9 Things to Know About Camping Joshua Tree NP

Joshua Tree Star Trail

Star trails over Black Rock Canyon Campground at Joshua Tree National Park near Yucca Valley.

There are several reasons that I travel to Joshua Tree National Park to experience nature. Following are some of my observations and what I consider practical things to know learned from my visits to JTNP.

1.  Joshua Tree National Park is easily accessible

from Interstate 10 Freeway in Southern California. It is where the Colorado Desert and Mojave Desert meet. The Mojave is considered high desert, 2,000 to 4,000 feet in elevation, and is cooler and milder than the Colorado, which is the Low Desert – think Palm Springs.

2.  It is a short (relatively) drive from home

(depending on time of day and day of the week). Traffic in Southern California is a nightmare during the daily commute.

3.  Joshua Tree National Park is the closest place to my home in Orange County with low light pollution in Southern California.

Light pollution is caused by urbanization and is the man-made alteration of light levels in the outdoors. Sky glow is one form of light pollution, which reduces dramatically the visibility of stars in the sky. Because of its close proximity to Yucca Valley, Black Rock Canyon Campground has lots of light pollution.

4.  It is an exceptional place to create interesting night photographs.

Blue hour in Joshua Tree National Park

Sunset at Joshua Tree National Park

The bristly and twisted Joshua trees, a member of the yucca family, make great subjects for daytime photos, too.

5.  Cell service is available at Black Rock Campground – if you just can’t be without it.

6.  No cell service is available as you go deeper into the park.

Rangers patrol regularly, so if you happen to lock your keys in your vehicle, it won’t be too long before someone comes to your rescue.

7.  Make reservations ahead of your visit at Black Rock Canyon Campground and Indian Cove.

Black Rock Canyon is close to Yucca Valley. Indian Cove is near the Ranger Station at Indian Cove Road in Twentynine Palms. All other reservations are first come, first serve on all other campgrounds in the park.

8.  Some of the campgrounds close in the summer.

You can check ahead at the National Park Service website – www.nps.gov/jotr

9.  As you watch dawn break over the desert, you realize that it is worth getting up before sunrise.

Sunrise and Joshua Trees

Sunrise over the Joshua Tree National Park desert.

I have discovered that this is the reason I camp there overnight.

Please share your Joshua Tree National Park experiences in the Comments below.

Getting All My Ducks in a Row

All My Ducks in a Row

We got all our ducks in a row at Oxbow Regional Park in

Gresham, Oregon

Ducks and an easy hike awaits you just 7 miles east of Gresham, Oregon at Oxbow Regional Park. Using a National Forest Pass or paying a $5.00 day use fee affords easy access to the whitewater of the Sandy River, well marked hiking trails, picnic areas and campsites.

Riverbank restoration in process

The riverbank is under restoration because the river has undercut a wide path as it forms the oxbow curves. The exposed stumps on the shoreline have been carbon dated to 1780. At that time an eruption of Mt. Hood, a stratovolcano and now the highest mountain peak in Oregon, caused a mudflow to completely bury the forest.

The buzz of chain saws accompanied us on our “hike” until we rounded a bend and the trees muffled the sound. We learned that the Forest Service was grooming the tributary for salmon breeding by creating pools of still water with downed logs.

You only need a mild interest in spending time outdoors either walking in the forest, or hiking, or camping, or simply communing with nature to enjoy Oxbow Regional Park. But, for someone like me who has seemingly found a new lease on the outdoor life, this park is a jewel in the crown of the Mt. Hood National Forest.

NOTE:

Actually, the “duck” photo above is a family of Canadian Geese – adults and adolescents. But, you already knew that, if you’ve read this far, so there is no need to correct my “mistake”.