This is our final segment about California’s remarkable rocks, as we continued through the southern part of the state.
After climbing around the pinnacles and craggy spires at Pinnacles National Park and gaping at the dramatic and vivid formations at Red Rock Canyon State Park, we arrived at yet another geologic wonder. If you’re tired of looking at photos of rocks, you may stop here and look at pretty flowers somewhere else instead 🙂
Joshua Tree National Park is in the top three of the nine national parks for popularity in California, behind Yosemite National Park and Death Valley National Park. More than 2.5 million people visited last year — 60% more than just two years earlier. It may be in the desert, but the rock piles and jumbled formations are often what inspire folks to come here.
As for us, we came in the winter so we had little competition during our explorations. As always, seeing the best a park has to offer involved following several trails. We took the Willow Hole, Hidden Valley, Ryan Ranch and Skull Rock treks.
At first the hiking looked easy, as the trails were mostly flat. But it was no easy stroll, and several times we have to negotiate carefully through a jumbled landscape – even doing a little scampering. In the process we were dazzled by oversized loaf-like stacks of rocks, and we pondered the arrangement of boulders in columns and spires. It felt like we were thrown into an otherworldly place while in the middle of all this beauty.
And then there is the Joshua tree, the namesake of the park. It was Mormon settlers who named the trees because the branches stretched up toward heaven and reminded them of the Biblical prophet Joshua pointing the way to the promised land.
One day we drove to the highest point of the park known as Keys View. The viewpoint faces south and on this decent day we had amazing views of Coachella Valley, the Salton Sea and several surrounding peaks.
So there you have it, just a glimpse of the dramatic and remarkable California rocks we explored in January. If you’re interested in seeing other California rocky landscapes we’ve visited, below are my appropriate posts. Yosemite National Park (still my all-time favorite) isn’t on the list, as we visited it several times before we started RV’ing and blogging. We have no plans to return there since it’s just too crazy busy for us now.
- Fascinating Death Valley National Park
- Backcountry driving in Death Valley National Park
- Lava Beds National Monument
- Cave hopping at Lava Beds National monument
- It’s a rocky situation at Glass Mountain
Next up: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park