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Joshua Tree Adventures

posted Apr 25, 2019, 3:44 PM by Justin P   [ updated Jun 9, 2019, 1:58 PM ]
Tuesday morning we had breakfast at the hotel and then headed to Joshua Tree National Park.  We first stopped at the visitor center to pay admission and then headed into the west entrance of the park.  We began seeing the numerous Joshua trees driving in and lots of wildflowers.

We pulled off on the side of the road to get some pictures.  Scarlet hedgehog cactus was starting to bloom.

There was a beautiful California Evening Primrose flowering on the ground.

We also saw some freckled milkvetch.  The seedpods are really interesting looking.

After some pictures, we continued on.  Our first real stop was at the Barker Dam trailhead.  First, we hiked to Wall Street Mill.  A little desert cottontail was right off the trail.

It was a beautiful sandy trail through the desert.

But despite the desert landscape, there were ton of flowers in "super bloom".  Fremont's phacelia is a pretty little blue flower.

And woolly daisies were a cute little yellow flower.

There were numerous Joshua Trees and they were flowering too.

We got off the trail to see a huge number of desert bluebells in a rocky area.

Sandy spotted a live-forever, a small pink succulent.

The desert here was just so beautiful.

And the wildflowers too numerous to count.

About half way to Wall Street Mill, we came to Desert Queen Well.

Just past here, we saw the Worth Bagley stone, where Mr. Bagley was killed in a gunfight with William F. Keys over water rights.

More wildflowers were blooming here, including lots of desert dandelions, carpeting the desert in yellow.

There were some pretty Fremont's phacelia as well.

A little further and we reached the ruins of the Wall Street Mill.

The conveyor that moved gold ore was still visible.

There was also an old car and truck here.

The engines were removed when the vehicles were abandoned.

At the far end of the mill was a massive pile of rocks and boulders.

We climbed up for nice views, but we weren't the only ones up here.  A couple of Great Basin Fence Lizards were sunning on the rocks and doing push-ups.

Then we started making our way back, enjoying the super bloom just as much on the return.

Back at the start, we got on Barker Dam Nature Trail and headed into a valley with more beautiful Joshua Trees.

Going left to hike the loop clockwise, we passed through an area with a ton or desert dandelions blooming.

There were also a lot of banana yuccas flowering.

At the southwest corner of the loop, there was a rock wall with petroglyphs.

Unfortunately, vandals had painted on them.  Barker Dam Trail continued through the desert valley.

The scarlet hedgehog cacti were really flowering with gorgeous red blooms.

As we got close to the dam, we saw an old cattle trough just off the trail.

The dam created a small reservoir used to water livestock.

Now, it was a source of water for wildlife.  Sandy spotted a Great Basin fence lizard near the lake.

I climbed up the rocks for some great views.

Heading back, we passed through a fun area with rock scrambling.  There were some nice live-forever succulents along the trail.

We also saw some common fiddlenecks flowering.

Back at the trailhead, we continued further into the park.  Our next stop was at Skull Rock further down the main park road just past Jumbo Rocks Campground.  Although this is a popular spot, we managed to get a spot on the road close by.

Skull Rock, as the name suggests, is a really cool potholed rock that looks eerily similar to a surreal human skull.  To get away from the crowds, we then hiked further into the massive boulder field.

Many of these rocks had big potholes as well and were just as cool as Skull Rock.

It was a lot of fun scrambling around on the rocks.

We climbed a ways to get away from the crowds and enjoy the great views.

And there were still some wildflowers that managed to grow among the boulders.

After scrambling around for a while, we headed back to the car.  Our next stop was the Cholla Cactus Garden where a tremendous number of the teddy bear cholla cacti were growing.

From a distance, they look cute and fuzzy bit the thorns were wicked.  A few were flowering.

There were some strawberry hedgehog cacti growing among the chollas.

It was really amazing that such a dense concentration of these cacti were naturally growing in this one particular spot.

Garden was an appropriate description.  We hiked the quarter-mile loop then returned to the car.  Heading back, we made a quick stop at Ryan Mountain.

By this point, we were getting hungry so left the park and got dinner at Joshua Tree Saloon.  As evening approached, we headed back into the park and found a cool boulder pile to climb around on.

Some Indian paintbrush were blooming at the pull-off.

We climbed up the rocks and found a nice spot to relax.

I was planning to watch sunset from here, but Sandy wanted to go to another.  There were some beautiful scarlet hedgehog cactus flowers blooming here; Sandy had seen them from the car.

There was another cool boulder pile here.

We climbed up to the top and found a nice spot to watch the sun dip below the Little San Bernadino Mountains.

Climbing back down, the views were just beautiful in the evening light.

We certainly had found a nice spot to finish our day at Joshua Tree.

As darkness crept in, we headed back to the hotel.