Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (or, the things you find in the desert, part 2)

Joshua Tree is unlike any other US national park I’ve ever been to. We could only afford a few hours there, which, by and large is enough for a drive through, but I can’t wait to go back and do some real climbing when the kids are a little bigger. But for now, the rocks and plants and trees were so fun, and such a change from the other national parks we had visited recently.

Though we were staying south of the park, we entered from the West Entrance (which is on the northwest side of the park — note the Joshua Tree Visitor Center is outside the park limits) and headed for Hidden Valley.

We could have spent all day there. We spent a disproportionate amount of time there, and it was starting to get super hot. We hopped in the car and headed Skull Rock, but found it was super busy with people wanting the photo, so we didn’t stay too long.

We headed for the Cholla Cactus Garden having heard that it was an easy, kid-friendly hike. But, when we got there, we saw this sign. With some apiphobia going on (Charlie has an allergy to bee stings, and Stewart got stung on the very first day of our trip), I hopped out to check out the situation and got back in the car very quickly. It was just getting too hot and I wasn’t about to risk a bee sting without an epi-pen.

We continued down the Pinto Basin Road, which offered some pretty spectacular views – the kind that makes you feel so tiny – before we got to the Cottonwood Visitor Center, which the kiddos were very excited about since they hadn’t gotten their Junior Ranger activity books yet.
We quickly filled it out and did their oaths. Mae is still so young, and Stewart too, but some rangers are pretty tough on the “quizzing” section of the Junior Ranger program, and others are a little more empathetic. It doesn’t really matter – I would be so surprised to hear of a ranger withholding a badge from a four year old wannabe park ranger. They should rethink their profession if they did!

Tired from a hot, long morning, we headed back to our campsite, which by the way was supposedly 55+ (oops! Young families watch out for those!) but it was fine though I’m always conscious of how noisy we can be! We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing, swimming, running, and enjoying a gorgeous California sunset.

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