A Journey Through Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is located approximately 140 miles east of Los Angeles and a short distance to neighboring Palm Springs area. This protected land is comprised of vegetated high desert and low desert making up this extraordinary national park.
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This park has many interesting and diverse parts that will appeal to any exploring hiker.

Much of this land expands across both the Colorado and Mojave Deserts and is home to a variety of species living in this desert ecosystem. Here are a few of the living residents of this amazing national park:

Big Horn Sheep
Chuckwalla
Cactus wren
Beavertail cactus
Greater roadrunner
Desert tortoise
Desert iguana

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Vegetation includes:
Joshua trees
Prickly pear cactus
Hedgehog cactus
Juniper
Scrub oak
Mojave yucca
Cholla cactus
and many more.

Our day of exploration at the park was on National Public Lands day so we enjoyed an entry fee free day. The next fee free day at the parks is November 11, Veterans Day. As we continue our journey through this park, we were more amazed the further we went. The beauty, quiet, serene, and peaceful ora of the desert is intoxicating.

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Big Horn Sheep
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Barker Dam Hiking Trail

We were lucky enough to also spot some big horn sheep and capture them wandering around near the Barker Dam area of the park.

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Some of the key points of interest that you may wish to explore on your visit to Joshua Tree National Park are listed here:

⭐️Quail Springs
⭐️Keys Ranch
⭐️Barker Dam
⭐️Hidden Valley
⭐️Keys View
⭐️Ryan Mountain
⭐️Lost Horse Mine
⭐️Geology Road Tour
⭐️Cholla Cactus Garden
⭐️Cottonwood Spring
⭐️Indian Cove

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Joshua Tree   fitlifeandtravel.com

Barker Dam Trail

Check out the hiking trail at Barker Dam: a short, easy pleasant trail to the historical dam. And wow those boulders and rock formations are incredible!


Skull Rock Trail


Hidden Valley

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Hidden Valley Camping area

Camping is also allowed and the sites are located near impressive boulders and lovely trails, this particular site is located at Hidden Valley; this area was where a cattle rustlers hideout was.

Views throughout the park:

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Quiet, serene and peaceful surroundings.


Silver Bell Mine

Cholla Cactus Garden
This garden is comprised of jumping cholla, so you do need to be careful and cautious as you stroll this attraction. It is a bit mesmerizing as the endless number of cholla cactus dominate this particular area of the park.

The cholla cactus (jumping cholla) with its barbed spine, are known to attach to skin, fur, and clothing.

The day we tipped toe through this garden, a female in the group in front of us ended up with a cholla spine in her shoe, and it appeared to go all the way through the rubber sole of her shoe.

Another side note; be cautious of bees near and around the cholla cactus garden area.
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Here is a bit more information you should know before you visit Joshua Tree National Park:
1.There is no cell phone service in the majority of the park.
2.Stay away from abandoned mines.
3.Carry at least one gallon of water per person per day.
4.Flash floods are a danger; avoid drainage areas during and after thunderstorms
5.Do not climb unless you are properly trained and equipped. (Rock climbing is allowed).
6.Pets are prohibited on the trails and beyond 100 feet from any park road, campground, or picnic area.
7.Off-road driving is prohibited.
Some camping sites are available at a first come, first serve basis; visit www.recreation.gov to learn more. Campgrounds are usually full on the weekends from October through May. Check out the website to plan your next visit.

Joshua Tree National Park directions.
74485 National Park Drive
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277
760-367-5500
www.nps.gov/jotr

The desert may not be high on your list of places to see and visit, but Joshua Tree National Park may change your mind. It is incredible how this desert land teaches us about adaption as these animals, plants, and landscapes adapt to the summer 100 plus degree temperatures, relentless sun, and so little water. That is impressive in my book.

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Channel Islands NP: A Whale Of An Adventure

Channel Islands National Park might be one of the most under appreciated national parks of them all. Granted, there are still several national parks I have yet to visit, but Channel Islands has definitely been put on my ‘visit again’ bucket list.
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We had no expectations of this park and were open minded and excited to see something new. This national park is truly amazing and unique. So much natural beauty, landscapes, and pleasant surprises; like seeing a whale surrounded by a pod of dolphins and seagulls all in their natural habitat!

The Channel Islands are comprised of a total of 8 islands of which only 4 are included and designated as the national park. These four islands include San Miguel Island, Santa Rosa Island, Santa Cruz Island, and Anacapa Island. You must call ahead and plan your visit and tour either by boat or airplane concessioners that will take you to the islands. The national park visitor center is located nearby the Ventura Harbor where the boat excursions depart from. Ventura Harbor is also a visiting stop for the Hikiananalia California Voyage; a 2800 mile voyage from Hawaii to California using traditional old school non-instrument navigation.

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Ventura Harbor Channel Islands National Park

The several activities you can do on the islands include the following:

Swim
Snorkel
Hike, explore tidepools, beaches, & rugged canyons
Camp
Kayak
Sail

This is one of the top scuba diving sites in the world as well.

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Prisoners Harbor Santa Cruz Island

Santa Cruz is the island we chose to explore and go hiking. We also planned the extra tour of Painted Cave.  We called about a week prior to our visit and made our reservation and purchase on the catamaran boat operated by Island Packers, Inc. There is an additional fee for Painted Cave; and it was well worth it! Learn more about prices and trip info here: islandpackers.com

For this type of adventure, you need to plan and be prepared in advance for your day trip, which is the tour that we chose. We were informed to bring the following since there are no concessions, water, or supplies on the island.

Packed lunch and snacks

Enough water for entire day

Dress in layers, weather can be unpredictable

Bring needed supplements to minimize motion sickness if needed.

Bring hat, sunglasses, sunscreen

Do not feed any animals

We arrived early at the Ventura marina and checked in around 8:10 a.m., it’s recommended that you arrive early so you are not delaying the departure of the boat. The scheduled time to board the boat is about 9:15 a.m.

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Ventura, California

There were approximately 85-100 people on this excursion. The weather was windy and the seas were very rough due to the hurricane to the south of the area (near Mexico). The staff member who checked us in asked us if we were okay with rough waters and if we have issues with motion sickness. We told her, “guess we will find out.”

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Ventura Harbor Island Packers Inc. Catamaran

We departed on time and began the morning with a fun and exciting bumpy boat ride. It was about 30 minutes later, when several folks started to feel motion sickness, but the crew members were fantastic and continuously walked around the boat to check on people and helped anyone who needed it.

I admit, I was getting close to that sick feeling, but I turned on my mental power and made it to the island.

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The boat ride is about one and half hour long, and the passengers who did not purchase the additional tour were dropped off at Prisoners Harbor and those of us remained on the boat and continued onto Painted Cave. This ride was approximately an additional 30 minutes one way. All I can say is,.. this was well worth it!

Painted Cave

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Painted Cave

 

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Painted Cave looking back out to the ocean

Painted Cave is a magnificent site that is one of largest and deepest sea caves in the world! You will see multi colors of remnants of algae formed on rocks and is absolutely beautiful as it reflects off the blue-green waters.
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This was such an incredible experience to gently float into the cave and hear the quiet, serene environment with the breathtaking surroundings.

We spent about 20-30 minutes pondering within the cave, of which if the weather and waves are too strong, they do not go into the cave,. But on this day we were lucky enough to have been able to go deeper in the cave and capture some incredible photos.

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We continued on and returned to Prisoners Harbor on Santa Cruz Island and disembarked the boat and began our hiking journey.
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We began hiking the trail of Del Norte and found a picnic table setting at a perfect viewing point and spot for enjoying our lunch.


We hiked about 2 hours before we had to start heading back to the boat dock for boarding.

On the return boat ride, it was a much smoother more enjoyable ride the on the way to the island. And we got lucky again with an added bonus on this experience as we encountered a hump back whale and a swarm of dolphins and seagulls on a feeding frenzy. Photos by: My husband.

Humpback Whale

This was the most incredible thing to see! This made our trip to the Channel Islands one of the most amazing experiences we’ve had.

Exploring around the island was spectacular as we captured some of the features and beauty that make up Santa Cruz Island.


Channel Islands National Park exceeded our expectations no doubt! The thrill of traveling over water to unfamiliar land and exploring the unknown is exhilarating! The wildlife on the island migrated over on vegetation. These include mice and fox. Precautions are mentioned about avoiding all contact with any of the animals on the island. Learn more about his beautiful park at nps.gov/chis

Here is more information to plan your next trip to Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park   Directions
1901 Spinnaker Drive
Ventura, CA 93001
805-658-5730
www.nps.gov/chis

Island Packers, Inc.
1691 Spinnaker Drive, Suite 105 B
Ventura, CA 93001
805-642-1393
www.islandpackers.com

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Enjoy more spectacular adventure with me!

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