From Tucson I made a bit of a last-minute decision to head to Joshua Tree National Park. I looked on their online map and saw that it might have some backcountry biking opportunities, and my cousin Ellen keeps telling me I would love it there, so I went! I tried to visit the Sonora Monument on the way but it seems to not have any infrastructure whatsoever. No visitor center, no printed maps, nothing but a road running through it and a few trailhead parking areas. I did park and walk down a path for a bit and took two pictures but they were so unremarkable I deleted them accidentally that night, thinking I took them by accident.
I got to Joshua Tree just after lunch and came in the South entrance. This turned out to be important because the park spans the boundary between two deserts: The Colorado Desert and the Mojave Desert, and only the Mojave has the joshua trees. I chatted with a really spectacular ranger at the visitor center who told me that unfortunately most of their trails and backroads are very sandy so biking would be very difficult. But then he just gushed on and on about the Mojave Desert, which was my next planned stop. I decided to camp in Joshua Tree for the night and then head up there in the morning.
The drive up through the park was very cool, past different patches of various desert plants including this alien-like black chorro cactus. I heard it called “jumping chorro” because of how easily the needles seem to jump off at the slightest touch. I was also told that you need pliers to pull them out of your skin. So I did not test out the “jumping” part.
And then there were Joshua Trees!
I picked an awesome campsite sheltered by some of the crazy rock formations that the park is famous for. Then I went on a drive and a short hike to see as much as I could before sunset.
This was a very quick visit to the park and I’m sure I will see it again. At this point I was already feeling tight on time and my last chance for a good bike ride was coming up. Mojave was next, and it turned out to be my favorite. Coming soon.