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.

View of Irvine Lake from Fremont Canyon Ridge

Irvine Lake from Fremont Canyon Nature Preserve

Fremont Canyon Nature Preserve

Fremont Canyon is often referred to as “the Yosemite of Orange County” due to its striking beauty and massive granite formations. It is rich in biological diversity and history. The area is also home to many rare, threatened and endangered plants and animals. The Irvine Ranch Conservancy conducts frequent scheduled docent-led hikes and also lead mountain bike rides and equestrian rides enabling nature lovers to experience the canyon’s remote wonders. Registration for docent-led programs is required due to the area’s sensitive habitat, but all programs are free. (LetsGoOutside.com).

The docent-led hike I joined on a recent Saturday morning was informative and mildly challenging. We climbed to the top of the ridge on some continuously steep hills. Our pace included many stops to learn about the flora and fauna where we learned about animal scat and animal tracks. One hiker also made a cast of mountain lion foot prints that were embedded in the creek bed from recent rains.

This panorama image was captured with an iPhone 6Plus and edited in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Learn how to

unleash the power of your iPhone

this summer at Santiago Canyon College/Community Services with Julie Diebolt Price. Here is our schedule of classes.

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”.

Hiking Barlow Wayside Park in Mt. Hood National Forest

hiking forest trail

Barlow Wayside Trail

You are about to enter a forested wonderland where everything is part of a whole – every plant, animal, tree, fish, bird, bug, and slug has its place…so, says Clackamas County and Bureau of Land Management Sandy Ridge Trail System.

The scent of the forest draws me every time I am in the Pacific Northwest. And, this little gem,

Barlow Wayside Park

that once used to be the Barlow Road, the last segment on the Oregon Trail, is my new favorite outdoor activity destination.

Hiking

on the Little Joe Loop is a very easy and enjoyable trail to navigate as are the Falls Loop and Northern Loop trails. While this park is a short way from Highway 26 on the way to Mt. Hood, it is easy to find and is well marked by road signs.
Here’s what we saw on our riparian adventure…

mushrooms on pine - hiking at Barlow Wayside Park

Mushrooms on pine nurse log

mushroom curly close - hiking at Barlow Wayside Park

Curly forest mushrooms

mushrooms on nurse log - hiking at Barlow Wayside Park

Mushrooms on nurse log

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mushrooms are the surface “fruit” that carry spores for propagation. Some mushrooms grow on organic matter (dead trees), while others in the soil are part of a larger, unseen underground fungus organism.

Nurse logs are fallen trees that become a resource of nutrient rich organic matter, water, and insects that vegetation and animals depend on.

Source:  Clackamas County

As I am not a mushroom expert, I don’t know if these are edible. If they are, one couldn’t possibly go hungry in this forest.