Two Days in April - Joshua Tree National Park

Have you ever stayed at the 29 Palms Inn in Twentynine Palms? It's situated on the 9,000-year-old Oasis of Mara, surrounded by the amazing Mojave Desert and less than 15 minutes away from the north entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. It's a great place to stay, relax and eat if you're planning on spending a few days in the area.  I was lucky enough earlier this month to be able to meet an aunt, uncle and cousin there and spend some time showing them some of my favorite places in the park.

It was early April and there were wildflowers in bloom almost everywhere we went. The weather was perfect for hiking and even though the park was very crowded, once you get a little distance away from the main road, it almost seems like you have the place to yourself. 

Here are some of the places we visited and things we saw.

Orange Mallow and Boulder, along the Arch Rock trail in White Tank campground. See the whale in the background?

Desert Purple Mat. These are tiny flowers that are within an inch or two of the ground. Very vibrant colors, easy to spot along the trail.

A good number of the Mojave Yucca along the trail were in bloom.

A nice view of Saddle Rock, taken from the Ryan Ranch Ruins trail. Can you believe how green everything is? 

Peter seemed a bit dazed, I don't think he was feeling well. Maybe he'd gotten into the jimson weed.

One of the main focal points in the area, Headstone Rock is a favorite with rock climbers. More often than not, you'll see someone either climbing it or standing on top.

One of the remaining bits of an out building at the Ryan Ranch. Perhaps it was part of a bunkhouse at one time. There is a large cement slab nearby and some nice steps leading up to it. All over this area is evidence of hard work done by the folks who lived here. They obviously had pride in their homestead.

The ruins of the main house.

I'll take this opportunity to call out the so-called "Joshua Crew," along with Drew and Carey, and say "you people are idiots."

Old Man Cactus, or "Cousin It" Cactus.

A cement water trough, no doubt filled with water from the well up above the slope. I wonder if anyone every cooled off by laying down in it on a hot summer day.

A few Nolina plants in the park were shooting up their stalks. Once those blooms get to full height, they open up into large blossoms.

The Pinyon Pine seems to grow in the most unlikeliest of places. The make great picnic spots.

Stone foundation remains. This was the first time I had spotted these. Perhaps a storehouse or shed once stood here.

Even though I've been to this spot many times, I always find something new to investigate. And the background store of the Ryan's is amazing. From this spot, they ran a 9-mile-long metal pipe to the Lost Horse Mine, to provide the water needed for mining operations.

This shot was taken on the return trip from Keys View. It doesn't really do the area justice, but I had to stop and take it. Everything was so green.

There's a nice, interpretive nature hike at Cap Rock, and plenty of parking. I believe the entire trail is wheelchair accessible. There are some great sights along the way.

Goldenbush was in bloom almost everywhere you looked in the park.

In another week or so, this Claret Cup Cactus will be amazing to see.

A nice clump of Joshua Trees.

The Barker Dam Nature Trail never fails to be worth the price of admission to the park. You never know what you're going to see along the trail. Here's a nice big clump of Mojave Mound Cactus, also known as Claret Cup Cactus. This one was located a bit off the trail, but it was easy to spot with all that red.

I see a large, grumpy turtle face.

Dam lizard. Barker Dam Lizard, that is.

And the next-door neighbor.

The water level at Barker Dam was significantly lower than on my previous visit about a month prior, click HERE to compare.

There are secrets out there.

Here's a shot of Barker Dam. You can see previous water-level marks on the rocks near the water's edge, as well as on the dam itself.

I took the shot on the left early in 2017, specifically to document the graffiti that idiots seem to not be able to control themselves from leaving in our National Parks. While hiking near that boulder on this trip, I heard a scraping noise, like someone scraping a rock with a metal tool. "Aha!" I thought to myself, "someone is scratching their name onto a nearby rock. I will put a stop to that!" As it turned out, it was a park ranger removing/masking the graffiti. She had almost completed the entire boulder and it looked much better.

A Mojave Yucca, inhabitant of Piano Valley.

Piano Valley Panorama. Another fine witness of the recent wet winter. I've never seen this spot so green.

Stopped at my favorite picnic spot for a bit, to have a snack and relax in the shade of some giant Pinyon Pines. 

The Sentinel Cholla.

Spotted this humming bird just as we were nearing the parking area. I think it's the first time I've seen one in the park.

This shot was taken near Squaw Tank, looking out towards the Little San Bernardino Mountains. If you continue along the Geology Tour Road, there's some nice hikes leading up to old mines and wells in the canyons. Pinyon Well is located just a short hike from the road, the Hensen Well Mill a good deal farther, but very interesting with its stone building ruins.

Malapai Hill is one of the most noticeable landmarks along the Geology Tour Road. It's of volcanic origin and is normally quite dark in color. This being the year of green, however, even the hills comply.

A Beavertail Cactus blooming amidst the stalks of a Mormon Tea bush. Add a dash of yellow, some rocks and Malapai Hill to complete the picture.

At the base of Squaw Tank

Blue Phacelia here and there.

One of my favorite flowers bloom on the Jimson Weed. These blooms are big and easy to spot, you'll see them often along the shoulder of Park Blvd. This one was up behind Squaw Tank.

One last shot of Malapai Hill and environs.

There were a lot of these pretty yellow and white flowers near the north entrance to JTree. It's interesting to see how the different sections of the park favor different plants and wildflowers. Some areas are just the right mix for certain species. There was lots of color in the area between the north entrance and the Pinto Wye.


Looking down towards Twentynine Palms.

It was a fun two days in the park, I hope you enjoyed sharing the trip with me. If any of my pictures catch your fancy, feel free to download and save. Use they for whatever purpose, there's no charge. Enjoy.