December 17, Joshua Tree NP

Last night was spent in a great campground in Joshua Tree called Ryan where we were surrounded by granite rocks that make the park famous. We woke up early to the sound of rain and were worried as we had a busy day planned. Luckily the rain quit very quickly and did not amount to much for the day.

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Our first stop was to Keys view. On our way up we passed thru a Joshua Tree Forest that Ton really enjoyed. We had been told by the Ranger at Mojave that the Joshua Tree’s here were a different sub-species than the ones at Mojave. Ton says she can see the difference, the trees here are taller and have less branches than the ones in Mojave. When we got to the top we had climbed into the clouds so Keys view was limited to about 50 yards.

Heading down we continued to enjoy the Joshua Trees and the drive. The next stop was the Geology Loop Road which is an 18 mile self guided loop that shows you the different rocks and the San Andreas fault. The park service says it is a difficult 4wd drive road, but in fact it is not bad at all and Scout did not even need to leave 2wd the whole way. We had the entire valley to ourselves for the entire trip which was fun.

Next stop was the Cholla Cactus garden which Ton loved. The Cholla Cactus is a Colorado Desert plant and the Joshua Trees are Mojave plants to show the impact of the two deserts coming together.

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The next stop was the Marine Corps Base at Twentynine Palms where we stocked up on food and did some shopping at the store. The last stop was the Indian Cove campground for the night. The campground is also a training base for begining rock climbers so we got to watch some folks climbing, and even scrambled up a couple of simple rocks ourselves.

Ton commented that the campgrounds at Joshua Tree were among the best we have seen in the park service.

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