking-climbing-tour-adventure-hidden-valley-picnic-area-2
joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-hidden-valley-trailhead-2

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW
There are 70+ 360-degree views here for your enjoyment.

Mile Marker: 16.5
Time: 00:47
Hidden Valley is an awesome place to relax, have a picnic, and climb on easy little boulders.  This is definitely a family oriented location.  Way back in 1936, Bill Keys (of Keys Ranch and Keys View) established a gap between the wall to move his cattle herds through. Today, this is the main access point of Hidden Valley.  Don’t skip out on hiking to the nearby rock formations with awesome names like: The Blob, Locomotion Rock, Cyclops Rock, and Turtle Rock. 

There are three hiking trails that start in the Hidden Valley Picnic Area:
Hidden Valley Nature Trail: 1-mile loop with an elevation gain of 114 feet
Candlestein Hiking Trail: 4-mile loop with an elevation gain of 416 feet
Rock Caves Loop:   4.1-mile loop with an elevation gain of 282 feet

24. Intersection Rock

Joshua-tree- national-park-hiking-camping-climbing-tour-adventure-intersection-rock

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 17.0
Time: 00:48
Intersection Rock is located at the center of Joshua Tree National Park.  This monzonite is 1,500 feet in height!  This wonderful little slice of climbing heaven is seen as the birthplace of climbing in Joshua Tree.

Joshua Tree was considered a practice area for climbers in 1950s and 1960s.  In 1970, a member of a climber group known as the Desert Rats, John Wolfe, published the first climber’s guidebook of Joshua Tree. The National Park Service claims that this book initiated the climbing tradition in Joshua Tree.  Joshua Tree has a mystical and mysterious nature which makes it unique from all of the other (61) National Parks. 

25. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 17.0 plus 190′
TIME: 00:48
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

Trivia

What famous roadside attraction is located nearby “outside the Park” as seen on The Secret Tour?

a. World’s Largest Ball of Twine
b. World’s Largest Light Bulb
c. World’s Largest Boulder
d. World’s Largest Thermometer

This answer is

26. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 17.2
TIME: 00:48
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.
If you love this Ultimate Guide to the Joshua Tree National Park…
Share our Ultimate Guide on Facebook
Share our Ultimate Guide on Twitter
Share our Ultimate Guide on LinkedIn
Share our Ultimate Guide on Pinterest
Email Us your comments, concerns, and beneficial suggestions…

27. Hidden Valley Campground

joshua-tree-national-park-camping-hiking-climbing-tour-adventure-hidden-valley-picnic-area-campground-2

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 17.5
TIME: 00:49
Hidden Valley Campground is very popular with rock climbers due to its location on the souther edge of the Wonderland of Rocks. There are only 44 campsites here so you’re going to have to make sure you plan ahead to lock one in.  There are countless trails and rocks to climb and boulders to boulder.  This is a glorious area for everything that is Joshua Tree!

 There are a total of (500) campsites across the (9) campgrounds in the Joshua Tree National Park:

The first five campgrounds require reservations September through May at Recreation.Gov.  Black Rock Campground also has (20) equestrian campsites that can only be reserved if you have a horse physically with you.
1. Black Rock: 99 sites.  $20/night. Has Water. 4000′ elevation.
2. Cottonwood: 62 sites.  $20/night. Has Water. 3000′ elevation.
3. Indian Cove: 101 sites.  $20/night. No Water. 3200′ elevation.
4. Jumbo Rocks: 124 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 4400′ elevation.
5. Sheep Pass: 6 sites.  $40-50/night. No Water. 4500′ elevation.
The last four campgrounds are first-come first-serve…with the exception of Ryan Campground which has (4) equestrian campsites that can be reserved only if you have a horse physically with you.  
6. Belle: 18 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 3800′ elevation.
7. Hidden Valley: 44 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 4200′ elevation.
8. Ryan: 31 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 4300′ elevation.
9. White Tank: 15 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 3800′ elevation.

For a little bit of Secret Park trivia, there are actually (524) campsites because for some reason, the NPS doesn’t include equestrian campsites in their totals (500+24=524).

28. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 18.0
TIME: 00:51
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

29. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 18.3
TIME: 00:52
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

30. Echo T Trailhead

joshua-tree-national-park-hiking-climbing-camping-tour-adventure-echo-t-trailhead

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 18.5
TIME: 00:52
This is by far the most neglected and damaged plaque in the park.  As you will notice, Echo T and the Echo T parking area are off the beaten path so they don’t get as much attention as the regularly visited areas.  Visitors only turn down this road if they have scheduled a Ranger-Led visit at Desert Queen Ranch which is just down the road.  The hike from Echo T Trailhead is a 1.1 mile point to point hike to the Barker Dam / Wall Street Mill parking area.  Most people skip this altogether because there are so many other loop hikes available nearby.  The difficulty is “easy” so we will leave it up to you. 

We have transcribed the plaque below:
Echo Rock
If the route name Double Dip doesn’t conger up a challenging face climb in your mind’s eye, then perhaps the Echo Rock Classic Stick To What will.  Treat yourself to Stitcher Quits to the fun named Funny Bone because he hadn’t finished bolting the route before other climbers completed it.  Moderate angles and good rock texture make Echo’s west slope well suited to face climbing. Climbs range from 5.2 (easiest) to 5.12c (most difficult).

 

Intermission:

You have been going strong now for (30) locations into The Joshua Tree National Park.  Enjoy our fun video clips and information about The Joshua Tree area that we will show you after every (10) locations as an “Intermission.”  That will give you time to take a break and take all of this in!  

Allison Anderson shot a really fun and enjoyable VLOG about her Joshua Tree Adventures.  We felt it had the right vibes for you to grab on to when you make your trek out to the high desert.  Upbeat and clean-cut step-by-step vlog of how you can plan it all right!  She drove around the Park randomly and didn’t have an itinerary…the one thing we disagree with.  HAHAHAHA!  You have to know the top 10 locations you can’t skip…only possible with the complete knowledge we teach you in our ULTIMATE GUIDE.  Check out her web site at allisonanderson.com and make sure you see our EPIC-tagged locations!

There is a LOT TO SEE ON OUR MEDIA PAGE:

31. Desert Queen (KEYS) RANCH

joshua-tree-national-park-hiking-climbing-camping-tour-adventure-echo-t-trailhead-Desert-Queen-Ranch-Keys-Ranch
joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-desert-queen-ranch-keys-ranch-blacksmith-shop

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW 

MILEAGE: 20.8
TIME: 1:01

DO NOT drive down the dirt road toward the Desert Queen (Keys) Ranch unless you have a scheduled tour with an NPS Ranger.  The single lane dirt road is very long and narrow, and it is all soft sand.  You will end up seeing the sign and gate in our picture above and you will have to turn around.  Don’t waste your time or have issues meeting up with another car coming towards you on that road.  William F. Keys made the Desert Queen Ranch his home in 1910 and lived there until his death in 1969. It’s hard to imagine that people just “lived” here like their home…right here in this Park!  Bill and his wife Frances raised five children here at the newly named “Keys Ranch.” 

Desert Queen (Keys) Ranch Tour

Keys Ranch Tours are only available by appointment and you will be led by a NPS Ranger.  The tour costs $10 and there is one tour each day between Thursday and Sunday.  If you wish to purchase tickets, the only place that sells them is the JTNP Oasis Visitor Center in 29 Palms. This tour is one of the most popular tours in the park, therefore we strongly suggest that you go as early as possible to secure your place and not miss out the chance to see this place.

32. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 22.1
TIME: 1:07
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

33. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 22.4
TIME: 1:08
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

34. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 22.4 plus 350′
TIME: 1:08
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

35. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 22.5
TIME: 1:08
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

36. Barker Dam

joshua-tree-national-park-hiking-camping-climbing-tour-adventure-barker-dam-wall-street-mill-2
joshua-tree-national-park-hiking-camping-climbing-tour-adventure-barker-dam-wall-street-mill-3

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW OF BARKER DAM
There are a LOT of 360-degree views around the Barker Dam area.

MILEAGE: 22.8
TIME: 1:09
Barker Dam is one of the MUST-SEE hikes in the Park.  It is a short and easy hike suitable for most skill levels.  It is rare to see water in the desert and that makes this location one of the fun ones on your adventures.  Ranchers built Barker Dam many decades ago to save up the most valuable resource in the desert: WATER. This dam provides an ecosystem for many different species of animals and plants. The lake is an excellent resource for the living things in the area and it has a positive impact on the life in Joshua Tree National Park.  Make sure you pay attention to the little signs because both the Barker Dam and Wall Street Mill trails start at the same location. 
There is one hike here:
Barker Dam Nature Trail:  1.3 miles with an elevation gain of 62 feet

 

37. Wall Street Mill

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-wall-street-mill-cart-tracks
joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-wall-street-mill-antique-car

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW OF WALL STREET MILL

MILEAGE: 22.8
TIME: 1:09
Wall Street Mill is an awesome hike because you get to see a lot of the remnants of days past.  The Wonderland Ranch is in an old dilapidated condition with its pretty in pink walls;  such a wonderful backdrop for all kinds of photos.  You will see old equipment and vehicles returning to the dust from whence they came.  It is truly fascinating to see history literally alive in front of your face.  The Wall Street Mill won’t disappoint.  It is a well-preserved gold mill and is protected under the National Register of Historic Places. There is LOTS to see on this short hike! 
Wall Street Mill Trail: 2.4 miles with an elevation gain of 88 feet

38. Desert Queen Mine Trailhead

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-desert-queen-valley-trailhead-2

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW OF THE ROCK HOUSE.
CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW OF THE MINE ENTRANCE.

MILEAGE: 26.8
TIME: 1:20
You have to make a choice here.  You are at the Barker Dam and Wall Street Mill parking lot.  You can return the way you came back on the asphalt road and get back onto Park Boulevard, OR, you an choose to drive on the dirt road and head toward Desert Queen Mine.  Our suggestion? Head Back to the main road if you want to make it through the whole Park in a single day.  By heading toward Desert Queen Mine, you will be cutting across the Park and skipping over Cap Rock, Gram Parson’s Beaver Rock, Keys View, Ryan Mountain Campground, Ryan Ranch, Hall of Horrors, Ryan Mountain, and Sheep Pass Campground.  That is a LOT to miss out on.  Your other option?  Drive out to Queen Valley Mine, take the hike, and drive back the same way you came so you DON’T miss out on all of these awesome locations.  Especially Keys View.  That is the most majestic view of the entire Park.

The Desert Queen Mine is a really FUN hike if you have time.  From the Trailhead, you will have your choice of five hikes in total:
Desert Queen Mine: 3.4 miles with an elevation change of 340 feet
Queen Mountain: 6.2 miles with an elevation change of 1,282 feet
Negro Hill: 1.1 miles with an elevation change of 426 feet
Pine City Trail: 4.1 miles with an elevation change of 170 feet
Lucky Boy Vista: 3.1 miles with an elevation change of 200 feet

Most of the mine entrances have been sealed for safety concerns by the NPS.  Visiting the area and allowing your mind to imagine the life of a mining crew is worth the visit even if you can’t go subterranean.  

39. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 32.3
TIME: 01:33
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

40. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 32.5
TIME: 01:34
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

Intermission:

You have been going strong now for (40) locations into The Joshua Tree National Park.  Enjoy our fun video clips and information about The Joshua Tree area that we will show you after every (10) locations as an “Intermission.”  That will give you time to take a break and take all of this in!  

This is the full length movie titled “Joshua Tree” aka “Army of One” starring Dolph Lungren and Kristian Alfonso   When you have 1 hour and 42 minutes to kill, this is the way to do it.  LOTS of Joshua Trees.  HAHAHA!  Enjoy!  The actors are still mega stars even today.  Watch the first 10 minutes…

There is a LOT TO SEE ON OUR MEDIA PAGE:

41. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 32.7
TIME: 01:35
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

42. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 33.0
TIME: 01:36
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

43. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 33.3
TIME: 01:37
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

44. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 33.5
TIME: 01:38
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

45. Exhibit Ahead: Apostle of the Cacti and the Lost Horse Valley Trail

joshua-tree-national-park-adventure-tour-hiking-camping-climbing-apostle-of-the-cacti-plaque-lost-horse-valley-trail-hike

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 33.7
TIME: 1:38
That was a mouthful.  Lost Horse Valley is HUGE!  We mean like really HUGE.  If you call it up in a topographic map, you will see what we mean.  This marked trail promises petroglyphs and it will deliver…if you have keen eyes.  It is not an obvious panel of petroglyphs flashing like a neon sign as you will see in other locations.  The petroglyphs along this path are subtle, but the hike is still fun and easy if you have extra time on your hands.  There are a lot of fun rock formations that will make excellent backdrops for your landscape photos and selfies and us-ies.  Hole in Rock, Spikes, and goldfish to name a few.

We transcribed the plaque below:
Apostle of the Cacti
More than a wealthy Southern California socialite, Minerva Hamilton Hoyt was an avid Gardner, a community activist, and a determined visionary.  Joshua Tree National Park exists today because of Mrs. Hoyts’s dedication to desert conservation.  Following World War 1, she witnessed the damage caused by theft and vandalism of native plants.  Cacti and Joshua Trees were uprooted for urban gardens, shot up for target practice, or burned on a whim.  Appalled, she fought tirelessly for the creation of internationally protected desert reserves.  Mrs. Hoyt envisioned the creation of a Desert Plants National Park, covering 1,000,000 acres from the Salton Sea to the town of Twentynine Palms.  To raise public awareness for desert preservation, she personally funded major  exhibitions of desert plants in New York, Boston, and London.  The President of Mexico dubbed her the “Apostle of the Cacti” for her International conservation efforts.  A species of cactus (Mammillaria Hamiltonhoytea) was named in her honor.  With her passion for desert landscapes Mrs. Hoyt sought help from California Governor James Rolph, Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, and President Franklin Roosevelt, all of whom lent support to her cause.  After many struggles, Mrs. Hoyt’s dream was achieved when, on August 10, 1936, President Roosevelt established Joshua Tree National Monument by Presidential Proclamation.  The 1994 Desert Protection Act renamed the area Joshua Tree National Park, a lasting testament to California’s desert “apostle.”

46. Not "Just" a Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 34.0
TIME: 01:39
Yes, this is a featureless parking area like you have come to know…BUT…this is where you want to park to walk to the Gram Parsons’ memorial that you will learn about in the next location #47.  If you look closely, you can see the remnants of the last round of graffiti left in honor of the Rockabilly Star.  The NPS removes it regularly.  That rock in the top right corner is the back side of Cap Rock.

47. Cap Rock

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-gram-parsons-beaver-rock-cap-rock

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW OF CAP ROCK

MILEAGE: 34.1
TIME: 1:39
Welcome to CAP ROCK, famous more things than you can imagine.  Cap Rock is a beautiful area to relax and take in the majestic views of Joshua Tree National Park.  Expansive views, large rocks, trees for days.  Cap Rock even has its own spin on “cool” because of the cap that is ominously looming on the top, barely clinging on and eerily ready to fall at any moment.

But its fame take a much deeper and darker turn.  Enter Gram Parsons and a promise made between friends…

Gram Parsons was a famous rockabilly star of the 1960’s and 1970’s.  Not far into the 1970’s because of his death on September 19, 1973.  That made him a young 26-years-old.   Gram was the front man for The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers, two bands that had some notoriety but weren’t at the top of the charts like The Rolling Stones or The Eagles.  BUT, he was close friends with them and definitely had an influence on their music.  A quick web search will show a bunch of pictures of Gram in Joshua Tree with Keith Richards of the Rollings Stones on a regular basis.  So what makes Gram so famous and connected to Joshua Tree?  For that you need to first visit ROOM #8 of The Joshua Tree Inn.

Gram would visit the desert often for inspiration.  He loved the area and would visit the Joshua Tree National Park often.  He preferred to stay in The Joshua Tree Inn and that is where the story begins.  

Gram, Phil Kaufman, and a few of his friends were at Clarence White’s funeral and made a pact concerning their own deaths.  The funeral had a big impact on their lives at the time, and little did they know they would have to follow through with their wishes a few months later.  The plan was to take the body of the deceased friend to Joshua Tree National Park, have a drink with the lifeless friend, and then cremate the body in the desert.

September 19, 1973.  That is the infamous day.  Gram and his friends (WE NEED TO FIND HIS FRIEND’S NAMES) checked into ROOM #8 of The Joshua Tree Inn and partied on alcohol, barbiturates, cocaine, and morphine.  Gram overdosed and passed away in Room #8.  There is a guitar statue outside the room today to honor the Rockabilly Rocker. We take you to the Inn on our Village Walking Tour.  It is definitely one of the unique places you should visit during your Joshua Tree Adventures and will definitely be on our TOP 5 PLACES TO STAY blog.

Phil Kaufman was called and he drove out to JT.  Gram’s body had already been taken to the morgue which made keeping his pact somewhat of a challenge…more of a challenge than you’re going to believe.  

Gram’s body was going to be transported back to Louisiana, and that was one of the things Gram definitely did not want.  Gram didn’t like his step-father and didn’t want a “funeral” back home.  Phil contacted the mortuary and found out that Gram’s body was going to be transported to LAX so it could be flown to New Orleans.  Phil called his friend Michael Martin, borrowed an old 1953 Cadillac Hearse they used to camp in, and made the trip to LAX to intercept the body.  The hearse was badly damaged, had broken windows, and had no license plates.  It would be obvious to most people that they weren’t legit morgue employees, but these little details are what make this story awesome. They wore their tour clothes…Rockabilly attire of cowboy boots, jeans, and cowboy hats.  Again, most people would know they weren’t legit! 

Phil and Michael, who were probably extremely drunk and high at this point, drove to LAX and found the area where Gram’s coffin was delivered.  Miraculously they convince the airport employees that the family changed their minds on the funeral and that they were there to take Gram’s body in their dilapidated hearse.  The employees agreed and allowed them to forge the paperwork.  Can you even imagine this happening?  Put yourself in ANY of their shoes.  HAHA!  This is insane.  Out of the blue, a police car pulled up and blocked the hangar doors.  Imagine a drunk/high pair of Rockers stealing a body, and a cop shows up!  End of story right?  No.  Phil asks the cop to move his car and he immediately moves it.  They even talk for a while about life and the cop is cordial, so cordial that the cop helps them load the body into the trashy hearse.  As they tried to drive out of the hangar, one of two stories happens.  One story says they hit the wall, another story says they hit the cop car.  We go with the Cop Car Story.  Either way, as the story goes, the cop laughs it off and still lets them drive off.   Phil and Michael stopped at a gas station at the Cabazon Dinosaurs and filled a 5-gallon gas can with gas to perform the “desert cremation.”  

Gram, Phil, and Michael made it to Cap Rock in Joshua Tree National Park and unloaded the casket.  If you take a look at the picture above, you will see that they carried the casket behind Cap Rock to Beaver Boulder.  We couldn’t imagine carrying a casket 10 feet with only two people carrying it!  They opened the casket, had a personal moment with Gram, and filled the gasket with the 5-gallons of gasoline.  They lit the gasoline on fire and fled the area.  Campers saw the fire and called the Park Rangers and a Western Airlines body bag was found partially burned in the casket.  Witnesses also described a hearse speeding away that was running other cars off the road.  (Can you imagine how drunk and high they were through all of this?)

The drive home wasn’t any less dramatic.  The Hearse broke down.  After they made repairs to it, they continued on toward Los Angeles, only to be involved in a traffic accident.  They rear-ended a car on the highway.  The policeman that arrived saw they were drunk and placed them in handcuffs.  As the cop checked on the other people in the crash, they slipped their cuffs and fled the scene.  The Hearse had no plates and the cop didn’t get their IDs so they were in the clear once again.

Police Investigator Joe E. Hamilton was assigned to the case and said he was close to figuring out the details of this whole escapade so Phil and Michael turned themselves in.      

The court date was, ironically, on Parsons’ 27th birthday, November 5, 1973.  Back in 1973, there was no law on the books for stealing a body, so they both received 30-day suspended jail sentences, $708 fine for damages to the coffin, and a $300 fine each for the crime.  Keith Richards reportedly told Phil, “I heard that you took care of our pal”.  Phil and Michael held the “Kaufman’s Koffin Kaper Koncert” to raise money to pay the fines.  Doctor Demento was the disc jockey and they had special bottles of beer made with labels that read, “Gram Pilsner: A Stiff Drink For What Ales You.”  

Gram’s famous white rhinestone studded Nudie suit is in the country music hall of fame in Nashville Tennessee. If you want to stay in  ROOM #8 of The Joshua Tree Inn, you will have to call ahead and specifically ask for the room by name.  Let them know we sent you!

There is one hike here:
Cap Rock and Gram Parsons Trail: 0.7 miles with an elevation gain of 39 feet 

48. EXHIBIT AHEAD: Rapid Fire

joshua-tree-national-park-hiking-camping-climbing-adventure-tour-rapid-fire-plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW OF RAPID FIRE

MILEAGE: 34.4
TIME: 1:40
We have transcribed the plaque below:
Rapid Fire
The wildfire that scorched the desert landscape in front of you swept through here in 1999.  It was the park’s largest fire to date.  I lightning strike started the blaze, and before the fire was stopped by firefighters it consumed nearly 14,000 acres.  Fire is an important natural process and has altered the desert landscape for eons.  Summer thunderstorms bring frequent lightning strikes, igniting wildfires.  What is of concern is the frequency and size of fires that are occurring today.  Before 1965, most desert fires burned in spotty locations.  The ground between desert shrubs and trees had sparse plant cover, with less chance for fire to spread from bush to bush.  Since then, however, non-native grasses have invaded the open desert spaces.  These grasses, originally from the Mediterranean, encourage the recurrence and spread of fire.  Large fires used to happen every 200 years, but now they may happen every five years.  Native plants like black bush evolved in a desert where fire was an occasional visitor.  With the increase in fire frequency, scientists are concerned that native plant communities may be forever reshaped.  Park researchers are monitoring the invasive tendencies of non-native grasses – cheatgrass, red brome, and schismus – and are taking aggressive actions to control their encroachment on native plants.

49. Juniper Flats Trailhead

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-juniper-flats-trailhead-3

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW OF JUNIPER FLATS

MILEAGE: 34.9
TIME: 1:41
When you stand on the side of these signs, it forms a perfect arrow…but where is it pointing you?  Up?
The first thing you will see is a crosswalk oddly crossing the road as you continue on in your journey.  This is the famed California Hiking and Riding Trail.  That is the 37.8-mile-long trail that starts in the Blackrock Campground, winds its way through the Park, and ends at the North Entrance on Utah Trail in 29 Palms.  There is nowhere to stop near this crosswalk.  Immediately after the crosswalk you will see the intersection of Keys View Road and Juniper Flats Road.  There is a small dirt parking lot to the west that leads to the locked gate of Juniper Flats Road.  You will have your choices of three hikes that begin at the Juniper Flats Trailhead:
Califonria Riding and Hiking Trail Keys View to Pinto Basin Road: 10.6 miles with an elevation gain of 462 feet
Quail Spring Mountain via Juniper Flats12.8 miles with an elevation gain of 1,679 feet
Stubby Loop12.8 miles with an elevation gain of 1,128 feet
Unless you are coming here to do each of these 12.8-mile-long hikes, we suggest you pass this one up and continue toward Keys View.  Long hikes like this require preparation, supplies, and experience to avoid any issues in this vast and often 110-degree desert.  That goes double for the California Hiking and Riding Trail!

50. Exhibit Ahead: Tree of Life

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW OF THE TREE OF LIFE

MILEAGE: 35.2
TIME: 1:42
TRIVIA:  How many of these plaques have a twin somewhere else in the Park?  You would assume they would all be different but they chose to duplicate (5) of the plaques and, of course, only we would notice and mention it.  HAHA!  So which ones are they?  It would be so mean to make you figure it out on your own so here you go:

Barren or Bountiful appears in location # 8 + #142
Tree of Life appears in #50 + #99
What’s Wrong With This Picture appears in #57 + #58
We Have Contact is the only plaque that is TRIPLED and appears in #60 + #62 + #105
Colorado Desert appears in #132 and #134

Make sure you share our guide with everyone you know.  This guide took a lot of hard work to create and we really hope everyone can enjoy it and use it to the fullest!  The absolute Complete Guide of all Joshua Tree Guides!

We have transcribed the plaque below:
Tree of Life
When you try to pick out anything by itself, you and it hitched to everything else in the universe. John Muir.  The Joshua Tree is to the Mojave Desert as the giant Saguaro Cactus is to the Sonoran Desert – both plants are host to many animals dependent upon them.  Both illustrate how intertwined desert life truly is.  For The Joshua Tree, it all begins with a moth.  The blossoms of The Joshua Tree are pollinated only by the Yucca Moth.  The moth collects the flower’s pollen to help nourish her expected offspring; she taps the pollen into the funnel-shaped pistil.  At the base of the pistil are undeveloped seeds.  It is here that the moth lays her eggs.  Now fertilized by the pollen, the seeds grow and provide food for the hatching larvae.  The larvae grow and emerge, and ample seeds are left to scatter.

Intermission:

You have been going strong now for (50) locations into The Joshua Tree National Park.  Enjoy our fun video clips and information about The Joshua Tree area that we will show you after every (10) locations as an “Intermission.”  That will give you time to take a break and take all of this in!  
There is a LOT TO SEE ON OUR MEDIA PAGE:

51. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 35.5
TIME: 1:42
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.
If you love this Ultimate Guide to the Joshua Tree National Park…
Share our Ultimate Guide on Facebook
Share our Ultimate Guide on Twitter
Share our Ultimate Guide on LinkedIn
Share our Ultimate Guide on Pinterest
Email Us your comments, concerns, and beneficial suggestions…

52. Lost Horse Mine Road

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW OF THE INTERSECTION

MILEAGE: 36.2
TIME: 1:43
You will see a sign for the Lost Horse Mine Road which leads out to the Lost Horse Mine Trailhead.  If you plan on taking one of the 4-mile or 6.7-mile hikes out to the Lost Horse Mine, then you will have to drive out on this dirt road until you hit the trailhead.  We will warn you now.  There is only parking for 12-14 cars at the trailhead.  Our ULTIMATE GUIDE will continue to add the mileages and time as if you chose to travel out to the trailhead and back.  You can always choose to go straight and continue toward Keys View.

53. The Lost Horse Mine

joshua-tree-national-park-camping-hiking-climbing-adventure-tour-lost-horse-mine-road-trail-trailhead-2
joshua-tree-national-park-camping-hiking-climbing-adventure-tour-lost-horse-mine-road-trail-trailhead

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE LOST HORSE MINE TRAILHEAD
CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW OF THE LOST HORSE MINE

MILEAGE: 37.2
TIME: 1:46
The Lost Horse Mine shipped 200-pound bricks of gold to Riverside California…daily!  Does that have your attention?  200-pound bricks?   That’s 3,200 ounces and at today’s gold price of $1718/oz, that would net you $5,497,600.  We can’t even process those numbers!  The Lost Horse Mine ultimately produced 10,000 ounces of gold for a whopping (today’s price) $17,180,000.   The Lost Horse Ranger Station from location #13 is 6.15 miles away from here.  We really can’t find the connection between the two locations other than they share the same name and they share the same road.  We found a second reference to the Lost Horse Ranger Station on the NPS.gov web site.  If you have the time, it would be fun to walk the same trails that the miners and $17-million in gold once traveled.

You will have two choices of hikes from the Trailhead:
Lost Horse Mine Loop 6.7 miles
Lost Horse Mine Trail 4.0 miles 

We transcribed plaque #1 below:
Lost Horse Mine
The 4-mile round-trip Lost Horse Trail retraces the original mining road to the old gold mine.  Although others claimed credit, oral tradition holds that cowboy Johnny Lang discovered the Lost Horse Mine when he went looking for his lost horse.  Regardless of the true discoverer, in 1893 Johnny and his partners filed the first claim and began mining the gold.  The partners, all but Lang, sold their interest to the Ryan Brothers in 1895.  The Ryans quickly made improvements, erecting a 10-stamp mill, laying 3.5 miles of waterline, and improving the access road.  The mine operated full-time until 1908, when the gold vein played out.In later years, others tried to entice a profit but with little success.  With the establishment of Joshua Tree National Monument in 1936, the mine closed.

We transcribed plaque #2 below:
Lost Horse Mine
Operated intermittently between 1893 and 1936, the mine produced over 9,000 (10,000) ounces of gold for its operators.  Dutch Frank Diebold is credited with the original discovery of the claim, which he sold for $1,000 to Johnny Lang. (Flipped $1,000 to $17-million haha).  Johnny reportedly came upon Dutch’s claim while looking for a lost horse, hence the current name.  The mine workings consisted of a 500-foot shaft, an early 80-foot adit, several stopes where the vein was followed, and, at least, six working levels.  Major tunnels were developed at the 100-. 200-, and 300-foot levels.  The shaft was sunk next to the quartz vein from which the ore-bearing portions, or shoots, were mined.  Remnant mill features include the large, crushed ore storage bin, the ten-battery stamp mill, two rock walled water storage tanks, and portions of engines and compressors.  This reasonably well preserved example of small-scale western mining technology has been nominated to the National Register of Historic Sites to help preserve it for the enjoyment of future generations.  This mine is extremely hazardous due to the open stope and unstable ground conditions.  Every effort has been made to provide for both its enjoyment and visitor safety.  Please remain outside of the protective fencing.

54. Exhibit Ahead: Mojave Desert

joshua-tree-national-park-adventure-tour-climbing-hiking-camping-walking-mojave-desert-plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW OF THE MOJAVE DESERT

MILEAGE: 38.3
TIME: 1:49
We have transcribed the plaque below:
Mojave Desert
A desert’s character is defined by its most distinctive plants.  Joshua Tree National Park is a land where two desert ecosystems meet – the Mojave and the Colorado Deserts.  The botanical subtleties you see here represent the Mojave Desert – a desert of sparse cover, low shrubs, and few trees.  The Mojave Desert is a high desert, slightly cooler and moister than the Colorado Desert.  Altitudes vary from 2,000 feet to well above 5,000 feet.  Joshua Tree, Mojave Yucca, Creosote Bush, Bur Sage, Mormon Tea, and Desert Thorn thrive within the mid-range of this desert.  The Mojave flatlands are almost always above 2,000 feet; thus they are cooler than the lower Colorado Desert flats.  Summer temperatures may be about seven degrees hotter in the Colorado.  Winter precipitation occasionally means snow for the Mojave, but almost always rain for the Colorado Desert.  There are few trees and cacti in the Mojave Desert.  Yuccas – armored members of the lily family – are the signature plants of this desert, particularly the Mojave Yucca and The Joshua Tree. “When I first came to the desert I was arrested by the space…The longer I regarded it the cleared it became that its proportion had limits, that it had an identity.”-Barry Lopez, Desert Notes, 1976.

55. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 39.0
TIME: 1:50
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

Trivia

What famous artist has a 10-acre art display made completely from trash he found around the desert as seen on The Secret Tour?

a. Vincent Van Gogh
b. Claude Monet
c. Leonardo Divinci
d. Noah Purifoy

This answer is

56. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 40.1
TIME: 1:52
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

57. Keys View ADA Parking Area

joshua-tree-national-park-adventure-tour-hiking-climbing-camping-ada-lookout-from-keys-view
joshua-tree-national-park-adventure-tour-hiking-climbing-camping-ada-lookout-from-keys-view-2
joshua-tree-national-park-adventure-tour-hiking-climbing-camping-ada-lookout-from-keys-view-3

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

Mileage:  40.3
Time: 01:53
As you drive toward Keys View, you will see a small handicap parking area on your left with two parking spaces.  This is the ADA access point for Keys View.  We have transcribed the plaque below:

What’s wrong with this picture?
The answer is haze.  Haze comes from such sources as water vapor, dust, and air pollution.  Air pollution can come from locations many miles away.  Southern California industrial plants, power plants, wood stoves, and automobiles belch soot, dust, and smoke into the atmosphere.  Prevailing winds direct the air east and funnel it through Banning Pass, where it is dispersed throughout the Coachella Valley.  Some pollutants that form haze are linked to serious health problems and environmental damage.  Occasionally air pollutions exceeds national health standards here in the park.  On very hazy days it is difficult to find Palm Springs, 20 miles (32 km) away, nestled at the foot of Mount San Jacinto.  The haze hangs around the longest when winds are calm, humidity if high, and temperatures are ho

TRIVIA:  How many of these plaques have a twin somewhere else in the Park?  You would assume they would all be different but they chose to duplicate (5) of the plaques and, of course, only we would notice and mention it.  HAHA!  So which ones are they?  It would be so mean to make you figure it out on your own so here you go:

Barren or Bountiful appears in location # 8 + #142
Tree of Life appears in #50 + #99
What’s Wrong With This Picture appears in #57 + #58
We Have Contact is the only plaque that is TRIPLED and appears in #60 + #62 + #105
Colorado Desert appears in #132 and #134 

 

58. Keys View

joshua-tree-national-park-adventure-tour-hiking-climbing-camping-lookout-from-keys-view-4
joshua-tree-national-park-adventure-tour-hiking-climbing-camping-ada-lookout-from-keys-view-5
joshua-tree-national-park-adventure-tour-hiking-climbing-camping-black-lizard-looking-out-from-keys-view

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW OF KEYS VIEW
There are 25+ 360-degree views here.  Take your time and look around.  

Mileage: 40.9
Time: 01:54
Keys View is the mini Grand Canyon of the desert.  You will be able to see two of Southern California’s biggest summits: Mount San Jacinto (elevation 10,834 feet/3,302 meters) and Mount Gorgonio (elevation 11,502 feet/3,506 meters). You can also easily see the lower desert form here stretching from Palm Springs to the 
Coachella Fest   Off in the distance is the famed Salton Sea (saltier than the Pacific Ocean) and Salvation Mountain.  Binoculars will let your eyes gaze upon Mount Signal way to the south across the border in Mexico. Yes, you can see into Mexico from Keys View!

There are two hikes available here:
Key View Loop To Inspiration Peak Trail: 1.2 miles with an elevation change of 501 feet
Keys View Nature Trail: 0.2 miles with an elevation change of 19 feet

We have transcribed the two plaques below:
Coachella Valley
The Coachella Valley stretches 50 miles before you, an extension of the same Colorado Desert found within the boundary of Joshua Tree National Park.  The difference between the Colorado Desert here and the Colorado Desert there is largely human influence.  Entrepreneurs at the turn of the 20th century began diverting water from the Colorado River to irrigate the fertile alluvial soils of the Imperial (south of Salton Sea) and Coachella Valleys to grow dates and citrus fruits.  Today a system of canals supplies water to farms, golf courses, cities, and residential communities – monuments to the life-giving power of water.

What’s wrong with this picture?
The answer is haze.  Haze comes from such sources as water vapor, dust, and air pollution.  Air pollution can come from locations many miles away.  Southern California industrial plants, power plants, wood stoves, and automobiles belch soot, dust, and smoke into the atmosphere.  Prevailing winds direct the air east and funnel it through Banning Pass, where it is dispersed throughout the Coachella Valley.  Some pollutants that form haze are linked to serious health problems and environmental damage.  Occasionally air pollutions exceeds national health standards here in the park.  On very hazy days it is difficult to find Palm Springs, 20 miles (32 km) away, nestled at the foot of Mount San Jacinto.  The haze hangs around the longest when winds are calm, humidity if high, and temperatures are hot.

TRIVIA:  How many of these plaques have a twin somewhere else in the Park?  You would assume they would all be different but they chose to duplicate (5) of the plaques and, of course, only we would notice and mention it.  HAHA!  So which ones are they?  It would be so mean to make you figure it out on your own so here you go:

Barren or Bountiful appears in location # 8 + #142
Tree of Life appears in #50 + #99
What’s Wrong With This Picture appears in #57 + #58
We Have Contact is the only plaque that is TRIPLED and appears in #60 + #62 + #105
Colorado Desert appears in #132 and #134 

joshua-tree-national-park-hiking-camping-climbing-adventure-tour-keys-view-plaque-warning-bees-bee-ahead-sign

Just a quick note:  Do you love finding unique street signs?  So do we.  This is one of two in the world we think.  The other sign is found in the Cholla Gardens.  When they have SO MANY BEES that they have to put up a sign, you better take notice.  When you park your car in the parking area, take a second to look around and see if you see any swarming bees.  Keep the windows up and air condition on “RECIRC”.  We also recommend you leave the windows closed any time you get out of the car Park-Wide.  PS, we love this sign!  Did you see the Bighorn Sheep sign on your way into Joshua Tree?  Did you see the unique Bighorn Sheep sign on your way in to the south exit at Cottonwood? 

59. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 46.6
TIME: 2:04
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

60. Ryan Campground

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-we-have-contact-ryan-campground-trailhead-2

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW
There are a lot of 360-degree views here.  Take your time and look around.  

Mileage: 47.5
Time: 02:08
Ryan campground has 31 first come first serve sites and 4 sites that can be reserved.  It is an absolutely beautiful campground and is really close to Ryan Ranch.  There is actually a trailhead inside the campground, adjacent to the furthest in camp site, that will take you out to Ryan Ranch.  This is kind of a secret back door to get out to Ryan Ranch instead of driving back out to the main road and going to the “Ryan Ranch Trailhead.”   How much shorter you ask?  From the campground, it will take you 12 minutes to walk the .6 miles roundtrip.  From the official Ryan Ranch Trailhead, it will take you 20 minutes to walk the 1.0 mile roundtrip.  We share a couple of pictures of Ryan Ranch in our next location at #40 Ryan Ranch Trailhead.  The average cost per night is $20.  The campground sits at 4300′ in elevation and has no running water.  

There are a total of (500) campsites across the (9) campgrounds in the Joshua Tree National Park:
The first five campgrounds require reservations September through May at Recreation.Gov.  Black Rock Campground also has (20) equestrian campsites that can only be reserved if you have a horse physically with you.
1. Black Rock: 99 sites.  $20/night. Has Water. 4000′ elevation.
2. Cottonwood: 62 sites.  $20/night. Has Water. 3000′ elevation.
3. Indian Cove: 101 sites.  $20/night. No Water. 3200′ elevation.
4. Jumbo Rocks: 124 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 4400′ elevation.
5. Sheep Pass: 6 sites.  $40-50/night. No Water. 4500′ elevation.
The last four campgrounds are first-come first-serve…with the exception of Ryan Campground which has (4) equestrian campsites that can be reserved only if you have a horse physically with you.  
6. Belle: 18 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 3800′ elevation.
7. Hidden Valley: 44 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 4200′ elevation.
8. Ryan: 31 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 4300′ elevation.
9. White Tank: 15 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 3800′ elevation.

For a little bit of Secret Park trivia, there are actually (524) campsites because for some reason, the NPS doesn’t include equestrian campsites in their totals (500+24=524).

TRIVIA:  How many of these plaques have a twin somewhere else in the Park?  You would assume they would all be different but they chose to duplicate (5) of the plaques and, of course, only we would notice and mention it.  HAHA!  So which ones are they?  It would be so mean to make you figure it out on your own so here you go:

Barren or Bountiful appears in location # 8 + #142
Tree of Life appears in #50 + #99
What’s Wrong With This Picture appears in #57 + #58
We Have Contact is the only plaque that is TRIPLED and appears in #60 + #62 + #105
Colorado Desert appears in #132 and #134 

We have transcribed the plaque below:
We Have Contact
It’s our tendency to view the Earth as unchanging, static.  But here engraved upon the face of this mountain is a story of change.  The dark mountain rock is Pinto Gneiss (pronounced nice).  The lighter color rock is granite – monzogranite.  The granite crystallized from magma deep within the Earth, which forced, its way into the gneiss 85 million years ago.  Here, where the two rocks touch, marks the edge of the magma chamber – the contact zone.  The granite, over millions of years, broke through the surface of the ground by mountain uplifting, underground chemical weathering, and, finally, surface erosion.  Now exposed, the granite reveals to us eons of geologic story.

Intermission:

You have been going strong now for (60) locations into The Joshua Tree National Park.  Enjoy our fun video clips and information about The Joshua Tree area that we will show you after every (10) locations as an “Intermission.”  That will give you time to take a break and take all of this in!  
There is a LOT TO SEE ON OUR MEDIA PAGE:

61. Ryan's Ranch Trailhead

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-ryan-ranch-gold-brick-house
Joshua-Tree-National-Park-climbing-hiking-camping-adventure-tour-ryan-ranch-trailhead-gold-brick-house-3

CLICK HERE FOR 360-DEGREE VIEWS

Mileage: 48.1
Time: 02:12
Welcome to the Golden Brick Ranch House.  Brothers Tom and Jepp Ryan homesteaded this plot of land in the late 1800s because they owned the 10,000-ounce Lost Horse Mine nearby with Johnny Lang.  The price of gold back in 1900 was $20.67/ounce.  Have you ever wondered the conversion rate from today versus in the year 1900?  $1 back then equals $30.79 today, so with a little bit of dazzle dazzle and simple algebra, you’d learn the Ryan brothers had the equivalent of $6,364,293 in today’s dollars…rich by any means!

But they could have been slightly richer had they NOT used the tailings from the mine in their house bricks.  Yes, the adobe house they lived in was built with bricks they made on site.  They used all available materials back then so they figured they may as well use the tailings…which were later found to be rich in gold as well.  I guess they didn’t care to break the walls down and squeeze those last drops of gold out since they had $6,000,000 already.  HAHA!  As you wander the area, you might find eight gravesites, Native American Art, and old mine equipment.  There is one hike here:
Ryan Ranch Trail:  1.5 miles with an elevation change of 134 feet

62. Exhibit Ahead: We Have Contact

joshua-tree-national-park-hiking-camping-climbing-adventure-tour-we-have-contact-plaque-educational-sign-parking-area-turnout

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW 

MILEAGE: 48.4
TIME: 2:13

TRIVIA:  How many of these plaques have a twin somewhere else in the Park?  You would assume they would all be different but they chose to duplicate (5) of the plaques and, of course, only we would notice and mention it.  HAHA!  So which ones are they?  It would be so mean to make you figure it out on your own so here you go:

Barren or Bountiful appears in location # 8 + #142
Tree of Life appears in #50 + #99
What’s Wrong With This Picture appears in #57 + #58
We Have Contact is the only plaque that is TRIPLED and appears in #60 + #62 + #105
Colorado Desert appears in #132 and #134 

We have transcribed the plaque below:
We Have Contact
It’s our tendency to view the Earth as unchanging, static.  But here engraved upon the face of this mountain is a story of change.  The dark mountain rock is Pinto Gneiss (pronounced nice).  The lighter color rock is granite – monzogranite.  The granite crystallized from magma deep within the Earth, which forced, its way into the gneiss 85 million years ago.  Here, where the two rocks touch, marks the edge of the magma chamber – the contact zone.  The granite, over millions of years, broke through the surface of the ground by mountain uplifting, underground chemical weathering, and, finally, surface erosion.  Now exposed, the granite reveals to us eons of geologic story.

63. Exhibit Ahead: Hall of Horrors

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-hall-of-horrors
joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-hiking-camping-adventure-tour-slackline-hall-of-horrors-exhibit-ahead-3

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW
CLICK HERE FOR A SNOW-COVERED SURPRISE

Mileage: 48.9
Time: 02:14
Welcome to the Hall of Horrors and Saddle Rock.  This large parking lot and EXHIBIT AHEAD can be a little confusing.  The Saddle Rock plaque is on the opposite side of the parking lot.  This is the only backwards sign in the Park, but they had to face it that way so you would look across the street and match up the picture on the plaque with Saddle Rock directly behind it across the street.  The rocks and caves near the parking lot are part of the Hall of Horrors loop hike.  And before you ask, no, Hall of Horrors doesn’t have a wild backstory…it was just named by the climbers that first climbed the rocks way back in the day.   

If you hang out here long enough, you will see some of the more extreme climbers setting up slack lines between North Horror Rock and South Horror Rock.  There is nothing more majestic and relaxing than watching someone make that long high tightrope walk from peak to peak. Or it might have you on the edge of your seat full of anxiety…it affects everyone differently. Can you guess the longest slack line in the Park?  426 feet.  They claim the high winds they felt during their crossing pushed them 15-feet out from center. 

We have transcribed the plaque below:
Saddle Rock
If you are looking for A Cheap Way To Die (5.10d) or want to Walk On the Wild Side (5.7), you’ve come to the right place.  Both of these rock climbing routes are favored climbs here, as well as Harlequin (5.10c) and Right On (5.5).  A 75-foot rappel descent is to the left of Right On, or a down climb can be taken on the south side the lower summit.  Saddle Rock offers a wide range of climbs rated from 5.5 easiest to 5.12b (most difficult).

 

64. Ryan Mountain Trailhead

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-we-have-contact-ryan-trailhead-2

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

Mileage: 49.6
Time: 2:16
The Ryan Mountain Out-And-Back Trail Hike is 3 miles in length and will take you over 2 hours to complete.  There is an overall elevation change of 1069 feet.  Be prepared to huff and puff if you aren’t hiking on a regular basis.  If you make it to the top, you will be able to take the fabled “Mount Everest Peak” shot with the 5457 elevation sign behind you.  Your 360-degree views from this vantage point will be worth every heavy breath you will take.  This will also increase your Park visit to 19 hours…HAHA! 

65. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 50.2
TIME: 2:18
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

66. Sheep Pass Campground

joshua-tree-national-park-hiking-camping-climbing-adventure-tour-sheep-pass-campground-six-camping-sites-6-sites

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 50.8
TIME: 2:21

Sheep Pass Group Campground is centrally located and only has six group campsites.  It’s hard to imagine how they even made this into a campground with only (6) sites!  This would be a great place to lock down all six sites and have your own private alcove in the Park for a weekend.  This location has everything you could ask for with beautiful vistas, boulders and rocks to climb, and wildlife all around.  The average cost per night is $40-$50.  The campground sits at 4500′ in elevation and has no running water.  To reserve campsites at Sheep Pass Group Campground, CLICK HERE to go to the recreation.gov web site.

There are a total of (500) campsites across the (9) campgrounds in the Joshua Tree National Park:
The first five campgrounds require reservations September through May at Recreation.Gov.  Black Rock Campground also has (20) equestrian campsites that can only be reserved if you have a horse physically with you.
1. Black Rock: 99 sites.  $20/night. Has Water. 4000′ elevation.
2. Cottonwood: 62 sites.  $20/night. Has Water. 3000′ elevation.
3. Indian Cove: 101 sites.  $20/night. No Water. 3200′ elevation.
4. Jumbo Rocks: 124 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 4400′ elevation.
5. Sheep Pass: 6 sites.  $40-50/night. No Water. 4500′ elevation.
The last four campgrounds are first-come first-serve…with the exception of Ryan Campground which has (4) equestrian campsites that can be reserved only if you have a horse physically with you.  
6. Belle: 18 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 3800′ elevation.
7. Hidden Valley: 44 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 4200′ elevation.
8. Ryan: 31 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 4300′ elevation.
9. White Tank: 15 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 3800′ elevation.

For a little bit of Secret Park trivia, there are actually (524) campsites because for some reason, the NPS doesn’t include equestrian campsites in their totals (500+24=524).

 

67. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 51.4
TIME: 2:21
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

68. Exhibit Ahead: The Bighorn Domain

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 51.4 (200 feet down the road)
TIME: 2:22
We have transcribed the plaque below:
Big Horn Sheep Domain
Imagine scrambling atop these rock hills to escape danger.  Desert Bighorn are well suited to rocky terrain; they have squared hooves with soft skid-proof soles designed to grip.  Moutains are their domain.  About 250 desert bighorn sheep live in the park.  These are healthy numbers considering the bighorn sensitivity to human disturbance.  Bighorn require wide, wild territory to roam and water sources without human competition and presence – rare things these days, found only in wilderness areas and protected sites like Joshua Tree National Park.

 

69. Service Road With Gate

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-service-area-road-near-Sheep-Pass-Campground-satellite-map-view
joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-service-area-road-near-Sheep-Pass-Campground-satellite-map-view-2

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 51.6
TIME: 2:25
Here you will see an intersection with a service road that leads to the north.  There is a closed and locked gate right at the main road so you will not be able to turn down this road, but we did want to point out every single location that you will see as you make the trek through the Park.  From the looks of the satellite image, they have water tanks and storage just down the way out of sight from park visitors.  Looks like there might also be some old wood structures and mine equipment?   

70. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 51.8
TIME: 2:26
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

Intermission:

You have been going strong now for (70) locations into The Joshua Tree National Park.  Enjoy our fun video clips and information about The Joshua Tree area that we will show you after every (10) locations as an “Intermission.”  That will give you time to take a break and take all of this in! You are walking the same grounds as the infamous Jim Morrison of The Doors.  This video is INSANE! 
There is a LOT TO SEE ON OUR MEDIA PAGE:

71. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 51.8
TIME: 2:26
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

72. Not "JUST" a Parking Area

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-road-artwork
joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-road-artwork.jpg

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 52.6
TIME: 2:28
You will see the normal parking area along the road with no signs or plaques…BUT…this is THE location of THE 45′-tall Joshua Tree.  This is one of the tallest trees in the Park.  Remember back at location #2 inside the Joshua Tree Visitor Center when we told you you can tell the age of a tree just by looking at it?  Well, this 45′-tall Joshua Tree is 360-years-old.  This is definitely one to stop and take US-IES with.  Now…to the deeper secret.  The next EXHIBIT AHEAD talks about trees that are 500-years-old somewhere in the Park.  That means the 500-year-old tree is 62.5-feet tall!  That’s 20-feet taller than the one you are looking at now!

WHERE IS THIS TREE Y’ALL!  LET’S WORK TOGETHER AND FIND IT!

73. Exhibit Ahead: The Adventurous Yucca

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-hiking-camping-adventure-tour-adventurous-yucca-not-the-tallest-joshua-tree-in-the-world-at-45-feet-tallest-is-500-years-old-and-almost-63-feet-tall-1
CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE:  52.6 (plus 170-feet down the road)
TIME: 2:29
We have transcribed the plaque below:  
It is like an adventurous yucca that has embarked on an endeavor to find out in how many directions it can grow, and to see what it can do in the way of performing branches. –William Collins O’Kane, The Intimate Desert, 1969.  As you look at this wide expanse of Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) you can see hoe the notion O’Kane wrote about might have originated. Explorers, naturalists, and writers have described the trees as strange, grotesque, peculiar, bristly, stiff, ungraceful, repulsive, bizarre, endlessly varying, spine-studded, and spiteful-looking. How would you describe it?  The Joshua tree is the largest variety of yucca in the United States. The biggest known Joshua tree in the park is some 42 feet tall. with a crown width of 34 feet and a trunk nearly 9 feet round. The average life span of a Joshua tree in 150 years, but some are believed to live as long as 300-500 years.  Joshua trees start growing as single stalks. Branching occurs when the meristem (growth tip) flowers or is eaten by animals. New branches can sprout in any direction.  A Joshua tree seed must be dropped in a protective location to survive. Often a safe site is within a nurse plant- a plant not likely eaten by a mule deerrabbits, woodrats, or ground squirrels. Here the young Joshua is able to grow a protective armor of

74. Intersection with Big Horn Pass road

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE:  52.8
TIME: 2:30
You are at the intersection of Park Boulevard and Big Horn Pass Road.  A quick look at the map will show you that this road loops back and hits Queen Valley Road and is the back way to the Barker Dam / Wall Street Mill area. Just make sure you keep driving straight on Park Boulevard.

75. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 53.0
TIME: 2:31
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.
If you love this Ultimate Guide to the Joshua Tree National Park…
Share our Ultimate Guide on Facebook
Share our Ultimate Guide on Twitter
Share our Ultimate Guide on LinkedIn
Share our Ultimate Guide on Pinterest
Email Us your comments, concerns, and beneficial suggestions…

76. Intersection with Geology Tour Road and Desert Queen Mine Road

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE:  53.5
TIME: 2:32
You are at the intersection of Park Boulevard and Geology Tour Road to the south and Desert Queen Mine Road to the north.  The road to the north takes you to, wait for it, Desert Queen Mine.  HAHA!  If you visited Desert Queen Mine when you were at Barker Dam, this is where you would have popped out onto Park Boulevard, effectively missing 30 locations because you took the shortcut back at LOCATION #38.  

We strongly suggest NOT ever taking that shortcut because you miss so many unique opportunities.  If you skipped going out to Desert Queen Mine when you were back at Barker Dam, you are only 1.3 miles from the Desert Queen Mine Trailhead from here, roughly 4 minutes.

Geology Tour Road to the south is going to be your next big option/choice to make.  You will see a dirt parking area with an outhouse/bathroom and the Geology Tour Road Check-In Board.  We would suggest most of you just continue on Park Boulevard and continue on into the Park like everyone else.  Why?  Geology Tour Road is all dirt and it is easy to get stuck in the sand or lost WAY out in what would appear to be nowhere.  

We drove a Honda Civic to the first stop on Geology Tour Road, #78 Squaw Tank.  Why?  To test it for you and let you know you “can” make it there in a small compact underpowered little car.  There is a SUPER UNIQUE LITTLE SECRET at Squaw Tank so we would suggest going there to see it…your call. 

If you take the whole Geology Tour Road Loop and take a couple wrong turns here and there, you could end up on Dillon Road in the City of La Quinta in the Lower Desert.  The sign at Geology Tour road suggests that only 4×4 vehicles take this route too…so unless you have an awesome 4×4, plenty of gas, lots of water, lots of desert driving experience, a satellite phone, and the desire to drive on every single road in the Park, just continue on Park Boulevard.  There is PLENTY to see in the Park still.  We are going to take you through Geology Tour Road here in our COMPLETE ULTIMATE GUIDE anyways.  Just sit back and enjoy it from here!

77. Geology Tour Road

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-hiking-camping-adventure-tour-geology-tour-road-plaque-sign

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE:  53.5
TIME: 2:32
So you wanna be a Joshua Tree RockStar and drive out on Geology Tour Road!  Awesome.  This is a crazy drive and like the sign will tell you, it takes a 4×4, two hours, 18 miles, and dedication because the road eventually becomes a one-way loop road which means you are stuck finishing it whether you like it or not.  Click the button above and download the Geology Tour Road PDF.  The little box NEVER EVER has any paper copies available so you can thank us later.  HAHA!  We have transcribed the plaque below:

Geology Tour Road
Rocks are the records geologists read to inform us of the long, dynamic history of the Earth.  Complex and seemingly incomprehensible, the 1.80billion-year geology in Joshua Tree National Park is capsulized along this round-trip, 18-mile tour. With the Geology Tour Road Guide brochure as your primer, travel the road to better understand the foundational materials and shaping forces of this desert landscape.  Driving the complete auto tour takes about 2 hours.  The full tour is recommended only for 4-wheel-drive vehicles.  Soft sand and steep grades make it a challenging trip.  Restrooms are only available here, at the start of the drive.  After Squaw Tank (5.4) miles the road gets rougher and eventually becomes one-way, committing you to finishing the full route.  Know before you go.  Stay on established roads; off-road travel is prohibited.  A 4-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended for tour road travel.  Drive slowly and carefully; the speed limit is 25 m.p.h.  Use caution near abandoned mines; stay out and stay alive.  Leave wildlife, plants, rocks, and artifacts undisturbed.  Camping is by backcountry permit only; campfires are prohibited.  Squaw Tank offers an up-close inspection of monzogranite rock.  Look for alpine dikes, smooth, light-colored rock intrusions, forming upright ridges among the boulders.  Malaria Hill, rising 400 feet above the valley floor is a volcanic intrusion, though it never erupted.  The 1.5-mile round-trip hike to the summit is considered moderately strenuous.

78. Squaw Tank Trail (Corner #1)

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-squaw-tank-dam-wall-4
joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-squaw-tank-dam-wall-2
joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-squaw-tank-dam-wall-3

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE:  58.8
TIME: 2:52
Squaw Tank Trail is an awesome place to hike and boulder because NOBODY ever dares to come out here.  In all honesty, you can make it this far in almost any car on the road so make it an option for yourself.  You cannot go beyond this point unless you have a 4×4.  The rock formations are classic and the dam is a fun oddity to add to your JTNP knowledge banks.  The super unique secret we talked about is a secret brick in the dam that has a poem etched into it.  The brick is SUPER hard to find even though you think you’ll see it all on your own.  Click on our pano image above…its in there.  

ODD POEM ETCHED INTO THE SECRET DAM BRICK:
Little William Age 7
He died and went to heaven
We can’t always tell
But Little Willie might have went to hell

It almost sounds like this is one of our clues on our TOURS at one of our secret locations in Joshua Tree…but it isn’t.  If anyone out there has a good story behind this poem, let us know!

The brick is oddly well-camouflaged with the rest of the bricks.  We honestly thought it would be simple to find but it wasn’t. We walked both sides of the dam twice and almost quit.  HAHA!  Quit? Never…  The brick is actually dead center and right in your face as you walked up.  Find the rusted metal pipe sticking out of the bottom of the dam.  Look at each brick straight above that pipe and you will find the Secret Dam Brick.  Touch it at your own risk…the assumption is it is haunted.

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-squaw-tank-tarantula-hawk-pepsis-wasp-1
joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-squaw-tank-tarantula-hawk-pepsis-wasp-2

Look at the beautiful bush…said the person screaming in pain one minute later.  HAHA.  This bush is found on the back side of the dam and is off limits.  For some reason or another, the Tarantula Hawk, aka Pepsis Wasp (Pepsis Fomosa), loves this one specific bush.  We see them here every time we roll through Squaw Tank.  Look closely at the picture we took of the bush during our last visit on June 4, 2020.  There were at least 60 Tarantula Hawks flying around that day!  You’re looking for the black body and orange wings.  
PSA:  They have the highest pain index sting of all insects…you won’t like it.

79. Pleasant Valley (Corner #2)

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE:  60.3
TIME: 2:56
So you’re going to go for it?  The one-way road designed for 4×4’s only?  EXCELLENT!  Imagine the one-way road section to be a square box.  We will call the top left northwest corner “CORNER #1” and that is where you just left from at Squaw Tank.  Pleasant Valley is “CORNER #2” which is the top right northeast corner of that same box.  If you accidentally continued east past this corner, you would end up in the mountains making your way toward the Cottonwood Visitor Center or “South Entrance.”    You’d be making it there the hard way.

80. Corner #3

MILEAGE:  61.2
TIME: 2:58
CORNER #3 is the bottom right southeast corner of the square box.  If you accidentally continued south past this corner, you would end up in the Berdoo Canyon Shooting Area.  This is on Dillon Road just above Coachella near the casinos and Interstate 10.  Yes, technically you could drive out of the Park this way and end up in the Lower Desert out near Coachella!

Intermission:

You have been going strong now for (80) locations into The Joshua Tree National Park.  Enjoy our fun video clips and information about The Joshua Tree area that we will show you after every (10) locations as an “Intermission.”  That will give you time to take a break and take all of this in!  Emma Stone and Sir Paul McCartney
There is a LOT TO SEE ON OUR MEDIA PAGE:

81. Corner #4

MILEAGE:  63.0
TIME: 3:02
CORNER #4 is the bottom left southwest corner of the square box.  If you accidentally continued west past this corner, you would end up in Pinyon Well and lost in the mountains.  From here at CORNER #4, you will finish the drive back to Park Boulevard and continue on in your quest to see EVERY SINGLE STOP IN THE PARK!  You are already at stop #60!  Isn’t that absolutely stunning?  And you have a LOT more to see so buckle up!

82. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE:  70.7
TIME: 3:27
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

83. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE:  71.1
TIME: 3:28
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

84. Jumbo Rocks Campground

Joshua-Tree-National-Park-climbing-hiking-camping-adventure-tour-jumbo-rocks-campground-trail-marbles-6
Joshua-Tree-National-Park-climbing-hiking-camping-adventure-tour-jumbo-rocks-campground-trail-marbles-5
Joshua-Tree-National-Park-climbing-hiking-camping-adventure-tour-jumbo-rocks-campground-trail-marbles-4

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 72.9
TIME: 3:32
Jumbo Rocks Campground is going to blow your mind.  It is an absolutely glorious place to lay your head down at night.  Take a look around using Google 360-degree views.  We have one for you above, but there are a lot more for you to explore.  The 360-degree views have become our best friend.  They really let you virtually stand there and look around, enjoying the surroundings and it lets you decide what looks like it just can’t be skipped on your trip into Joshua Tree.  You will love our VIRTUAL TOURS as well.   We take you to locations around the Joshua Tree area and make it a little more fun with clues, puzzles, riddles, and ciphers along with secrets and eccentric history.

There are a total of (500) campsites across the (9) campgrounds in the Joshua Tree National Park:
The first five campgrounds require reservations September through May at Recreation.Gov.  Black Rock Campground also has (20) equestrian campsites that can only be reserved if you have a horse physically with you.
1. Black Rock: 99 sites.  $20/night. Has Water. 4000′ elevation.
2. Cottonwood: 62 sites.  $20/night. Has Water. 3000′ elevation.
3. Indian Cove: 101 sites.  $20/night. No Water. 3200′ elevation.
4. Jumbo Rocks: 124 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 4400′ elevation.
5. Sheep Pass: 6 sites.  $40-50/night. No Water. 4500′ elevation.
The last four campgrounds are first-come first-serve…with the exception of Ryan Campground which has (4) equestrian campsites that can be reserved only if you have a horse physically with you.  
6. Belle: 18 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 3800′ elevation.
7. Hidden Valley: 44 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 4200′ elevation.
8. Ryan: 31 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 4300′ elevation.
9. White Tank: 15 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 3800′ elevation.

For a little bit of Secret Park trivia, there are actually (524) campsites because for some reason, the NPS doesn’t include equestrian campsites in their totals (500+24=524).

85. Skull Rock

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-skull-rock-1
joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-skull-rock-9
joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-skull-rock-3

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW
There are a MILLION 360-degree views here.  (Okay, maybe 100)

MILEAGE: 73.2
TIME: 3:36
Skull Rock!  You made it!  Not many people make it this far because that means they are driving ALL the way through the Park.  Like we told you back at the beginning of this tour, people literally drive in to the first picnic area and turn around and drive back out.

Skull Rock is exactly that…a skull “rock.”  It is a spectacular backdrop for your pictures.  DO NOT leave here without grabbing a bunch of your own images of you, family, fiends, and probably a lot of strangers.  HAHA!  Try to be out here at Golden Hour to get the best lighting and colorful skies.  Don’t miss out on the lesser known secret second “FACE ROCK” which is located across the street from Skull Rock.  Click that link for the GPS coordinates and map.  You can also try to find “ELEPHANT ROCK” located directly behind Skull Rock.  You have the choice of two different hikes here at Skull Rock.
Skull Rock Discovery Trail: nice and short at .7 miles and an elevation gain of 68 feet.
Skull Rock Nature Trail: a little bit longer at 1.7 miles and an elevation gain of 160 feet.

 

Trivia

Which famous musicians/bands have been to Joshua Tree and have fun history here?

a. The Doors
b. The Eagles
c. Paul McCartney
d. John Lennon
e. Miley Cyrus
f. Gram Parsons
g. Ice Cube
h. Beyonce and Jay-Z (Run)
i. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
j. All of the Above

This answer is

86. Exhibit Ahead: The Intruder

joshua-tree-national-park-camping-hiking-climbing-adventure-tour-the-intruder-plaque-2

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 73.5
TIME: 3:37
 We have transcribed the plaque below:

The Intruder
You can’t put time in a bottle, but how about in a rock?  The granite formation you are looking at, and that supports the ground you are standing on, represents 85 million years of time.  It’s called monzogranite and is one of two predominant rock types found in the park; the other in Pinto Gneiss (pronounced nice).  The gneiss is 1.6 million years old, making it nearly half the age of the Earth.  The granite formed from magma and forced its way into the overlaying gneiss (inset. right).  The magma cooled into a crystallized mass of hardened granite some 15 miles below your feet – equal to the distance from here to Keys View.  The hardened granite, squeezed and shaken by earthquakes over millions of years. split and cracked.  Groundwater flowed down the cracks etching the granite.  Mountain building lifted the granite, and erosion exposed it to the surface.  Once the granite was exposed, weathering action continued to sculpt the rocks into their present forms.

87. Intersection with Split Rock Road (North) and Live Oak Picnic Area (South)

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 73.8
TIME: 3:38
 You will reach an intersection that has Split Rock Road to the north and Live Oak Picnic Area to the south.  We will continue our travels north first, and then south.  We will then continue back onto Park Boulevard and dive deeper into the Park.

88. Split Rock Picnic Area (North)

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-split-rock-5

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW
There are (11) awesome 360-degree views here…even one with a cave and an NPS sign.

MILEAGE: 74.4
TIME: 3:41
 The Split Rock Picnic Area and Trailhead to the north can be worth the extra time…depends if you are hunting for the cool rock formations and beautiful picnic areas to enjoy your food, friends, and FACES.  There are a lot of named rock formations here…face rock, tulip rock, face rock 2, etc.  You’ll have to look around.  This area is awesome for bouldering and taking those pictures where it looks like you are living on the edge…but only 3 feet off the ground too. You have four hiking options from Split Rock:
Split Rock Loop Trail: 1.9 miles with 252 feet of elevation change
Eagle Cliffs Lucky Boy Vista Loop: 4.8 miles with 862 feet of elevation change
Eagle Cliff Mine: 2.3 miles with 580 feet of elevation change
Love Land Wash: 2.7 miles with 498 feet of elevation change

89. Live Oak Picnic Area (South)

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-live-oak-picnic-area-acorns-2
joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-live-oak-picnic-area-acorns-3
joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-live-oak-picnic-area-acorns

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE: 75.1
TIME: 3:45
 Live Oak is an equally beautiful place to picnic and boulder just like #67 at Split Rock.  It is also worth seeing what should be a world famous Oak Tree.  After a little bit of research we found that the Oak Tree you see standing before you is a hybrid mix of two types of Oak Trees.  Oak Tree species #1 is a Muller’s Oak, aka Quercus Cornelius-Mullen, which is somewhat of a local variety of the tree although they are generally more like bushes than this huge strong Oak Tree here.  Oak Tree species #2 is a Valley Oak, aka Quercus Lobata, and the nearest of these trees is 100 miles away toward the Pacific Ocean.  So how did this unique Oak Tree makes it way all the way to the heart of Joshua Tree?  You tell us!  We just suggest you take pictures with it while it is still standing and share this mystery with your friends and family to add to the intrigue of the Park.  You have one hiking option here:
Live Oak Tank and Ivanpah Tank: 1.5 miles with 131 feet of elevation change

90. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE:  75.4
TIME: 3:47
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

Intermission:

You have been going strong now for (90) locations into The Joshua Tree National Park.  Enjoy our fun video clips and information about The Joshua Tree area that we will show you after every (10) locations as an “Intermission.”  That will give you time to take a break and take all of this in! This is a little clip of Sir Paul’s performance at Pappy and Harriet’s. 
There is a LOT TO SEE ON OUR MEDIA PAGE:

91. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE:  75.4 (350-feet down the road)
TIME: 3:48
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

92. 2 Parking Areas With No Plaques

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE:  75.8
TIME: 3:49
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

93. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE:  76.4
TIME: 3:50
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

94. Exhibit Ahead: A Distinguished Yucca

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-hiking-camping-adventure-tour-a-distinguished-yucca-plaque
joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-hiking-camping-adventure-tour-a-distinguished-yucca-plaque-2

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE:  76.4 plus 250′ down the road
TIME: 3:51
We have transcribed the plaque below:
A Distinguished Yucca
If you are not familiar with the desert, you may not yet be ale to distinguish between the Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia) and the Mojave Yucca (Yucca schidigera).  Both are in view in front of you.  The Joshua Tree is typically multi-branched, though not always.  The Mojave Yucca forms a trunk that sometimes branches.  Here is the foolproof distinction: the Mojave Yucca always has splinter-like threads on edges of its spine-tipped leaves – a signature you can count on.  The Mojave Yucca – like all Yuccas – is a fiber producing plant, prized by the Indians of the region.They made rope, sandals, mats, clothing, and baskets by soaking the leaves and then pounding away the softer plant tissue.  Here, two Cahuilla Indians use a loom to weave Yucca fibers into saddle blankets.

95. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE:  77.0
TIME: 3:52
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

96. Intersection with Pinto Basin Road

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE:  77.4
TIME: 3:53
You will see a sign as you approach this intersection that points “straight” for 29 Palms and “right” for Cottonwood and Interstate 10.  This is the Intersection of Park Boulevard and Pinto Basin Road, a major turning point in anyone’s adventures in the Park.  Imagine if you missed the intersection back at Keys View?  The same could happen here if you didn’t know any better.  We will now take you “right” toward Cottonwood and Interstate 10.  Don’t worry, when we reach the Cottonwood Visitor Center, we will turn around and come right back to this spot.  You will not want to miss a couple locations on Pinto Basin Road…such as Bulls-Eye Rock, Arch Rock, Heart Rock, Cholla Gardens, Ocotillo Patch, and many more.  But that’s why you have us and this ULTIMATE GUIDE to prepare you for your epic Joshua Tree adventure!  Onto Pinto Basin Road we go…

97. Intersection with a Service Road

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-hiking-camping-adventure-tour-service-road-only-on-pinto-basin-road-at-park-boulevard-intersection-buildings-equipment-vehicles

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE:  77.4 plus 300 feet down the road
TIME: 3:53
Only 300 feet after you turn onto Pinto Basin Road, you will see a “Service Road Only” sign on your left at another intersection.  You will just continue straight here, but we wanted to point it out.  A satellite view of the area tucked in behind the hills shows it is full of NPS buildings, equipment, and vehicles. 

98. BullsEye Rock (Secret)

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-hiking-camping-adventure-tour-bullseye-rock-1
joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-hiking-camping-adventure-tour-bullseye-rock-2

Mileage: 78.0
Time: 3:54
Bullseye Rock is an awesome semi-secret stop in the Park, similar to all of the other cool and off-the-beaten-path rock formations.  As you continue down Pinto Basin Road, watch your odometer and track around one-half of a mile.  Start to look for a really long section along the left side of the road that looks like an area where people park their cars.  When we say long, the disturbed dirt area is 487 feet long.  At the very end of that long section, you will see a short little parking area on your right too.  Park anywhere in that area.  You can take pictures of Bullseye Rock from here, but we think you’ll take the short 1/2 mile out-and-back hike out to get better angles!  Bullseye is a huge triangle rock with a 8’-circular hole drilled through the tip. A short boulder up the back side will get you access to the Bullseye.  As you can see on the satellite image, Bullseye is along the California Riding and Hiking Trail.  We made this one of our stops on our NATIONAL PARK TOUR.
GPS: 34.011390, -116.014254 

99. Exhibit Ahead: Tree of Life

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

Mileage: 78.3
Time: 3:55
TRIVIA:  How many of these plaques have a twin somewhere else in the Park?  You would assume they would all be different but they chose to duplicate (5) of the plaques and, of course, only we would notice and mention it.  HAHA!  So which ones are they?  It would be so mean to make you figure it out on your own so here you go:

Barren or Bountiful appears in location # 8 + #142
Tree of Life appears in #50 + #99
What’s Wrong With This Picture appears in #57 + #58
We Have Contact is the only plaque that is TRIPLED and appears in #60 + #62 + #105
Colorado Desert appears in #132 and #134 

We have transcribed the plaque below:
Tree of Life
When you try to pick out anything by itself, you and it hitched to everything else in the universe. John Muir.  The Joshua Tree is to the Mojave Desert as the giant Saguaro Cactus is to the Sonoran Desert – both plants are host to many animals dependent upon them.  Both illustrate how intertwined desert life truly is.  For The Joshua Tree, it all begins with a moth.  The blossoms of The Joshua Tree are pollinated only by the Yucca Moth.  The moth collects the flower’s pollen to help nourish her expected offspring; she taps the pollen into the funnel-shaped pistil.  At the base of the pistil are undeveloped seeds.  It is here that the moth lays her eggs.  Now fertilized by the pollen, the seeds grow and provide food for the hatching larvae.  The larvae grow and emerge, and ample seeds are left to scatter.

100. Belle Campground

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-hiking-adventure-tour-belle-campground-plaque-sign-1

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

Mileage: 79.1
Time: 3:58
Belle Campground has 18 campsites and is first come first served so get out here as early as possible.  The campground sits at 3800′ in elevation and the average cost per night is $15.  Each campsite is limited to two vehicles, three tents, and six people.  The sites are beautiful and nestled inside the rocks.  This is obviously a very remote location and there are no utilities here like water or electricity.  Make sure you plan accordingly.  There are the standard pit type toilets available for use.  In all fairness, Belle isn’t too far from the city of 29 Palms, so worst case you would have to drive 10 miles to have access to stores and civilization.

There are a total of (500) campsites across the (9) campgrounds in the Joshua Tree National Park:
The first five campgrounds require reservations September through May at Recreation.Gov.  Black Rock Campground also has (20) equestrian campsites that can only be reserved if you have a horse physically with you.
1. Black Rock: 99 sites.  $20/night. Has Water. 4000′ elevation.
2. Cottonwood: 62 sites.  $20/night. Has Water. 3000′ elevation.
3. Indian Cove: 101 sites.  $20/night. No Water. 3200′ elevation.
4. Jumbo Rocks: 124 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 4400′ elevation.
5. Sheep Pass: 6 sites.  $40-50/night. No Water. 4500′ elevation.
The last four campgrounds are first-come first-serve…with the exception of Ryan Campground which has (4) equestrian campsites that can be reserved only if you have a horse physically with you.  
6. Belle: 18 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 3800′ elevation.
7. Hidden Valley: 44 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 4200′ elevation.
8. Ryan: 31 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 4300′ elevation.
9. White Tank: 15 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 3800′ elevation.

For a little bit of Secret Park trivia, there are actually (524) campsites because for some reason, the NPS doesn’t include equestrian campsites in their totals (500+24=524).

Intermission:

You have been going strong now for (100) locations into The Joshua Tree National Park.  Enjoy our fun video clips and information about The Joshua Tree area that we will show you after every (10) locations as an “Intermission.”  That will give you time to take a break and take all of this in!
There is a LOT TO SEE ON OUR MEDIA PAGE:

101. Twin Tanks Parking Lot Trailhead

joshua-tree-natinal-park-camping-climbing-hiking-adventure-tour-twin-tanks-backcountry-registration-board-1
joshua-tree-natinal-park-camping-climbing-hiking-adventure-tour-twin-tanks-backcountry-registration-board-2

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

Mileage: 80.4
Time: 4:03
Trailhead coordinates: 33.9899, -116.02275 (33° 59′ 23.6″N 116° 01′ 22″W)
Twin Tanks Backcountry Registration Board serves a few purposes. The parking lot is “large” compared to the normal parking areas you have seen throughout the Park.  It also sets a location for people to register and notify the Park that they will be camping in the backcountry.  There are two hiking options from here:
Arch Rock Trail: 1.2 miles with 88 feet of elevation gain
Five Tanks:  5.3 miles with 367 feet of elevation gain

Here is one of our “secret” suggestions.  You for SURE have to go to see Arch Rock.  You should also push a little bit further and head out to Heart Rock. We are going to cover those areas in #102 + #103 + #104.  This Twin Tanks parking lot is the “official” starting spot for the Arch Rock Trail because they would prefer the White Tank Campground not be overwhelmed with cars and people…but if there aren’t any campers, it will be a MUCH shorter hike to Arch Rock and Heart Rock from campsite #15.   

102. White Tank Campground

joshua-tree-national-park-hiking-climbing-camping-adventrue-tour-white-tank-campground-space-15-3
joshua-tree-national-park-hiking-climbing-camping-adventrue-tour-white-tank-campground-space-15-2

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

Mileage: 81.3
Time: 4:07
White Tank Campground has 15 first come first served campsites.  This will be a very busy campground because everyone comes through here to find Arch Rock and Heart Rock.  We would suggest staying at a different campground if you want peace and quiet…and privacy.  Most of the campgrounds do not have water and this is no exception.  Make sure you bring plenty of extra water just in case.  The “secret” in White Tank Campground is space #15.  Campsite #15 is literally 364 feet from Arch Rock.

There are a total of (500) campsites across the (9) campgrounds in the Joshua Tree National Park:
The first five campgrounds require reservations September through May at Recreation.Gov.  Black Rock Campground also has (20) equestrian campsites that can only be reserved if you have a horse physically with you.
1. Black Rock: 99 sites.  $20/night. Has Water. 4000′ elevation.
2. Cottonwood: 62 sites.  $20/night. Has Water. 3000′ elevation.
3. Indian Cove: 101 sites.  $20/night. No Water. 3200′ elevation.
4. Jumbo Rocks: 124 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 4400′ elevation.
5. Sheep Pass: 6 sites.  $40-50/night. No Water. 4500′ elevation.
The last four campgrounds are first-come first-serve…with the exception of Ryan Campground which has (4) equestrian campsites that can be reserved only if you have a horse physically with you.  
6. Belle: 18 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 3800′ elevation.
7. Hidden Valley: 44 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 4200′ elevation.
8. Ryan: 31 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 4300′ elevation.
9. White Tank: 15 sites.  $15/night. No Water. 3800′ elevation.

For a little bit of Secret Park trivia, there are actually (524) campsites because for some reason, the NPS doesn’t include equestrian campsites in their totals (500+24=524).  

103. Arch Rock

joshua-tree-national-park-hiking-camping-climbing-adventure-tour-white-tank-campground-arch-rock-heart-rock-map

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

Mileage: 81.3
Time: 4:07
Arch Rock Coordinates:  33°59’10.2″N 116°00’56.0″W
Hike to Arch Rock and Camp Rock from campsite #15 and its a short 728 foot roundtrip.  That’s much shorter than taking the 1.2-mile roundtrip way back at the Twin Tanks parking lot.

104. Heart Rock

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-heart-rock-front-2
joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-heart-rock-front-1
joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-heart-rock-back-1
joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-camping-hiking-adventure-tour-heart-rock-back-3

There is no 360-degree view here (hint-hint).

Mileage: 81.3
Time: 4:07
Heart Rock Coordinates: 33°59’17.6″N 116°00’47.8″W
Heart Rock is a must see rock formation in the park and is NOT well known.  Most people already start to feel a bit lost and disconnected just hiking out to Arch Rock…so continuing out further isn’t even an option for most.  Use our map and the GPS coordinates to get there safely.  Our pictures above are from the front and back so you can have some backdrop options.    

105. Exhibit Ahead: We Have Contact

joshua-tree-national-park-hiking-camping-climbing-adventure-tour-stirrup-tank-towers-cali49

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

Mileage: 82.0
Time: 4:10
You will see a large parking area at the intersection of Pinto Basin Road and Stirrup Tank Road with a plaque at the edge of the parking spaces.  CALI49 did a spectacular write up about his journey out and about the Stirrup Tank Area.  The rock formation picture above is from his walkabout.  To get to the Stirrup Tank and Hidden Tank areas, drive down the dirt road here for 1.4 miles (2.8 miles roundtrip).  Then take a peek at CALI49’s discussion on the Stirrup Tank area to get your bearings and decide on which areas interest you most.  

TRIVIA:  How many of these plaques have a twin somewhere else in the Park?  You would assume they would all be different but they chose to duplicate (5) of the plaques and, of course, only we would notice and mention it.  HAHA!  So which ones are they?  It would be so mean to make you figure it out on your own so here you go:

Barren or Bountiful appears in location # 8 + #142
Tree of Life appears in #50 + #99
What’s Wrong With This Picture appears in #57 + #58
We Have Contact is the only plaque that is TRIPLED and appears in #60 + #62 + #105
Colorado Desert appears in #132 and #134 

We have transcribed the plaque below:

We Have Contact
It’s our tendency to view the Earth as unchanging, static.  But here engraved upon the face of this mountain is a story of change.  The dark mountain rock is Pinto Gneiss (pronounced nice).  The lighter color rock is granite – monzogranite.  The granite crystallized from magma deep within the Earth, which forced, its way into the gneiss 85 million years ago.  Here, where the two rocks touch, marks the edge of the magma chamber – the contact zone.  The granite, over millions of years, broke through the surface of the ground by mountain uplifting, underground chemical weathering, and, finally, surface erosion.  Now exposed, the granite reveals to us eons of geologic story.

106. Intersection with Service Road

joshua-tree-national-park-camping-climbing-hiking-adventure-tour-service-road-near-stirrup-tank

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

Mileage: 83.3
Time: 4:12
You will come to an intersection between Pinto Basin Road and a service road.  The service road will generally have a shut and locked gate across the road so you won’t have the option of driving that direction,, but we wanted to warn you now in case you came across it “open” and wondered if you should drive down it.  The road leads to a huge parking area filled with vehicles and equipment.

107. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE:  83.6
TIME: 4:13
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

108. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE:  84.2
TIME: 4:14
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

109. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW 
MILEAGE:  85.0
TIME: 4:15
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.
If you love this Ultimate Guide to the Joshua Tree National Park…
Share our Ultimate Guide on Facebook
Share our Ultimate Guide on Twitter
Share our Ultimate Guide on LinkedIn
Share our Ultimate Guide on Pinterest
Email Us your comments, concerns, and beneficial suggestions…

110. Exhibit Ahead: Where 2 Deserts Meet

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW 

MILEAGE:  85.7
TIME: 4:16
We have transcribed the plaque below:
Where Two Deserts Meet
The faster the eye is moving, the fewer things it will see. -Barry Lopez 1987
Do you see a change of landscape occurring here?  Perhaps not; the change is subtle.  Whether you have traveled the road from the north to the south you are now within a transition zone, where two deserts meet – the Mojave and the Colorado deserts.  There is no real boundary line between the two deserts, just a gradual change in elevation, with representative plants of one desert or the other beginning to dominate.  The desert lines blur here, but travel on, you’ll recognize the shift.  You’ll be in the higher, cooler Mojave Desert, marked by the presence of Yuccas – especially Joshua Trees.  Or you’ll be in the lower, hotter Colorado Desert, dominated by flats of creosote bush and interrupted by scatterings of ocotillos, ironwood, palo verde, chuparosa, and smoke trees.

Intermission:

You have been going strong now for (110) locations into The Joshua Tree National Park.  Enjoy our fun video clips and information about The Joshua Tree area that we will show you after every (10) locations as an “Intermission.”  That will give you time to take a break and take all of this in!
There is a LOT TO SEE ON OUR MEDIA PAGE:

111. Exhibit Ahead: Silver Bell Mine

joshua-tree-national-park-hiking-climbing-camping-adventure-tour-silver-bell-mine-plaque
joshua-tree-national-park-hiking-climbing-camping-adventure-tour-silver-bell-mine-plaque-2

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW 

MILEAGE:  86.5
TIME: 4:17
If you love old wrought iron wood encased mines and tipples, this is the place for you.  There are a lot of remnants of days past here if you are willing to take the steep hike up the mountainside.  Fun fact: They never mined Silver from this mine.  You have two hiking options from here:
Silver Bell Mine Hike: 1.3 miles with 308 feet of elevation change
Golden Bell and El Dorado Mine Trail:  2.0 miles with 436 feet of elevation change
We have transcribed the plaque below:
Silver Bell Mine
On the slopes to the south you can see the remains of the Silver Bell Mine, with its tipples still standing.  These ore bins held and fed rock to a stamp battery that crushed the ore into a sandy-watery pulp and pushed it onto an amalgamation table where the precious metals were extracted.  Though the mine operated some 40 years, ownership and details about the mine’s riches are sketchy.  Nevertheless, it was a versatile mine: gold in the 1930’s, lead in the 1940’s, and copper in the 1950’s.  Prospectors began staking claims in this desert region around 1865.  Gold fever gave rise to mine names like Fore Aces, Big Bozo Claim, Lucky Turkey #2, and Hard Digging.  Mining reached its peak here by 1917 and tapered off by the 1960’s.

112. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE:  87.2
TIME: 4:18
Parking area along the road with no signs or plaques.

NOTE:  After you depart/pass this parking area, start to keep your eyes up and ready to feel a cool weird shift as you become surrounded by Teddy Bear Cholla Cactus (Cylindropuntia Bigelovii).  It will start to happen 1 mile (1-minute) down the road.  You will start to see Cholla as far as your eyes can possibly see!

113. The Cholla Gardens

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-hiking-camping-adventure-tour-the-cholla-cactus-garden-gardens-2
joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-hiking-camping-adventure-tour-the-cholla-cactus-garden-gardens-1

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW
There are a million 360-degree views here for you. (okay, maybe 70)
MILEAGE:  88.5
TIME: 4:20
Welcome to the fabled Cholla Gardens, home of the Teddy Bear Cholla Cactus (Cylindropuntia Bigelovii) and deliverer of most pokes per square inch in the Park.  HAHA!  Aren’t you glad you decided to drive this far into the Park?  This is one of the MUST-SEE locations just like Keys View and Skull Rock.

Take your time and enjoy this world marvel.  There is so much to see and do here.  Taking a slow stroll down the boardwalk and taking in nature’s glory is the bare minimum.  These Teddy Bear Cholla get their name from the outside appearance of the spines and how they look like Teddy Bear fur.  These Cholla have a second name, “Jumping Cholla.”  They earned that name because the hooked and barbed tips of these spines will grab onto anything and everything that dares to get near.  Now they won’t literally “jump” onto you, but it won’t take much for you to leave the Gardens with more than just a memory.  Take as many pictures as possible but remember to BE CAREFUL!  BE AWARE!  TREAD SLOWLY AND SOFTLY.  You do NOT want a cholla ball to find its way into your skin.  When we say barbed, yes, we mean like a fish hook.  And guess how they spread their seed?  Spine wrapped branches and balls drop off to grow new Cholla, which means your shoes will become the perfect victim to their pokes.  Please keep your eyes wide open and don’t lean in too close.  The reason the bottoms appear darker is that is where old branches/balls have fallen off.  The new growth is the brighter white/yellow color you see on the top, making these and awesome ombre color that is spectacular in pictures, and in you shoes.  HAHA!

There are two hikes here:
Cholla Cactus Garden Nature Trail:  .2 miles with an elevation change of 6 feet
Golden Bee Mine Trail: 4.2 miles with an elevation change of 807 feet

We have transcribed the plaque below:
Cholla Cactus Garden
If the plant bears any helpful or even innocent part in the scheme of things on this planet, I should be glad to hear it. -J. Smeaton Chase 1919.  We humans often find value in other living things only when we see a profit for ourselves.  We fail to recognize the value of a thing to itself or other living things.  The cholla (chow-ya) cactus is one of these outcasts.  If we could ask the desert wood rat or the cactus wren how they value the cholla, undoubtedly they would have an eye-opening perspective to share.  Walk the 1/4-mile loop trail through the cactus garden with the self-guiding nature trail brochure as your guide.  See if the cholla cactus “bears any helpful…part in the scheme of things on this planet.”

114. Ocotillo Patch

joshua-tree-national-park-hiking-camping-climbing-adventure-tour-the-cholla-garden-1
joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-hiking-camping-adventure-tour-ocotillo-patch-4

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE:  90.0
TIME: 4:22
The Ocotillo Patch seems like it would be a lot “more” of an attraction than it ends up being.  Its kind of a small experience after you just left the Cholla Gardens which makes you feel like you’re on another planet, even after the Park already made you feel like you were on another planet.  But the Ocotillo Patch is definitely one of the stops to make and enjoy along your journey.   

We have transcribed the plaque below:
Ocotillo
Don’t confuse this unusual-looking plant, ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens), for a cactus.  The thorny, multi-stem shrub is in fact a woody deciduous plant.  Unlike other deciduous shrubs, which normally grow leaves in the spring and drop them in the fall, the ocotillo may grow and drop leaves as often as five times during the year.  Its leaves aren’t season dependent but rain dependent.  Following a sufficient train, the ocotillo puts forth a cluster of leaves above each thorn, adorning the otherwise dead-looking canes with a flourish of green.  At the same time red blossoms may appear at the tips of the canes.  The leaves go about the business of photosynthesis – converting light energy to food energy – until the next drought; then the leaves turn red or brown and drop.

 The Pinto Basin Fried Liver Wash Hike can be found 3.1 miles south from here.  As you drive on Pinto Basin Road, the trailhead will be an old unmarked unkept dirt road on your right.  The hike is 9.4 miles with an elevation change of 574 feet. 

115. Exhibit Ahead: Turkey Flats

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-hiking-camping-adventure-tour-turkey-flats-choice-spots-4
joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-hiking-camping-adventure-tour-turkey-flats-choice-spots-1
joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-hiking-camping-adventure-tour-turkey-flats-choice-spots-3

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE:  94.7
TIME: 4:31
Welcome to the Pinto Basin Sand Dunes Trailhead parking area AKA Turkey Flats.  There are two hikes here:

Turkey Flats Sand Dunes Trail: 2.3 miles with an elevation change of 104 feet
Pinto Mountain Trail: 10.5 miles with an elevation change of 2490 feet

There are three plaques here.  We have transcribed the plaques below:

Choice Spots
Local folklore holds that in the 1920’s an enterprising poultry farmer believed a turkey farm would work nicely here – thus the name Turkey Flats.  Lack of water and distance from markets, however, proved otherwise.  Three habitats – desert scrub, sand dune, and mountain – are distinctive here.  Each supports specialized animals that find it hard or impossible to survive elsewhere.  

Turkey Flats (Backcountry Registration)
Pinto Mountain looms above Pinto Basin, where prehistoric people lived along the banks of a now vanished shallow stream.  Hikers may explore the vastness of this basin by following one of the primitive routes that loop over Pinto Mountain.  The east side trek is the easiest but longest route to the summit.  The center trek requires difficult rock scrambles.  All routes up Pinto Mountain require off-trail orienting skills.  The Fried Liver Wash Corridor, on the opposite side of the road, leads to Pleasant Valley, transitioning between the Colorado and Mojave Deserts.  Current trail information, maps, and backcountry guidebooks are available at park visitor centers.

Turkey Flats
Turkey Flats is really not so flat.  It is in fact a loose extension of Pinto Mountain, composed of rock, gravel, and sand – called alluvium – that washed from the slopes and canyons, spreading gradually at the base of the mountain and over the basin.  The alluvium or sediment once comprised a mantle of soil that covered the mountain sloes.  The soil was anchored by grasses, jumpers, and pinyon pines.  But when the last ice age ended 10,000 years ago, and conditions killed the plants, and the soil, no longer anchored, washed downslope with periodic floods.

 

116. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW 

MILEAGE:  95.8
TIME: 4:34
NEW CONSTRUCTION: This is now an asphalt parking area.  Need to double check for new plaques next run through the Park.

117. Parking Area With No Plaque

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW 

MILEAGE:  98.4
TIME: 4:35
NEW CONSTRUCTION: This is now an asphalt parking area.  Need to double check for new plaques next run through the Park.

118. Exhibit Ahead: Porcupine Wash

joshua-tree-national-park-camping-hiking-climbing-adventure-tour-porcupine-wash

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW 

MILEAGE:  99.8
TIME: 4:37
We have transcribed the plaque below:
Porcupine Wash
Follow Porcupine Wash among water-loving some trees, desert willows, and lavender bushes, which attract a variety of desert life.  Not far along the route, a side trail leads to the ruin of Ruby Lee Mill established in 1935.  Near the end of the wash, an unmaintained trail climbs to Monument Mountain’s summit, the highest peak in the Hexie Mountains at 4,834 feet.

There are two hikes here:
Porcupine Wash to Monument Mountain Trail: 18.4 miles with an elevation change of 2670 feet
Porcupine Wash Ruby Lee Mill Site Trail: 8.8 miles with an elevation change of 875 feet

119. Exhibit Ahead: Pinto People and Only A Visitor

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-hiking-camping-adventure-tour-pinto-people-only-a-visitor-plaque-1
joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-hiking-camping-adventure-tour-pinto-people-only-a-visitor-plaque-2

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE:  100.5
TIME: 4:38
We have transcribed the two plaques below:

Pinto People
In the Pinto Basin there lies an extinct river along whose banks we found, for nearly six miles, camps containing a culture different from anything we had already encountered. -Elizabeth Campbell (1893-1971).  It is hard to imagine the existence of water anywhere in this parched landscape, but exist they did.  Here in the Pinto Basin evidence of old shorelines lends proof to a cooler, wetter period when a shallow river coursed the basin.  The river attracted life, which explains the fossil bones of extinct camel, horse, llama, sheep, tortoise, and rabbit found here.  It also explains the discovery of a distinct human culture that camped along the riverbanks.  Between 1931 and 1935, self-taught archeologists Elizabeth and William Campbell searched up and down this valley.  They followed the ancient riverbank terraces for miles, discovering many small campsites and collecting chipped stone tools – leaf-shaped points, scrapers, and choppers.  The Campbells recognized that these tools were different from others of the region.  When the artifacts were radiocarbon tested years later, they registered more than 9,000 years old and confirmed the existence of a vanished people – the Pinto Culture.

Only A Visitor
From here, for as far as the eye can see, is “designated wilderness” – park lands governed by the strictest preservation standards.  What makes this place so special? Vastness, solitude, wildness, and challenge.  It is more than legislated lines drawn on a map.

120. Exhibit Ahead: Old Dale Road and Black Eagle Mine Road

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-hiking-camping-adventure-tour-old-dale-road-black-eagle-mine-road-1
joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-hiking-camping-adventure-tour-old-dale-road-black-eagle-mine-road-2
joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-hiking-camping-adventure-tour-old-dale-road-black-eagle-mine-road-3

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE:  102.6
TIME: 4:41
There are three hikes here:
Sand Dunes Via Mecca Dale Road: 25.7 miles with an elevation change of 856 feet
Old Dale Road: 25.8 miles with an elevation change of 830 feet 
Both of these hikes will have you exit the Park and end up back on State Route 62 way east of Twentynine Palms.
Black Eagle Mine: 24.9 miles with an elevation change of 1,286 feet

We have transcribed the plaque below:
Old Dale and Black Eagle Mine Road
The Old Dale Road (to your left) leads to the Dale Mining District, outside the Park.  The Black Eagle Mine Road (to your right) dead-ends at a barricade just outside the Park, beyond which is one of the most extensive mining operations in the area.  The case for gold here began in the early 1880’s.  Wagons and trucks bumped along these roads carrying supplies and ore.  The mining town of Dale – more a mining camp, because it moved with successive ore vein discoveries – supported 1,000 people in its heyday.  Miners and their families lived amid the whir and roar of mining machinery running day and night.  Miners dealt with isolation and scarcity of water; you might too, if you choose to venture far along these backcountry roads.  Travelers should be prepared, cautious, and self-sufficient – help may be a long time coming if you break down or run short of water.

Intermission:

You have been going strong now for (120) locations into The Joshua Tree National Park.  Enjoy our fun video clips and information about The Joshua Tree area that we will show you after every (10) locations as an “Intermission.”  That will give you time to take a break and take all of this in! We describe a “desert wash” in the next location.  Take a look at this video of what a wash can look like.  The skies are clear and blue, yet up in the mountains above Joshua Tree, it had been raining and sent this deadly wall of water raging into the village.  You have to be patient and wait for it.  The beginning is NOT the wall of water…just wait for it.  
There is a LOT TO SEE ON OUR MEDIA PAGE:

121. Exhibit Ahead: A Desert Wash

joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-hiking-camping-adventure-tour-a-desert-wash-plaque-1
joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-hiking-camping-adventure-tour-a-desert-wash-plaque-2
joshua-tree-national-park-climbing-hiking-camping-adventure-tour-a-desert-wash-plaque-3

CLICK HERE FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW

MILEAGE:  103.8
TIME: 4:44
We have transcribed the plaque below:
A Desert Wash
Seen from above, the wash is a river of sand in the midst of a gray-brown desert flat.  When heavy downpours strike the desert, you don’t want to be standing here.  The rainwater rushes 
downslope into a network of rocky canyons that quickly dump their loads into the flat channel of the wash.  A rampaging tide of white capped, muddy water roars through the wash, sweeping with it every poorly anchored thing in its path.  Almost as quickly as it came, the water subsides and soaks deeply into the sandy sediment of the wash.  It is this subsurface moisture that sustains the trees and shrubs that grow here.  Plants like smoke tree, desert willow, ironwood, and palo verde drink long and slowly from the wash’s stored groundwater.  The underground water enables the plants to thrive here.  Wildlife congregates in these sandy strips, taking advantage of the abundant food, shade, and shelter.

122. Cottonwood Visitor Center

joshua-tree-national-park-hiking-camping-climbing-adventure-tour-cottonwood-south-park-entrance-exit-5
joshua-tree-national-park-hiking-camping-climbing-adventure-tour-cottonwood-south-park-entrance-exit-3