We came through the parks North entrance via the town of Twentynine Palms. Having done limited research a quick stop at the Oasis Visitor Center to get our bearings and plan out our day was worthwhile. All the photos are actually in order of how we explored the park, beginning with a hike.
Lost Horse Mine + Lost Horse Loop Trail - To the historic 10-stamp mill and gold mine is 4 miles out and back. We opted to continue on the 6.5 mile loop which offered grand vantage points at elevation and then sloped gently down into the flat desert - a wilderness of Joshua Trees, Beavertail cacti, Jackrabbits and more. Parking at the trailhead is limited - plan to come early or to wait for a space. There are a number of hikes in the park for all levels so if one lot is full, always a good idea to have a backup hike planned. (Ryan Mountain is a popular hike not far from here and had an equivalent rating level with less mileage but more elevation gain.)
Keys View - from an elevation of 5,185' an overlook of the expansive Coachella Valley and the San Andreas fault.
Jumbo Rocks - the infamous skull rock and other massive boulders.
Cholla Cactus Garden - natural cactus garden filled with mesmerizing ombre colored cacti clusters.
Ocotillo Patch - beautiful desert plants not to be missed. I later heard the deserts are experiencing an unprecedented 'super bloom' this year and felt really grateful to have witnessed all the catci and desert flowers in such an event.
Cottonwood Spring - Located at the southern end of the park - we took a short walk to check out some of the palm trees. These palms are the largest I've ever seen with a massive, towering presence. There are more hiking trails here that head out to Lost Palms Oasis.
We exited the the park onto Route 10, heading west past the towns of Coachella, Indio and Palm Desert to reach our next destination - Palm Springs. We only spent one full day in Joshua Tree but it has forever changed me, similar to how Iceland did. That feeling where the energy of a place really seeps into your soul and you connect with the earth on a deeper level. It's crazy to think back on the last couple years of international travel and to come to the (obvious) realization that some of the most incredible places to visit are right here in the United States. I love that.