Joshua Tree National Park: Hiking in the Mojave Desert

Joshua Tree National Park is remarkable for many reasons…one of which is the fact that in the park the desert transitions from the Mojave, where the Joshua Trees grow, to the lower, hotter, drier Colorado (part of the Sonoran).  We started our visit in the northwestern section of the park, solidly in the Mojave Desert, and in an area full of boulders and crazy fantastical rock formations, caused by rising magma in a subduction zone. We were hiking very near the San Andreas fault.

First up: Hidden Valley.  A popular place for rock climbers. This is where cattle rustlers would hide herds…although how they got the cattle into this place, we never quite figured out…

Our next trail was a loop to Barker Dam, a reservoir that was used for cattle and a nearby mine. The trails are so fun because you get to scramble over rocks in many places, and the kids love climbing over and through the piles of boulders. Luckily, we never met a snake or scorpion or tarantula…

Toward the end of the trail, a highlight was a cave with ancient petroglyphs.

We visited “Skull Rock”…

and picnicked at the Split Rock trailhead. This was a remarkable 2-mile loop through varied terrain, with absolutely amazing rock formations throughout. I think this hike was my favorite.

We wore out the kids…

After a full day of hiking, we headed south toward the Colorado Desert.

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