On the Road is a weekday feature spotlighting reader photo submissions. From the exotic to the familiar, whether you’re traveling or in your own backyard, we would love to see the world through your eyes.
This series was created by Alain Chamot (1971-2020).
Despite having lived in Southern California for nine years, I had never been to Joshua Tree. We spent three days in the park. The first day we drove the Park Road, which passes by some of the most popular sites, as well as giving a good overall look at the park. We also stopped at every campground to see what we missed by not getting a reservation in the park. The second day we took the long trip to the south entrance at Cottonwood Springs, and on our third day we drove the Geology Trail.
Oasis of Mara. This oasis is a very short walk from the North Visitor Center. It was formed from groundwater that found a way to the surface through faults in the rock. Over time, with development, the source dried up. The Park Service pipes water to it now to keep the original plants and wildlife going.
There are a lot of areas where the whole plain around you is covered in a forest of Joshua trees. I tried several times to get a picture, this is the best I could do.
I expected to see Joshua Trees. I didn’t expect to see these rock formations, even though the guidebook said the park was a haven for rock climbers.
Indian Cove Campground. This is one of several campgrounds inside the park. All sites are reservation only, there are no hookups, and most are too small for any camper except the smallest popup or van. However, most of the sites are tucked up against the rocks just like these and look like great places for car camping with a tent.
Geology Trail. The 16-mile Geology Trail is recommended for high clearance 4×4 vehicles, which is what we tow with. Between this and a few other unpaved roads we spent most of the day away from the crowds, feeling like we were part of the landscape. This is as close as I’m ever going to get to a back-country desert hike.
This type of rock is monzogranite, from magma that intruded around 85 million years ago, cooled below the surface, cracked to form joints, then weathered to these rounded boulders and rubble.
Cholla Cactus Garden. Another difficult picture; a photographer’s dilemma – once you put a frame around it you lose it. This is a field of cholla in every direction, just amazing to see. This is in the transition zone between the Mojave Desert (Joshua trees) and the lower Colorado Desert (Cholla, ocotillo).
Cottonwood Springs. This is one of the Desert Fan Palm oases in the park.
Looking up at the palms from inside the grove.