Travel Journal (1/31/2019): Joshua Tree National Park

Today we headed Southeast of Santa Barbara, California to visit a national park that I have been wanting to visit for quite some time. Not only does Joshua Tree National Park share my name, but it is also one of the most underrated parks in the Western United States.

The park is named after the interesting looking, but also very beautiful, Joshua Trees that are found in abundance within the park. In some areas of the park there are hundreds of these amazing trees growing in close proximity to one another.

In order to avoid the worst of LA’s traffic, we got up at 3:30am this morning to set off for the park. There are always cars on the road in Los Angeles, but we didn’t have any slow downs at all on the way to the park. We stopped for breakfast and still made it to the park by 7:30am.

In addition to its large quantity of Joshua Trees, the park is also known for its abundance of large, interesting rock formations. These rock formations litter the landscape inside Joshua Tree National park and can be quite large. In fact, some of these formations are so large and technically difficult to climb that they attract some of the best rock climbers in the world.

One of my favorite spots in Joshua Tree National Park was undoubtedly the Key’s View Lookout. The views from this high altitude lookout were nothing short of breathtaking.

I had done my research for the shots I wanted to take at the park and I knew going in that the views from Key’s Lookout were going to be pretty, but I underestimated just how pretty they would be. We ended up spending an hour just admiring the view and taking pictures at the lookout. No pictures can do this lookout justice. You need to see it in person.

Another favorite spot of mine in the park was the Jumbo Rocks area. This area of the park has the highest concentrations of rock formations and some of the best camp sites in the park. You could spend days exploring this part of Joshua Tree National Park alone.

I would say my favorite rock formation in the Jumbo Rocks area was Skull Rock, which got its name because it obviously looks like a skull. It can be accessed right off the roadside or you can take a 1.5 mile round-trip hike to it from the camp sites in Jumbo Rocks.

One of my favorite parts of the day was doing some rock scrambling in the rock formations inside the park. We are not experienced climbers, so we didn’t climb any rock faces during our visit, but we did spend a good amount of time climbing up, under, and thru the rock formations.

There are so many cracks, crevices, and slots within the rock formations that the routes to take as you scramble up, under, or thru these amazing rock formations are almost endless. Though you should always be careful of where you step or place your hands because rattlesnakes are prevalent within the park.

Overall, our visit to Joshua Tree National Park was amazing and well worth the 3.5 hour drive from Santa Barbara to see. I would like to come back at some point and spend a whole weekend doing some more exploration. I have heard the star gazing at the park at night is absolutely amazing.

Weather permitting, tomorrow we hope to get out on a boat to explore the Channel Islands National Park and the amazing wildlife amongst the islands. This includes some whale watching as grey whales and humpback whales are both active in this area this time of year. I’ll check back in tomorrow. Until then, safe and happy travels!

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Categories: California, Journal Entries, Mountains, Pacific Parks, TravelTags: , , , , , , , ,


  1. Not sure I’d want to be making a 3:30 start haha. Glad you finally got to visit though, I really like skull rock!

  2. A great post, I had not heard of this park before, so thanks for enlightening me 🙂

  3. I’m so glad you enjoyed Joshua Tree! The stargazing here is amazing. There’s a volunteer-run hobbyist group called Sky’s the Limit that has events during parts of the year. Their star parties are always a blast and they bring out some really nice telescopes. The Milky Way is easily seen throughout most of the park, and my favorite is the Cholla Cactus Garden.

    • Awesome!!! I loved the Cholla Cactus Garden as well. Beautiful. I would love to come back again when I have more time and do some camping/star gazing and some more hikes/rock scrambles. I am going to be putting together a guide for Joshua Tree and will include your tip on the Sky’s the Limit group 👍👍

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