Joshua Tree is a desert oasis.
The more I look back on these pictures and think of driving through the park I’m reminded of the odd and stunning beauty that this patch of desert holds. When Beth and I were looking at all of the scenery I found myself repeating “this looks like another planet, or a movie set”. Being able to see a landscape that I’ve never seen in real life before was completely marvelous. One of my favorite things about visiting national parks is hitting up the history behind it and learning how they came about, what makes them national park worthy and learning more about the history behind it. The Joshua Tree National Park is actually two desert ecosystems meeting in the middle (WWHHATTT?!?!). The Mojave and the Colorado dessert merge within this park and they bring two very different landscapes, plants, and animals along with it; and trust me you notice a difference between the two park entrances! I actually learned on this trip that the Joshua Tree name came from the mormon immigrants living in the area who thought the tree resembled Joshua; I found it super interesting that they felt an individuals appearance strongly resembled this tree. You can read more about what a Joshua Tree is, it’s purpose, and the history here.
A few tips to remember if you’re planning a trip to Joshua Tree:
1. This is not a pet friendly place. With all of the cactus, wildlife, and dangers your pet could be seriously injured or injure something else.
2. BRING LOTS OF WATER. Especially if you are going in the warmer months as the park averages only 25% humidity. You can get dehydrated easily and there are not many places in the park (if any) to stop and buy food and drink.
3. Do NOT feed the wildlife. Keep the wildlife wild.
4. There is so much to explore, if you’re a hiker, bird watcher, star gazer – this will be such a joy for you! Make sure you plan out the places you want to see as the park is vast and make it happen!
This entrance is further north (obviously) and is definitely more desert when you enter. There was a small visitors center off to the right of the road before you enter the park but it was closed when we went in (it was around 5-530PM). There is not much near this area other than the visitors center so you’ll want to check times to see when it’s open for that last minute bathroom break and to get any maps you may require.
This is the main entrance to the park. There is a visitors center with gift items and hiking trails, and rangers to speak to about the park. It’s in the center of downtown Joshua Tree so it’s the best place to grab some food/drink/restrooms before heading into the park itself. Since this is the more popular entrance it can get super crowded and backed up. When we went (during the off season and on a week day) there was a small little line of cars and since I am a National Park Pass Holder we were able to just hang up the pass and go into the pass holder line and get into the park more quickly.
Now a quick little blurb on Pioneertown.
This was actually recommended to us by our Airbnb Hosts to check out. This is probably one of the coolest hidden gems in the desert area! It’s an Old West Town built in the 1940s as a movie set that filmed more than 50 films and tv shows during the 1940s and 1950s! Now it’s home to some local shops, a restaurant, and it looks like the do some live shows. When Beth and I went there was only the pottery store open but I think that’s because it wasn’t a weekend and nothing was really planned; I imagine it’s a lot more busy and lively on a weekend.
We woke up on a misty Tuesday morning to start our drive into Sequoia National Park.
Since we were only spending a day in the park we knew we wanted to hit up the Giant Forest & the General Sherman Tree (that post is coming soon); everything else was up for exploration and fun! The night before we actually were able to spend about an hour in the park before sunset and we were told upon entering that we could only go as far as Hospital Rock since afterwards we would need snow/ice chains for our tires. They gave us a map of the park, a bulletin full of places to see, and then a list of places we could go rent chains for our vehicle. The next morning we ended up stopping at the Chevron station and rented tires for Eddie’s truck ($100 deposit and you get $60 back when you return the chains) and head on to enter the park. We didn’t think to check the current condition portion of the website before arriving the day before which would have told us if we needed chains, YES EVEN IN MARCH! If you are planning a trip to the park be aware that certain things are closed during winter seasons and plan accordingly.
Maybe most people don’t know this but if you are active duty military (and their dependents) you can get a FREE yearly pass for ALL National Parks/forest. Eddie and I have gotten passes over the last two years and it has been so helpful for all of the trips (Acadia, The Grand Canyon) we’ve gone on independently and together – they actually have a little FAQ section that goes over what all the pass covers.
Giant Forest Museum
We stopped in here to read more about the history of the park, the giant sequoias, an the environment in which they thrive. I literally wanted to buy a sweatshirt, hat, ornament, etc but settled for this gorgeous patch and enamel pin to remind me of our time there. We also picked up the “Travel Stamps: U.S. National Park Series Album & Guide” book to start collecting our National Park stamps as it’s one of our marriage goals to hit all the National Parks!
The Giant Forest
To say I was overwhelmed with awe would quite possibly be an understatement.
This place was magical on a whole other level – then add in the snow, it was like fairies were going to bust out of the trees and swarm around us. With the chance for rain/snow later in the day and it still being winter conditions up in the park the amount of people was minimal; which was perfectly ideal for Eddie and I. There were many times where it was just the two of us being able to soak in all the beauty together without another person walking by so this was like a dream come true.
Standing next to these monstrous trees completely humbled me. I was so small and young in comparison to these magnificent trees that all I could do was stare at them as my wonder and curiosity grew. It reminded me how precious, short, and remarkable our human lives are. It challenged me to talk with Jesus and have that in-depth where am I in life conversation. It challenged me to look at my husband and see where I could be praying for him, serving, and strengthening our marriage. This forest, these trees stirred up a lot of heart stuff in a way I wasn’t fully expecting; and yet I’m so thankful they did.
I’m quickly becoming a lover of everything dealing with The National Parks.
Eddie & I were able to visit Acadia National Park last year and it was breath taking and in that moment I knew I wanted to see more, do more, and explore more.
When Maria & I were figuring out our stops for the cross country road trip we both decided that visiting the Grand Canyon was a non-negotiable. Like most who hadn’t visited the canyon I poured over images and my mind filled with wonder that something so vast and detailed was formed over so many years and within our own borders. We were able to make the drive up to Williams Arizona and stayed at the La Quinta there since we had Tobi and needed a safe place to keep him and rest for the night. After unloading the car we got back on the road and made the hour drive to the south entrance of the canyon where we showed my National Park Pass and then hit the road up to the crest. With it being the winter season and us getting there after lunch time the crowds were minimal and we were able to really soak everything in.
I think we ended up standing on the edge for a solid hour just staring out at all of the vastness that is the Grand Canyon.
It really is Grand.
We then took a small stroll to see a few different angles before hoping back in the car and heading back to the hotel.
I do wish we had been able to have more time to hike and explore and really make a trip out of it but knowing we were getting back on the road early the next day made it impossible to plan out anything more than just sitting and staring at the majesty of it all. Awesome enough, Eddie & I only live 8 hours away so making a weekend trip back isn’t out of the question!
To be honest as I sat at the foot of the Canyon and absorbed the details I was quickly made aware of how small I am.
Later that night I found myself reflecting on life and the value we bring to it; the ability we have to make waves and spur movements and change lives. This national monument is one of the most stunning things I’ve ever seen; it’s vast and intrinsic and full of wonder and yet there it stands. Yes it has the ability to make an impact on a life, and it will change and erode slowly over time yet people flock to see it, to marvel at it, and to cross it off of a bucket list. I wonder what my life would look like if I put as much enthusiasm as I had to see the Grand Canyon into my relationships with others, into my business, into my marriage, into my family, into…everything. I can only imagine the change that would ripple out and turn into a whole new current.
Where we stayed: La Quinta Inn & Suites – Williams, Arizona (about one hour away from the south entrance to the canyon)
Outfit Details: My sweatshirt% / Leggings / Hiking shoes (similar) / Sandals% / Headband
Time of Year: January – This made for a chill in the air and lots of wind! There was till snow on parts of the canyon which we weren’t really expecting. So if you’re planning to visit during this time make sure your bring layers and the right kind of footwear!
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I’m really excited to be sharing todays post.
The next few posts that will be geared towards our trip to Acadia will be all about the gorgeous hikes we took; and one of the first hikes we did was the Jordan Pond Loop. When researching all the different trails to hike I knew that this location and the trail itself was one that we didn’t want to miss. I stumbled across this guys website, Joe’s Guide To Acadia National Park, and it was full of such great information. He gave each trail a scale of how easy or challenging the hike was, some details to not forget, and helped to separate the hikes per each section of Acadia.
The hike itself was really easy, there were a few “more challenging” parts that required you to kind of walk over high sets of rocks, but it wasn’t hard. It would probably be a little more challenging for people needing to use a cane, otherwise you’d be A-OK. It was a longer hike, even though the mileage was only 3.5 miles it still took about 1-2 hours with the turns, different terrains, and stopping to look at all the beautiful things and take pictures. Out of all of the hikes that we did; this one was probably my favorite. It was just really, really, REALLY pretty.
Eddie and I stuffed my fanny pack with our phones, snacks, and some of my essential oils since I wasn’t feeling 100% and went on our merry way. Let me also just say that this fanny pack is THE BEST THING EVER for hiking; we bought it while in Bar Harbor because I didn’t feel like carrying my purse all the time and I am in love! I also may have begged eddie to wear his matching shirt with me – he said he felt like a goober but I didn’t even care; matching husband and wife for the win! I also used my essential oil necklace to help reduce some of my headache / sleepiness. This necklace seriously is one of my new favorites! I can just drop some new oils on the beads and they will hold the smell for at least 2 full days (from what I noticed) and help with aromatherapy; it was truly a life saver when I wasn’t feeling my best (and it is BEAUTIFUL).
Needless to say this was the best way to start our vacation while in Acadia.
I would love to go back and do this hike again in the fall – I can only imagine how even more gorgeous all of the changing leaves would make the area.
Jordan Pond at Acadia National Park
Between The Pines Tee c/o
Between The Pines Hoodie c/o
Lava Bead Essential Oil Necklace c/o
My workout pants (similar)
Merrell Hiking Shoes (similar)