Joshua Tree National Park is located just south of the town of Joshua Tree and 140 mi/225 km east of Los Angeles. With trees that look like they jumped from the pages of a Dr. Seuss children's book, the beautiful park is also a rock climbers' oasis—with desert, mountains and wilderness.
After a quick visit to the Oasis Visitor's Center at Twentynine Palms or the Visitor's Center at Joshua Tree, drive to Jumbo Rocks to view the various rock formations and Skull Rock. Or meander through Cholla Cactus Garden and the thorny Ocotillo Patch.
On clear days, which are pretty common, the panorama from Keys View extends beyond Salton Sea to Mexico. There are 12 self-guided nature walks in the park and ranger-guided tours are offered by reservation, including to Key's Ranch, a historic homestead. Permits are available for backcountry camping.
The park is busiest in the winter, most notably with rock climbers. Summer in the park can be challenging during the day because of the extreme temperatures. There are no restaurants, hotels, gas stations or stores in the park, so prepare before you go. There are nine rudimentary campgrounds in the park, but only two of them (Black Rock and Cottonwood) have running water and flush toilets. There are no showers or other modern amenities in any of the campsites. Wildflower season is late February, and spring is a great time for bird-watching. http://www.nps.gov/jotr/index.htm.
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