Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Destinations > America - USA > California
Reload this Page >

Joshua Tree NP - worth a visit?

Joshua Tree NP - worth a visit?

Old Dec 14, 14, 3:46 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: CPH
Programs: UAMP S, TK M&S E (*G), Marriott P, IHG P
Posts: 7,474
Joshua Tree NP - worth a visit?

Hi fellow FTers,

We are going to do a road trip up to the mighty 5 NP in UT (flying into LAX from Europe) and then head down to Indio CA for 3 nights before getting back to LAX to fly home. We have seen Death Valley, Yosemite and Grand Canyon. Is there any must see at Joshua NP?

TIA!
nacho is offline  
Old Dec 14, 14, 4:03 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Central California
Programs: Former UA Premex, now dirt
Posts: 6,459
What time of year?
abmj-jr is offline  
Old Dec 14, 14, 7:06 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: PSP
Programs: AA Plat4Life 3.9mm, UA, BA, Intergalactic Spacelines
Posts: 129
Indeed. If you are in Indio, go to Joshua Tree National Park. I always take the 4 wheel drive trip up through Berdoo Canyon, it quite the adventure. Since this is the "back door" entry you won't pay park fees. Just make sure you return through Berdoo Canyon or take Cottonwood Springs road back to Interstate 10.
You could also try a day trip up to Mecca Canyon and hike Ladder Canyon. It's very nice this time of year.
Git-er-dun is offline  
Old Dec 14, 14, 8:23 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: SJC/SFO
Programs: UA 1MM/*A Gold, WN A+ CP, Mar LT Tit, IHG Plat, HH Gold
Posts: 5,282
If the focus of your trip is the excellent cluster of national parks in southern Utah and northern Arizona, you should consider LAS (Las Vegas) airport instead of LAX. You'll save several hours of driving each way.

If your trip does take you near Joshua Tree, though, it's definitely worth spending at least a day in that park. Visit some of the palm oases and hike to the top of a peak or two.

Tip: consider the value of buying a National Parks Pass at the first park you enter. It's $80 and covers your entry fees for 12 months. With some of the parks now charging entry fees of up to $25 it's quite likely you'd save with this pass.
darthbimmer is offline  
Old Dec 14, 14, 8:52 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Orlando
Programs: Delta DM, SWA Styrofoam, Marriott Rew, SPG, HHonors
Posts: 135
Visit to honor the memory of Graham Parsons, who died there. U2 named an album for it...
Mrdonut is offline  
Old Dec 15, 14, 1:16 am
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: CPH
Programs: UAMP S, TK M&S E (*G), Marriott P, IHG P
Posts: 7,474
Thanks a lot for all the advice, here's some more info:

We bought a pass already, so we are all set and no worries about fees (I agree that the NP pass is a great deal if you are going to more than 3 parks).

We've booked our flight into LAX - no change allowed (we are 2 adults an 3 kids - 9, 8 and 6 years old so flight from LAX-LAS will be adding a huge cost vs. driving). We'd like to visit our friend in LA area so flying in and out of LAX is not that bad.

We'll be leaving this Sunday and will be spending Jan 1-3 in Indio. I guess the weather there won't be as cold as UT (we were originally planning on spending those days in Las Vegas but then got this through IHG's PB for $35/night in Indio).
nacho is offline  
Old Dec 16, 14, 10:50 pm
  #7  
Moderator: Luxury Hotels and FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Palo Alto, California,USA
Posts: 17,047
Time for a contrarian view.

I've taken San Berdoo canyon at least twice, admittedly only in the downhill direction. I don't think it (or any sight) in Joshua Tree comes close to matching Titus Canyon in Death Valley.

Incidentally, there is at least one other dirt road which accesses the park and will save you the entry fee. I have taken one from the north side of the park off of SR63, east of the town of Joshua Tree.

Joshua Tree is pleasant and you will see a lot of Joshua Trees (but strangely, not the largest Joshua Trees in the world, those are on a forest service road in the San Bernardino mountains). There's also some cholla in the lower desert.

If you have a 4wd vehicle and know how to use it, I would quite frankly chose some interesting parts of Anza-Borrego State Park over Joshua Tree anytime. Or parts of the East Mojave scenic region -- the cave tour, Kelso Dunes, Kelso, and Hole In the Wall, just for starters. For those parts of East Mojave you don't need 4wd. But to get to the pony express station or to see the genuine wagon train tracks still visible in the desert landscape, you do.

In short, Joshua Tree is OK (and as an extra bonus, the southern entrance was used for some scenes in the movie "Seven Psychos") but there are other parts of the California desert outside of Death Valley that I think are more interesting. Plus not only are they less crowded, you aren't always seeing those "benevolent dictatorship" no-no signs erected by the Park Service.
RichardInSF is offline  
Old Dec 29, 14, 8:05 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Los Angeles
Programs: SQ *gold / Starwood
Posts: 134
The last poster summed it up very well, and I agree. I think you will be somewhat underwhelmed by Joshua Tree NP considering the other places you'll be traveling to first. That's not necessarily a reason to skip it, just something to keep in mind.
jfh1107 is offline  
Old Jan 5, 15, 1:55 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: New Orleans, AA EXP, DL PM, SPG PLT, HH Diamond
Posts: 3,750
Recently visited Joshua Tree while staying in Palm Desert. Quite impressive. Hope the OP had a chance to visit..
aceflyer2 is offline  
Old Jan 6, 15, 4:25 pm
  #10  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: SNA
Posts: 16,734
It's a little depressing to see the advice to skip the fees.
VickiSoCal is offline  
Old Jan 9, 15, 2:21 am
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: CPH
Programs: UAMP S, TK M&S E (*G), Marriott P, IHG P
Posts: 7,474
Thanks a lot for the input. Now that we are home (fridge temperature and dark), we really missed the SoCal weather (29 degree celsius on the day we flew home).

We spent 2 days in the park - the first day we went in through cottonwood (closet to Indio where we stayed). We did a ranger walk there and it was great - the ranger was very entertaining in giving out information so our kids aren't bored. The second day we went into cholla garden, keys view and cap rock. We did a ranger walk at Turkey flat too - which was great too.

After the mighty 5 parks, JT seems different - it doesn't have the bombastic sights except the keys view, with the haze it was stunning. When you go to the mighty 5 you know what to see - Zion for the rocks, Bryce for the hoodoos, Capital Reef for the water pocket and the red rocks, Arches and Canyonlands - you know by their names.

JT is special because it's a park that you can keep coming back because there are tons of rocks there for my kids to climb. There are plenty of wilderness to discover. Mr. said the park could use better marketing because there are plenty of great things to tell visitors about.

We are so glad that we did visit the park - and we had a great time there! We'll go back when we are in the area. The kids love the Junior Ranger programme and they got their badges and a hat and a book - and it definitely had made a great impression on them.
boxo likes this.
nacho is offline  
Old Jan 9, 15, 5:51 pm
  #12  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: SNA
Posts: 16,734
We went last weekend and I swear my 13 year old had to stop at every single rock to climb on it. After three hours I was saying "That looks just like the one you just climbed!"

We went in at Cottonwood and out at Joshua Tree. Did the detour to Keys View.
VickiSoCal is offline  
Old Jan 11, 15, 7:01 pm
  #13  
Moderator: Luxury Hotels and FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Palo Alto, California,USA
Posts: 17,047
The view from Eureka Peak is at least as spectacular as Keys View (and you'll likely be the only person there) but it is only accessible by an unpaved road -- low clearance vehicles probably not recommended but it is otherwise not difficult off-pavement driving.

Again, if you liked Joshua Tree, you'll love the East Mojave Scenic region! Kids who climb Kelso Dunes and slide back down will sleep very well that evening, as but one example. And maybe they'll find the buried wagon full of well-aged whiskey that is allegedly buried beneath the dunes somewhere.
RichardInSF is offline  
Old Jun 5, 19, 1:44 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: CA
Programs: This game has *seriously* lost its luster.
Posts: 6,732
I need some advice about JTNP in the heat of August. My cousin has almost talked me out of it.

My nephew in Iowa will be out for a visit in California before he starts college third week of August. One place on his list is San Diego. We'll do that for 2-3 days, then Amtrak train/bus to Palm Springs, pick up a rental car and drive to Holiday Inn Express Twentynine Palms for 3 nights. I envision going out in the early mornings, spending the high heat of the afternoon back at the hotel room/pool, going out again for sunsets and late-night star and moon gazing, then two nights in Palm Springs before flying back to SFO.

My home airport is Monterey where the temps are a sunny 70-ish with afternoon/evening fog, similar to San Francisco. The 100+ degree high dry desert heat might be too unbearable, but if this is our chance to go, I want to go. Am I crazy for considering his? Should I look for alternative destination(s) to add onto San Diego? Also, Amtrak has a 2-for-1 roomette/bedroom sale on this week, so somewhere on the Coast Starlight route or the California Zephyr are options.
boxo is offline  
Old Jun 5, 19, 11:33 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 28
Originally Posted by boxo View Post
I need some advice about JTNP in the heat of August. My cousin has almost talked me out of it.

My nephew in Iowa will be out for a visit in California before he starts college third week of August. One place on his list is San Diego. We'll do that for 2-3 days, then Amtrak train/bus to Palm Springs, pick up a rental car and drive to Holiday Inn Express Twentynine Palms for 3 nights. I envision going out in the early mornings, spending the high heat of the afternoon back at the hotel room/pool, going out again for sunsets and late-night star and moon gazing, then two nights in Palm Springs before flying back to SFO.

My home airport is Monterey where the temps are a sunny 70-ish with afternoon/evening fog, similar to San Francisco. The 100+ degree high dry desert heat might be too unbearable, but if this is our chance to go, I want to go. Am I crazy for considering his? Should I look for alternative destination(s) to add onto San Diego? Also, Amtrak has a 2-for-1 roomette/bedroom sale on this week, so somewhere on the Coast Starlight route or the California Zephyr are options.
While it's not everyone's cup of tea, I love visiting JT in the heat of summer. Hard to explain but there's something electric about the dry summer heat and it's also far less crowded which is nice. I think your plan is sound and it's what I would do. I don't particularly like Twentynine Palms, but the hotels there are closer than hotels in Yucca Valley. We liked to rent an airbnb with a pool in the town of Joshua Tree near the west entrance ...for afternoons and late night dips. Just be prepared that it will likely be 105-110 during the day. Keep hydrated. Carry an exceptional amount of water. Check out Pie for the People in Joshua Tree town for some very tasty pizza.

As for travel, personally I would skip the train/bus and just rent the car in San Diego and drive. Taking the scenic route, it's a really pretty drive through the mountains that dumps you out near Palm Desert. I can't say for sure but I don't think there's an especially fast or convenient route by train/bus.

Last edited by dancefreak; Jun 5, 19 at 11:40 pm
dancefreak is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread