As our first trip to Joshua Tree National Park was coming to an end, we were joined by our nephew and niece. Max and Makala made the trip south through some pretty atrocious weather conditions to join us for a week of California Desert adventures. This was the second year Makala had joined us and the third year for Max. We always tease them about not bringing the winter weather from home with them, but it never fails—the weather always takes a turn for their visit. The day of their arrival, a massive wind and dust storm hit the area dropping temperatures 20 degrees and bringing the threat of snow to Joshua Tree.

This beautiful sunset greeted Max & Makala after their long journey
Our ORV on the left and Max’s on the right with San Gorgonio Mountain in the background

For Max and Makala’s only day in Joshua Tree, we hiked an area that is popular for its rock formations. We began our adventure at Skull Rock, one of the most famous rock formations in the park. From there we took the trail to Jumbo Rock Campground where we crossed Park Boulevard and headed north toward Split Rock. Past Split Rock, we looped around and made our way back to Face Rock. This made for a fantastic 5 mile, figure-eight loop. This wasn’t the best trail for getting to see lots of Joshua trees, but the rock formations were some of the best in the park.

Our hike took us from Skull Rock, through Jumbo Rocks Campground, then north to the Split Rock area (area circled in blue)
Face Rock on the far right
If you look closely, you can see the first of the snow flakes falling as we were nearing the end of our hike

By the time we returned to the truck, huge snow flakes were falling and we had quite the squall for a few minutes. The worst of the storm passed quickly enough and didn’t leave much for accumulation. While we would have preferred a warm and sunny day, not too many people get to hike Joshua Tree in the snow, so that was special. From there, we took Max and Makala on the hike to historic Ryan Ranch and then we drove out to Keys View. We figured the panoramic views down into Coachella, Indio, and Palm Springs would be a bust (they were), but it was worth a try.

Our last stop of the day was at the Joshua Tree National Park Visitor Center in the town of Joshua Tree. My favorite thing there was some colorful murals showing Joshua Tree’s prehistoric flora and fauna.

This concluded our first visit to Joshua Tree National Park. We had such a fun week that we were already making plans to return for a hike the following week and a few more hikes in January. But for now, it was time to continue south to warmer weather.

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Makala & Lusha at the Joshua Tree Visitor Center

The Adventure Continues

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Face Rock

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