Joshua Tree National Park is perhaps one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. Although I’ve lived my entire life in Southern California, it wasn’t until last year – when artist Ellie Pritts’ surreal, color-saturated images first caught my eye – that I really started to explore the park. Although my first trip was a bit of a disaster, this desert playground is definitely worth the trip. The trick is to arrive prepared.
Joshua Tree Mythology: Iconic Trees, Weird Rock Formations, and More
Joshua Tree didn’t receive national park status until 1994, but it quickly became one of the most popular sites in the NPS system, thanks in part to its iconic yucca plants that resemble Dr. Suess’s drawings ( yes, that would be the Joshua trees). All kinds of people have been drawn to its otherworldly landscapes over the years. The Eagles, U2 and even the Aliens (or so it is rumored) were inspired by Joshua Tree – and Gram Parsons loved him so much his ashes were scattered on the pitch.
Besides the trees, Joshua Tree’s popularity also stems from its many recreational opportunities. It’s like a Swiss army knife of travel experiences. Every day you’re likely to spot photographers, artists, climbers and families all sharing one of the scenic diversions. (Just look for signs that say “Exhibition,” which pop up frequently as you pass through the park.) Located 200 miles from Los Angeles and 300 miles from Las Vegas, the park is a doable weekend getaway for many, and you’ll win! You don’t have to be absent to have something to brag about on Monday mornings.
Be ready for the wilderness
But the first time I went, I paid dearly thinking the relative accessibility of the park meant I could ride unprepared. Unlike NPS sites like Yosemite or Muir Woods, Joshua Tree didn’t have a snack bar where I could grab a bite to eat, which meant I had to settle for the mini boxes of cereal, stale popcorn, and the bottle. of half-empty hot water that I had stashed in my trunk. But I kept going, and despite arriving after noon, I still managed to have a great time hiking and climbing around a small section of the park before sunset.
The next morning, I regretted my decision when, due to lack of food, water and common sense the night before, altitude sickness kicked in. It was a good reminder that like any wilderness adventure, you need to be prepared before you go. in Joshua Tree.
The good news: all it takes is a little preparation to make the visit enjoyable. Below, I’ve compiled some key suggestions for making the most of your stay in this magical national park safely.
Joshua Tree National Park: Essential Tips for Your First Visit
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