From the Salton Sea, you can take the advice of your GPS or go through Box Canyon along Box Canyon Road. After talking to the camp hosts at Salton, I decided to take this shorter and more scenic route and was very glad I did. It was really an excellent road, although the shoulders were sand so I did not pull my motorhome over to stop. Since I saw no other cars in the 25 miles along this route, that did not matter! Here are a couple of photos of Box Canyon and the road that runs along the interstate:
After crossing the interstate, I entered the national park.
This is a wash where water flows during heavy rains. Apparently, they had some heavy rains the previous week and also in August.
What I neglected to take a photo of was my car keys sitting on the seat of my motorhome, while I was outside with all the doors and windows locked. I sat around for a while visiting with the rangers hoping someone with an RV would come by who had a "basement" compartment key that would enable me to break-in, but after an hour of no luck, had to get help from the rangers to call dispatch who would call CoachNet for me to get someone to come to get me back in. The whole thing took three hours because it was in such a desolate place, with roads having speed limits of 35-45 MPH.
Anyway, it was late when I arrived at the Cholla Garden, so I could not take the time to walk the paths, but I did give the guidebook the rangers had given me to a woman who was looking for one. Need to come back here someday and spend some more time. This is the densest concentration of cholla I have ever seen.
This is a strange cactus. It looks like it was moved here from some other place. Often, rangers will move an unusual cactus if they have to build something where it is located. Might be a hedgehog cactus. Not sure what variety, however.
Finally, on the way out, I got to finally see some Joshua trees!! I saw some of these many years ago when I taught a class at Edwards Air Force Base, but have not seen any since. They are about 15-20 feet tall.
They have such funny arms and shapes, but don't produce much shade!!
Elevation at the national park is about 4,000 feet, but you can see the valley in the distance. The town is called 29 Palms and is at about 2,000 feet, so I had a nice coast downhill.
This night, my adventure continued. I got to my campsite late and found the gate locked and no on around. I had to walk a very long distance in the dark and cold with only a small flashlight to find other campers who could give me the lock combination. I found a family in two vehicles. One of the women kindly drove me back to the gate where I had left my vehicle and waited until I got in and started my engine. Her husband met me at my site and was ready to help me back in. Very nice of them! Overall, campers are extremely nice and helpful. I almost never feel unsafe in a campground. In the one or two situations where I have felt a bit unsafe, I left as soon as I could.
By the way, the next day I went shopping and bought a much more powerful flashlight and will keep it in the cab area so it is easily accessible. I don't like driving at night and have only parked a couple of times in the dark, but it is very nice to have a good flashlight.