It took us longer than expected: The road from San Diego to Joshua Tree Nationalpark was a full-day drive, but we got impressed by the diversity of landscapes. I have to admit that we didn’t choose to take the direct highway, because we wanted to visit some places on the (indirect) way:
- Anza Borrego Desert State Park
- Salton Sea
- Salvation Mountain
- Coachella Valley and Palm Springs
A salt lake and a painted mountain
I remember this day so diverse, because within each 2 hours, the landscape and vegetation changed a few times. We had it all: Mountain mist, desert draught, painted hills and from the deserted salt flats. Until 5 pm we felt pretty lonely on the road, driving just couple of miles from the mexican border. We saw many mexican fruit pickers on the grapes and date fields and the cities felt actually more “mexican”. Then we reached Salton Sea:
Salton Sea was actually really impressive. It is one of the world’s largest inland seas and lowest spots on earth at -227 below sea level. I guess it is not the main tourist spot, because we haven’t really seen other traveler.
Not a lot, but we spotted some tourists on Salvation Mountain. This mountain was built by outsider artist and lone dreamer “Leonard Knight”, who painted his visions and biblical quotations on a dirt ridge. Although acutally an artifical mountain, this clearly pops out, because of ist bright colors in the middle of the desert. What an eye-candy!
Leonard passed away last year, but he used to sleep in this truck (called the “Salvation Truck”), which is decorated with a house on the back.
Impressed by this artwork, we had to continue driving, if we wanted to reach Joshua Tree by night. It was really stormy outside and as we arrived at the entrance of the nationalpark, we doubted our intensions to camp in the national park. We consulted some park rangers at the information center and they just asked us: “Do you love wind?” This question gave us the answer immediately: We stayed at a Motel in the city of Twentynine Palms.
Joshua Tree Nationalpark
We started early in the day to make our way through the national park, which is part of the Mojave Desert.
After about 40 minutes we saw impressive rock formations, formed more than 100 million years ago and Joshua trees, for which the park is named. It isn’t really a tree but a species of yucca. Like other desert plants, its waxy, spiny leaves can efficiently conserve moisture. The Joshua trees blooms February through April with cream-colored flowers and are home to many animals, like the Scott’s Oriole bird. I was lucky to have seen one of them 🙂
This is truly a climbers paradise! We jumped over boulders and climbed on “The Arch”-boulder. We continued driving to stop at other amazing boulders. We spotted some campgrounds and felt really sad that we couldn’t camp out there. It must be such a great feeling to put your tent just next to huge, round boulders, with a great sunset and the really funny looking Joshua trees around. Maybe another time…
After visiting the national park, we drove back to Ventura. Overall, I’m really happy to have seen so many special places in only 5 days. Each day was unique and brought his own surprises and highlights.
I had few days to rest, before I left up north to visit the last part: Big Sur! I will honor this part of my travel another blog post, because it was just wonderul!