Looking to plan a weekend in Joshua Tree? Check out this overview of our 2-day itinerary.
After watching sunrise at Cholla Cactus Garden, we go a little further down the road to White Tank Campground. From that lot, there is a short hike to Arch Rock — if you’re visiting Joshua Tree, you don’t want to miss this.
We can tell right from the parking lot that this is a cool area with impressive rock formations. In fact, we recognize that this is the perfect place to camp in Joshua Tree — it’s just far enough removed from the main Hidden Valley / Ryan Ranch area that it feels remote, and the nearby rocks make it look other-worldly. It reminds me of our campsite in Spitzkoppe, Namibia — I loved that place so much!
Within a 5-10 minute walk of the parking lot, we come across Arch Rock.
Fortunately at this hour, there are not many people here and we have the place mostly to ourselves. This allows for some great photo ops.
Props to Kelley for spotting this photo op — she took a shot with her iPhone, but we realized it’d be funnier with my bandaged fingers.
A few more shots from the Arch Rock loop:
This shot reminds me of the Remarkable Rocks at Kangaroo Island in Australia:
Next we hop back in the car and drive to Skull Rock (feature not trail), which is located just off the side of the road.
Can you see the face?
How about now?
We walk a little further along that trail, thinking that another attraction — Jumbo Rocks — is within walking distance (it turns out you have to drive a little further up the road to see that location so we decide to skip it). But the views here are impressive regardless.
From there, we drive a little ways further to Pine City trailhead.
I read on-line that the Pine City trail is 4.4 miles out-and-back… and in person a sign says it’s only one mile, though someone has adjusted it to read “1.9” — we track it on Kelley’s Fitbit, and I can report back that it is indeed 1.9 miles each way, or just under four miles total.
A little bit about this trail — at first glance, it appears to be relatively uninteresting. All of the trails we did yesterday featured something cool: a reflective lake, an old mine, the ruins of a burned down ranch. Pine City trail has none of that. But don’t let it fool you because this hike is just lovely. And there are almost no other people here — we see maybe three hikers total, compared to around a hundred at Barker Dam yesterday. My favorite part of this trail is purple cactus and red cactus, the only place we spot those colors in the park.
Note the snowy mountains in the distance below. Love that juxtaposition of desert and snow.
And now red cacti!
For good measure, here’s a boring green cactus:
I declare this my favorite Joshua Tree in the whole park:
We turn around when we get to this sign and go back the way we came:
And that’s it for Joshua Tree! I’ll be back tomorrow with one more post from our weekend trip — we head to Palm Springs for lunch, then do a really scenic hike just south of that area to a palm tree oasis.