This past Saturday, I ventured on a trip to Joshua Tree with a group of friends. We kicked off the day around the afternoon and planned on staying until dark to see the infamous stars I’ve heard so much about. There are lots to do out at Joshua Tree, from backpacking to rock climbing, it’s best to map out the areas you want to visit. There are short hikes and long hikes, so prepare accordingly. The park is vast and offers plenty of opportunity for the explorers out there…
Warning: boredom is out of the vocabulary.
The trip from Los Angeles was about 2 1/2 hours with luckily little traffic but heavy winds as we headed out east. You’ll know you’re getting close to Joshua Tree when you start to see parts of the city strip away and turn into pretty patches of desert. Roll down the windows and feel the cool desert breeze!
There is an entrance fee of $25 per car with a pass good up for seven days. As we drove into the park, there were many spots you could stop by and explore by foot. We stopped by a scenic area just a couple minutes into the park to explore its variety of nature. It was the perfect opportunity to photograph the landscape of infinite trees and plants.
We first stopped at an area called Arch Rock, you’ll find this spot starting at White Tank Campground. This is a short hike with a 0.5 mile loop to get to the rocks, an easy hike for those who want to enjoy a simple stroll. This is a beautiful area where you’ll see lots of natural formations and unique shapes of rocks, fun for climbing and taking pictures! If you’re timid of heights like me, Arch Rock is the perfect place to overcome those fears…I promise you the views are worth the climb. 🙂
Jumbo Rocks was my favorite stop. This was indeed a popular campground with a short walk to tall and spread out rocks. The magic of the golden hour lighting made this spot even more magnificent, hitting all the rocks at the right parts and texture. I was envious of people I saw camping in this area because of how beautiful and serene everything felt. I definitely plan to camp out at Jumbo Rocks campground next time I visit Joshua Tree.
Cholla Cactus Garden
We saved Cholla Cactus Garden towards the end when it was nearing dark. The fields were covered in Cholla cactus of all sizes and shapes. As a plant and cactus lover, this was my cactus heaven! Be aware if you’re a klutz like me, and watch your step while walking through the fields…or else you might be taking home some cacti spines as a souvenir. As I walked through the fields, the colors of the sky looked surreal surrounding the millions of cacti.
Look closely at some of the plants and you will see pretty yellow blooms during the springtime.
We waited about an hour after visiting the Cactus Garden for the day to get dark. The grand finale of stars was finally here! I prepped for these night shots by setting my camera exposure on the right settings, about a shutter speed of 20 seconds long , 3.5 aperture with 3200 ISO. If you plan on photographing the night sky, have in mind the type of shots you hope to capture in different areas of Joshua Tree and don’t forget your tripod! If you’re lucky, you’ll see some shooting stars along the way. I got lost in the luminosity of the stars and forgot that I was still in California.
The best part of Joshua Tree is how unique each impression is. Everyone experiences each part of the park differently through the various times of the day, weather, and seasons. I wondered about the cactus garden in the daylight or how the outlook of Jumbo Rocks looked at night…the possibilities are endless. I enjoyed Joshua Tree and will definitely be back for the areas I didn’t have enough time to explore. I recommend planning out an entire weekend at Joshua Tree if you’re up for an adventure!
Author: Jackie Ng