Our current travels have us staying in Palm Springs California, but we're always looking for a good national park to go visit. Just over an hour away from our campground is Joshua Tree National Park!
Covering over 1200 square miles, it's larger than the state of Rhode Island! President Theodore Roosevelt established the park as a National Monument in 1936, which was then re-designated a National Park in 1994.
One of the signs we noticed on the way in. It reminded us of a similar sign we saw on the way into the Florida swamplands with Bears, Birds, Deer, and Alligators.
Our National Park pass comes in handy once again. We've seen some amazing places for just $80 this year.
Already we're seeing wildlife! This bunny was pretty tame just letting me get close enough to take a video.
We were lucky that the entrance gate had a couple Junior Ranger books for the kids. The Visitor's Center is 10 minutes outside the park.
One of the activities has them looking for different types of plants. These desert plants have adaptations that protect them.
Our first stop is a spot called the Hidden Valley Trail.
It's a section of cliffs that surround a valley where cattle rustlers would hide their stolen herds.
And we're able to get up close and see the unique "tree" that this park is known for. The Joshua Tree!
Despite the heat here, the kids were excited to get out and go exploring.
And so that's what we did! There's mountains to be climbed!
And caves to explore!
We made our way from rock outcropping to rock outcropping, looking for areas where the rocks have fallen to make a pocket.
Then looked for critters in the area before doing our own exploring.
The kids told me later that Joshua Tree is their favorite park out of all the National Parks we've visited.
Because they loved all the climbing and exploring.
They liked being adventurers, making their way up a rock face and looking for things to explore.
The Hidden Valley got a big thumbs up from us.
Ooh, look at those strong kids.
Alli is holding up the rock and saving Ian.
Our next spot was a few miles down the road at a place called Skull Rock. Pretty cool!
There's other formations that look like giant hands that are ready to grab you.
Squeezing into a tight space where two rocks came together.
Our next spot was another 10 miles or so down the road near the campgrounds. Here there was a series of rocks that looked like the vertebrae of some giant creature that ended up here.
Which of course needs to be climbed.
The kids answered all the activities in their Junior Ranger book, save one. Attending a Ranger program. The only problem is, there are no ranger programs all day here in Joshua Tree.
Looking around the visitor center, we got to see a little bit more about Joshua Trees and the differences between regular trees. Touching the slice of Joshua Tree, it's a lot softer than a hardwood tree.
Ooh, that's a pretty picture. We do love dark sky areas. I'd love to see something like that.
The kids spoke to the ranger in charge at the visitor's center and he gave them a pass on attending a ranger talk.
Theresa also asked about recommendations for seeing some dark sky places. The ranger let us know there's a bit of a moon tonight, but it's going to be low on the horizon and shouldn't interfere too much. It's didn't take too much for Theresa to decide to come back again tonight!
Some excerpts from the Junior Ranger Books. I liked Ian's poem. It's an acrostic with the word DESERT. He came up with it himself.
So much to see
Rock Climbing Too
Alli was proud of herself that she was able to find every single item on her bingo sheet.
The kids getting sworn in.
Congratulations kids! That's one more Junior Ranger badge!
A closer look at the badge with a Joshua Tree, tortoise, and rocks in the background.
We drove back to Palm Springs to grab some dinner. Along the drive, Theresa got in touch with Jacob to see if he'd be interested in joining us. I love that Jacob is willing to go along with crazy last minute ideas. The five of us hopped in the truck and drove to the southern side of Joshua Tree to where the ranger recommended.
I tossed a few folding mattresses into the bed and together we laid down to watch the stars.
The moon was a little higher and a little brighter than we were hoping, so one side of the sky was a bit blown-out. It was bright enough to walk around without a flashlight once your eyes adjusted.
The Milky Way was a cloudy spot in the sky to the naked eye, but the camera picked it up a little better.
I asked everyone to look at the camera and hold still for 20 seconds for a photo. Next time I'll have to specify to smile, or at least look enthused.
What a day!...with all that heat and rock climbing I'm surprised the kids lasted that long! ...maybe that can help explain Ian's expression in the last photo :-) Wonderful way to cap the evening...star gazing...so many stars to see and to just drink in the beauty of the night sky. Another great Junior Ranger badge day...good job, Alli & Ian (Ian, I especially liked your creative DESERT poem)! So appropriate that the badge has rocks on it, since the rock exploration and climbing was truly a memorable time (enough to make it their favorite NP out of all the ones they visited...wow!) All that exercising made the kids super strong...strong enough to lift that huge rock (and Ian only used his pinkies, too :-) ) So many different rock formations to explore. That prickly plant/cactus near the beginning looked eerie because of its "frosty" white appearance...very unusual. Interesting info on the Joshua tree's trunk. EOMReplyDelete