National Park # 2 Planning: Joshua Tree

We’re excited to bring the girls to Joshua Tree National Park this coming weekend. We went to Joshua Tree in May 2015 before the girls were on the scene and had a blast. Here are some pictures from our first trip. As always, we plan on doing a pre-trip planning post plus a recap post. 

Lodging:

We’ll be dusting off the tent again for this trip. Our plan is to camp at the Jumbo Rocks campground. It has 124 campsites and is first come, first served, so we’ll be heading out EARLY Friday morning to ensure we get a spot. A number of campgrounds at Joshua Tree are first come, first served, which has its pros and cons. Because we don’t have a reservation, we could back out at the last minute and not lose any money. But, we might end up at another campground if Jumbo Rocks is already full.

Travel:

As mentioned above, we’ll be driving and leaving very early (~5:00 A.M.). It’s about 150 miles one-way to Joshua Tree, so it should take about two and a half hours.

Kid factor:

  • According to the weather reports, it is going to be incredibly pleasant weather over the weekend.It is the desert though, which means sun exposure and cool, windy nights will be on the menu. Our Kelty Kid Carriers have sun shades, but we’ll be bringing extra sunscreen.
  • The elevation at Jumbo Rocks is 4,400 feet, which should not be a problem for us. At the Grand Canyon, the girls were at an elevation of over 7,000 feet and did just fine.
  • With the two of us growing up and camping on the East coast, we were accustomed to being surrounded by trees and shade. These two features don’t readily present themselves at Joshua Tree, so in addition to our tent, we’ll also pack our LightSpeed beach tent to provide additional shade. We’ll also have an extra tarp as well if we want to rig up a sunsail off the tailgate of the minivan.

Kid-tivities

  • With Leona starting to crawl, our main focus will be on keeping her in the shade while we are in camp. We’ll also bring along their toys to keep them occupied. Their days will be relatively normal in terms of feedings, playtime, and naps, but we’ll be sprinkling in some short excursions. As the girls get older and more mobile/engaged, we hope this section gets more robust with content. Until then, we’re just getting them used to camping.

Reference materials:

  • We won’t be doing this guided tour this time, but last time we went to Keys Ranch, the homestead of a family that lived off the land and was able to thrive with a full vegetable garden, fruit trees, and fishing pond. Our Ranger guide was an absolute gem.

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    Keys Ranch

  • Ryan Mountain is a great day hike that puts you at the second highest elevation (5,457 feet) of Joshua Tree National Park. It is not too strenuous and can be done in a few hours. Plus, it comes with great panoramic views.

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    Mary celebrating at the Summit of Ryan Mountain

  • Forty-nine Palms Oasis is another great day hike that lets you experience the sharp contrast of the desert and a canyon with water.  

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    It’s no mirage, its a palm tree oasis.

 

We can’t wait to give you the recap next week.

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