Leaving Death Valley we were putting sun and sand behind us, for more sun and sand ahead. Joshua Tree is only slightly south east of Death Valley, so the climate is very much the same, but where Death Valley is flat and scrubby, Joshua Tree’s landscape is dotted with hills, rocks and mountains. We had the impression that Joshua Tree is just the name of the National Park, but it turns out there’s a town just at the mouth of the park entrance with the same name, providing a bunch of services which are not available in the park. We also had the very naive idea of just rocking up in the park to find a space to camp…
Around the park there are three Visitor Centres (none inside the park) and even though they don’t do campground bookings there they did know where spaces were open. Apparently the reservable sites are booked months in advance, and the first-come-first-served sites fill up as people vacate spots, despite there being hundreds of sites! So take it from us, if you want to camp in Joshua Tree, you want to be there before noon just to scope out freshly emptied campsites. Granted we arrived on a Friday afternoon, on Easter… but now we’ve seen that Joshua Tree is one of the climbers’ meccas, so don’t count on it being empty at any time.
Sitting in a coffee shop, a couple of climbers overheard us looking for a motel under $50 or other campgrounds around the park and told us about a little known property in town – a climber bought some land, hollowed out (or lowered) the ground so it’s literally a huge hole in the ground where other climbers can camp out for free, out of sight of the road presumably before heading into Joshua Tree National Park. How cool is that?? 🙂 And how awesome of them to help us out! Wherever you guys are thanks again! If you’re a traveller or climber or backpacker and would like to know more about this spot or where it is and we’d be happy to share.
That meant that the next day we got ourselves a nice little campsite at Jumbo Rocks. We did the Ryan mountain hike the same afternoon – not too steep of a climb, but switchbacks and narrow trails made it interesting and scenic. We had a nice relaxed read at the summit and Kiernan packed some cairn stones to mark his passage 🙂 There were other people there, chilling and meditating but quiet overall.
We spent two nights in Joshua Tree National Park and on the last morning we visited a bath house for a much needed shower (no running water in the park). Coyote Corner is a really cute gift shop right across from the Joshua Tree Visitor Center, and they offer hot showers at $4 for 7 and half minutes. That doesn’t sound like a lot of time… but you can do a speed shower in that time. At least we had the use of the bathroom for as long as we needed. And if you’d like a shower, this place was clean, spacious, and had plenty of hot water. WE WERE REBORN!
Oh yeah, and we met a guy at the laundromat who had also done a motorcycle road trip through a couple of states before; he is currently trying to persuade his girlfriend to do another short motorcycle excursion 🙂 It’s always nice meeting other bikers on the road, or older men who used to ride bikes because they’re always quick to share their wisdom and stories.