Bouldering in Joshua Tree National Park


Visiting Joshua Tree National Park is one of my most cherished traditions with my dad. We started going there when I was in high school and have gone back each year around Thanksgiving time ever since. It's something I look forward to every year and hope I can continue doing for many years to come.

I'm not usually a morning person, but on Joshua Tree day I love waking up early to get out on the road as soon as possible. We usually try to start driving before 6 a.m. (I know not early for some, but very early for me these days) Fortunately for me, my dad always drives so I can snuggle up with a blanket and enjoy the sunrise.

Once we arrive in Joshua Tree (the city, not the park) it's time for one of my favorite things ever...breakfast! We used to always, always, always go to Crossroads Cafe.  It was the most perfect spot that had it's own unique charm...mismatched tables, chairs, mugs, lots of locals and guys who you could tell were really serious about rock climbing. Sadly, it changed ownership a few years back and just isn't the same for us anymore. We're still on a quest to find our new favorite Joshua Tree breakfast spot so if you have any suggestions please let me know!

Our day once we get into the park usually goes something like this:

1.) Drive around until we find a nice tall pile of rocks.
2.) Choose the highest peak to try and boulder our way to the top.
3.) Once we've reached the top, take a nice break/nap on said peak.
4.) Make our way back down the rocks and find the car.
5.) Refuel in the car and decide where to go next.
6.) Go on a longer 3-5 mile hike.
7.) Eat lunch either in the car or while on our hike.
8.) Try to fit in one more short hike before the sun begins to set.

Taking a nap in the sun, on the top of the world is one of my favorite things

One of our favorite hikes to go on is the Wall Street Mill hike. Even though the hike is very easy and pretty much completely flat we really like it because it highlights some of the prospecting history of the area. The first time we did this hike we were surprised to find a windmill, several cars and other reminders that people used to actually live in this now very barren landscape. The hike is about 3 miles in total (unless you get disoriented and end up taking a slight detour like we did...oops). If you're interested in more details this article gives some good details about the best route to take and some of the history of the mill.  

Oh hai there!
Our last hike of the day was the Barker Dam loop.  This is an easy 1.5 mile hike that visits a small reservoir within the Wonderland of RocksThe next two photos really struck a chord with me. The first photo is of Barker Dam on one of my first visits to Joshua Tree, I'm guessing around 10 years ago or so.  I remember  we climbed onto some of the rocks next to the water and ate our lunch while watching some waterbirds swim around. The second picture is also of Barker Dam, but on our last visit. We couldn't believe how absolute parched it was! I know that the water level is supposed to go down greatly during the dry season, but it seemed unnatural that is with this dry.  This was a sad reminder of how our climate change is having a drastic effect on nature. 

Towards the end of the Barker Dam is a rock wall with some petroglyphs that were done by some of the Indian tribes who used to pass through the area. Unfortunately, the bright colors are a result of vandalism. Supposedly it was Disney who painted over them without permission for a movie!

Joshua tree is one of my favorite places to visit in California. There is something so cathartic about being in the quiet of the desert. Climbing on top of a rock and seeing the vast space around you makes you realize how small we really are in the grand scheme of things. For me it is quite humbling. If you're making a bucket list of places to visit in California add Joshua Tree to it; I promise you won't regret it!

Treasure Tromp

You Might Also Like


  1. I've driven by Joshua Tree several times but I've never really had the time to stop and explore....or I've had the dog with me so we couldn't. But it's on my list. I'm a bit of a National Parks junkie and one of my missions is to make it to all of them. These are wonderful photos! Thank you for sharing them

  2. I'll have to add Joshua Tree to my list of places to go! I love national parks and that's really not that far from where I live in San Diego, so I'll have to make a trip there soon! Great photos!

  3. These photographs are amazing! We never made it Joshua Tree National Park but I really wished we have of now! Especially after seeing these stunning shots! x

  4. Passed by Joshua Tree National Park lots of times but never actually got to the explore the area. Hopefully this year!

  5. I love Joshua Tree! Back before kids we used to go rock climbing there with friends, but with kids it's hard to get out. I can't wait to get them into rock climbing too!