Winter Break Palm Springs, Day 5

Today was our big day of adventure — touring Joshua Tree National Park

Early rising at 5:30am, hoping to be on the road by 6:30am.  But that is wishful thinking, we didn’t leave until 7:15am.  I was a little worried about the rush hour morning commute, but then I realized that half the people who live in the Palm Springs area are probably retired, so they don’t need to get anywhere!  Traffic was fine and we arrived to the park by 8:15am and at 8:45am we were on the first of many hiking trails…

  • Hidden Valley, one hour.  Awesome rock formations in a once hidden valley
  • Barker Dam, one hour.  We saw big horn sheep!  Well, we had to use our binoculars to really see them, but it was pretty cool!  Our trail also had some petroglyphs.
  • Wall Street Mill, one hour.  A hike to an actual ore mill that was abandoned years and years ago, relics of the past included some rusty old cars.
  • Keys View — this is the park’s viewpoint that we drove to and had lunch
  • Ryan’s Mountain, one hour fifteen minutes.  This 2.8 mile round-trip hike is rated as moderately strenuous, with a suggested time of 2.5 – 3 hours hiking time.  Lisa wasn’t feeling up to it, so I sent solo and ascended to the top in under 32 minutes.  I took more time going down because I stopped for more pictures, but in total I hiked up and down the trail in half the suggested time, oh yeah!
  • Skull Rock, one hour fifteen minutes.  More awesomely cool huge rock formations, the loop trail passed through a campground and continued on the other side of the Park Road to complete the loop.
  • The Arch, 45 minutes.  Right at sunset, a very short hike to the arch and some photos of the setting sun.
  • Cholla Cactus Garden, ten minutes.  We hiked this loop very fast because it was getting very dark, it was super cold windy, and we didn’t want to have any accidents with the cholla cacti!

We exited the park just before 6pm in pitch black darkness — tomorrow is the winter equinox and the shortest day of the year!  After our full day of burning calories, we opted for an Italian dinner and capped off our night with some Cold Stone Ice Creamery treats.  At not even 9pm has arrived and Lisa is out, as soon will be I!

Log of expenses:

$27   Italian dinner
$5.75  Cold Stone Ice Creamery

$32.75  Total; our rental car averages $21 per day and we already bought our Joshua Tree pass yesterday at $25

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