Celina and I took an extra day off after our conference in Palm Springs to do some exploring. We weren’t totally sure where the day was going to take us until we were able to get a rental car. When our Uber driver dropped us off in front of Enterprise, we had no idea we’d be leaving with a sexy red convertible Camaro.
The guy behind the counter gave us an awesome deal on it that we couldn’t resist. After he handed over the keys, we couldn’t get out of the Enterprise parking lot fast enough to hit the desert roads of Joshua Tree National Forest. Exploring the desert in a convertible!? This is the stuff that dreams are made of. The gentleman that helped us was kind enough to snap a couple of photos of us in our sweet ride.
When we got to the entrance of Joshua Tree National Park, we took the obligatory sign photo. We drove about 40 miles into the park, and I can’t believe how much the landscape changed in such a short distance.
We stuck to one of the main roads that winds through the park, and along the way were signs and pullouts for certain areas to get out and explore and take photos of.
The first pullout we stopped at was the Ocotillo Patch. An Ocotillo is not actually a cactus, even though they look like they belong in the cactus family. Their long stick like branches are covered in spiny things. In the spring, summer and sometimes fall, crimson flowers will grow on them.
Our next stop was the Cholla Cactus Gardens, which were so beautiful! The Cholla Cactus is known for its barbed spines, that we realized when we came out with bits of cactus attached to our shoes and socks. And the little needles of the cactus did not want to come out! Celina and I were totally giggling as we tried to step on the other person’s attached cacti, only to get them stuck to ourselves!
Cholla Cactus Gardens
These next photos I took were at a stop where the terrain started to change from flat sandy desert and cacti, to giant rounded rocks that kind of resembled the town of Bedrock.
We saw so many rocks that seemed to take on their own life form, from a whale, to an arch to a skull.
Visiting Skull Rock made me feel like I was in the Goonies searching for One-Eyed Willie’s treasure, so I may have geeked out a little bit. 🙂
After visiting Skull Rock we wandered across the street to get close to some Joshua Trees.
Jumbo Rocks is exactly what it sounds like; a cluster of really big rocks. I don’t know if you can see him, but in the photo of me below, there was a guy that had climbed up the side of one of the rocks, and was perched quite contently. I bet his view was awesome.
Joshua Trees are pretty special because they only grow in certain areas of the U.S. with populations in western Arizona, southeastern California, southern Nevada, and southwestern Utah.
One of our last stops was a hike to the Desert Queen Mine, an old gold mining area that was first established in the early 1890’s. As one of the most successful and longest operating mines in the area, it comes with quite the rough and rowdy past.
The success of the mine caught the attention of an outlaw gang leader by the name of Jim McHaney who sent two of his men to demand the owner, a man named James, turn the mine over to them. When James refused, one of the henchmen pulled out a gun and killed James. McHaney was initially pretty successful when he got his hands on the mine, but debts to the bank from which he had borrowed a significant amount of money, caught up to him, and he ended up losing the mine. In 1917 the mine was passed on to William Keys who operated the mine up until 1961.
Celina and I walked down into the ravine where mine shafts now sit abandoned with large metal grates barring any entrance. Remnants of mining life can be seen with rusty carts and equipment sitting on the sandy earth. On our way down the ravine we passed what was once a stone structure…maybe a house, that had a rusty bed frame sitting in it.
I wish we could have done some more exploring here, but the sun was starting to set and it was getting a little chilly, so we took as many pictures as we could before hiking back to the trailhead.
Desert Queen Mine Hike
Back at the trailhead, we got some great shots of the desert sunset. The silhouettes of the cacti and the trees were just breathtaking against the blue and amber sky.
We spent the whole afternoon into the evening exploring Joshua Tree. As the sky got darker and darker, the stars became brighter and brighter, and it was awesome to sit in the open convertible and just stare at the incredible night sky.
When we arrived at Joshua tree, there were three main things we wanted to see: The Arch, Skull Rock and an abandoned gold mining area. There is so much to see and explore at Joshua Tree, we could have easily spent a week there. I’m so grateful for this past week, and for the things I have learned, for the things I have seen, and for getting to share it with some of my favorite company.
Here’s a link to a fun video compilation that Celina made on Facebook of our awesome day: