I had been here before, but mostly spent time in the south end of the park. I have even stayed at the Cottonwood campground, but the sites there are just too tight and no electric, so won't do that again. I asked the ranger if there were any plans to build a more modern campground with larger sites inside the park, and the answer was no. That is a shame because this is the only busy national park I have been at where there were such small spaces that I could not get in.
This time I stayed in Indio and drove quickly from the south part of the park and took a different routs through the north end.
My biggest problem was that I made the mistake of going on a Thursday. This national park is near several good-sized cities in the Palm Springs, CA, area, so it was packed with local people hiking and enjoying themselves on a weekend. The problem with it being busy was that most people were in cars, so they were parked in all the available spots. There were several areas I wanted to stop at, but could not because there was no place to park.
Thought this hazy photo on the way there was interesting because of the layering on the mountains.
The entrance road on the southern part of the park is really in rough shape.
They call this a smoke bush because it looks a little like smoke.
This is a creosote bush.
The bush has tiny leaves which have an interesting smell. If you are in the desert and see one, pour a little water on a few leaves and you will be rewarded with a smell like burning rubber. I once washed my motorhome in a campsite that had a couple of creosote bushes near them. I kept thinking something was burning until I noticed the creosote bushes that were getting wet! (You can pick a couple of leaves and rub them between your fingers, but sprinkling them with water gives the same effect and does not harm the bush.)
This is an ocotillo. Unfortunately, the drought in this area means that its small leaves have mostly dried up, but after a rain or two, it will spring to life and even have red flowers at the tips of every branch.
This is what they call a "cholla garden." Some people call them jumping cholla because the spiky segments seem to jump on you as you pass and stick very strongly. You want to walk carefully in the desert so you don't brush up against one of these. Watch your dog, as well, because dogs get the little chunks caught in their fur as well.
The northwest part of the park had a lot of rocks. A lot of people were walking around and climbing on the, but I just took photos!
Finally, here are some Joshua Trees! They live mainly in the Mohave Desert, which is a lot drier than the Sonoran Desert, and can get by on one rainfall per year. And they are actually yucca instead of cactus.
Some kids were enjoying climbing on these rocks and hiding in the caves.
Parking on the wide shoulder was easy here.
There are a lot of Joshua trees here.
This is one of the pullover areas, and you can see why I could not stop at many of them.
This is a young Joshua Tree. The big ones can live 200 years and get to be 30' tall. This one is only about five feet tall.
Heading out of the park.