Joshua Tree National Park

Amanda's Top 3 California 'Must Sees' 

#1: Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park wasn't originally on our itinerary for our month in California. But when I mentioned to Daniel that my favorite climate is the desert, we decided to take the hour-and-a-half detour from Palm Springs to spend a day in California's closest desert.


Yes, I love the desert. I've been to the Judean Desert (aka "THE" desert - the one where the Israelites wandered for forty years) and I absolutely loved it. The outrageous heat that actually felt good because it's so dry, the waves of sand, the satisfying and relaxing monotony of colors - I think I could live in the desert. That's why I really wanted to see California's desert; but what I saw in Joshua Tree was not at all what I was expecting. In fact, Joshua Tree is one of the coolest places I've ever been. It was almost as if we were hiking on the face of another planet - the trees, terrain and animals that we saw were so foreign compared to what I thought I'd see.


The trees are absolutely kooky. In fact, they are the same trees that inspired Dr. Seuss to write "The Lorax." Now, my first word was "book" and I grew up with Dr. Seuss. So my love for reading, my childhood memories, and having an imagination of my own - it's not hard to see why I loved Joshua Tree and its odditied.

But the best part about Joshua Tree - the memory that has been forever engraved in my mind - is the silence. Once we walked away from the main road, Daniel and I had to just stop and sit because it was absolutely silent. Yes, being from New York City, even the suburbs are strikingly quiet when we go to visit. But I had never heard such an all-consuming silence - no birds, no insects, no wind, no voices. I rarely hear quiet these days, and I almost never hear "silent"; silence is overwhelmingly relaxing.

Out of the many, many sights we saw during our month in California, I would have to say that - hands down - Joshua Tree National Park was my favorite destination. My #1 California "Must See." I absolutely recommend it.

A few more things:

  • Don't forget to bring water before you go into the desert! If you do forget (like we did) the Visitor's Center located at the park's entrance sell giant bottles of water for $1 each.
  • An outrageous percentage of the park is uninhabited - this means there aren't even roads that can take you to these places. They are for extreme campers/hikers only. We stuck to the car path and did a giant loop that included some awesome sights (like a look-out and a mountain of boulders.) Take a look at the map while you plan your visit.
  • Be warned: almost every plant you'll see in Joshua Tree is sharp!
  • If you love wild-life - and, better yet, if you love wild life and you're from the east coast - you're in for a treat. We only saw two animals during our day in Joshua Tree, but I was very excited about what we were able to spot: an actual real, live road runner and a kangaroo rat. What a sighting!