From L.A. to Joshua Tree NP – hiking included!

It’s only the second day of our holiday but it feel’s like we’ve been on the road for a week already – in a positive sense! 🙂

After a very relaxed flight with Swiss Air from Stuttgart via Zürich to L.A. (OF COURSE they offer you chocolates when flying with Swiss 😉 ),

Swiss Air chocolate

we arrived in the US on thursday evening.

We picked up our rental car (a Volkswagen Jetta – what else would you expect from two Germans 😀 ) and stayed in a hotel close to the airport for the first night. The next day, we woke up in the middle of the night – bloody jet lag – and had to wait until 6:30 am to have breakfast. We left L.A. around 7:30 am and headed towards our first stop: the Desert Hill Premium Outlet! Well, why not start your holiday with an extended shopping experience, I ask you! 😀

Desert Hill Premium Outlet

When we arrived at 10 am, they had just opened the place so the Desert Outlet was… deserted. Which meant we had most of the shops all to ourselves for the first hour or so!

Deserted Desert Hill Premium Outlet

Three hours and the one or other Dollar later, we hit the road again and drove towards Twentynine Palms, close to Joshua Tree National Park. It was early afternoon when we arrived after a 1-hour drive and as we were keen to see something of the beauty of the NP, we decided to do our first hike: the trail to the 49 Palms Oasis.

This hike is 3 miles in total and leads you to an oasis in a valley. You have to climb up a hill at the beginning before descending towards the oasis.

Starting the trail towards the 49 Palms Oasis

Panorama view

Click on picture to enlarge

Another viewpoint

Still climbing

I don’t know whether it was the lack of sleep, the still very hot afternoon sun or me just being not very fit, but climbing up the first hill was really hard work. You can imagine how glad I was when we reached the top and were able to enjoy not only the view over the town of 29 Palms…

29 Palms

but also to spot the 49 Palms Oasis for the first time:

49 Palms Oasis

Descending was very easy and we found the oasis nearly empty of other tourists.

Descending to the 49 Palms Oasis

We sat down in the shade and enjoyed the view.

View from the 49 Palms Oasis

Same view, slightly different perspective

After this little break, we felt refreshed and were ready for the way back. The sun was setting which meant a little drop of temperature plus beautiful light (which did not only make the plants stand out of their surrounding).

Red cactus

White cactus

The last mile flew by and we arrived at our car with the last rays of bright daylight.

Way back from 49 Palms Oasis

We were very happy with our choice of trail for the first hike this holiday.

This morning, we got up early again in order to avoid hiking in Joshua Tree NP at noon. As it was only 8 am when we entered the park, not many other tourists were around and we had the landscape and the street all to ourselves…

Lonely street

Beautiful landscape of Joshua Tree National Park

Click on picture to enlarge

Lonely Joshua Tree

And of course, it’s also easier to spot some wildlife, when not hundreds of other people have trampled along the same track before you…

Lizzard in Joshua Tree NP

Tiny snake in Joshua Tree NP

We decided to do the mountain climbing in the morning, when the sun has not too much power. So “Ryan Mountain” was our first destination.

Ryan Mountain Trail

The way up to the mountain top is 1.5 miles long. It was nice doing this hike in the morning as it was only 70 degrees (for all Europeans: DON’T WORRY!! I am talking Fahrenheit here! 70 degrees Fahrenheit are about 21 degrees Celsius 😉 ) and no other hikers were around on our way up… Hikers! I didn’t say runners, did I?!

Jogger on his way up to Ryan Mountain

I really hope that this guy is one of the Marines that are positioned on a training area next to 29 palms, and no regular businessman… Otherwise I would feel really deranged… 😉

The way up leads you along some beautiful rocks and offers great views.

Rocks along the Ryan Mountain Trail


Another viewpoint

Climbing Ryan Mountain

But the most stunning views offers  – of course – the summit…

360 degree panorama from Ryan Mountain

Click on picture to enlarge

We took a little break, enjoyed the view and drank half of our water bottle.

Enjoying the view from Ryan Mountain

On our way back, we met a lot of other hikers so I can definitely recommend doing this trail in the morning.

As the day had just begun, we had enough time to do some more, slightly shorter trails.

Our next stop was the 0.4 miles “Cap Rock Nature Trail”.

Cap Rock Nature Trail

This is a really lovely, short path that leads you along some of these awesome, marble looking rocks that are lying around here everywhere (looks a bit like baby giants had played along with them and forgotten to clear them away after they were finished). This is an interpretative trail, so you’ll find signs explaining the flora and fauna along the track. Plus, there are also some benches where you can sit down and enjoy the stunning view of the desert.

Sitting on a bench in Joshua Tree NP

Our next stop was “Hidden Valley”. As the name points out, this valley was hidden from mankind for a long time because of a circle of rocks, that enclosed it. Due to these rocks and the number of green plants in the valley, this 1-mile loop is well worth doing.

Hidden Valley in Joshua Tree NP

Click on picture to enlarge

Inside Hidden Valley

Our last stop was “Skull Rock”. Guess where the name comes from, this time… 😉

Skull Rock

But the skull is not all that you can see in these rocks. Just let your phantasy and your imagination run wild! I for example spotted an igloo (with a palm tree in the front yard…)…

Igloo in Joshua Tree NP

… and a cute looking animal face:

Face of an animal in stone

There is also a little trail called “Skull Rock Trail” leaving from here. It’s a 1.7-mile loop that passes a campground at one point. It’s a bit sandy but quite nice to walk.

Skull Rock Trail

You only have to watch out for one passage: There is a very narrow part of the trail where you have to squeeze yourself through two rocks. So better avoid big backpacks! 😉

Narrow part of Skull Rock Trail

It was early afternoon when we came back to our hotel. We are staying in the “Best Western Gardens Hotel” in 29 Palms.

Best Western Gardens Hotel

We are quite happy with this place: The room has a good size…

Our room at Best Western Gardens Hotel in Twentynine Palms

… breakfast is included and it has a pool (!!!):

Pool at Best Western Gardens Hotel

What else can you ask for in the middle of the desert?? 😀

More Information about:

Desert Hill Premium Outlet

Joshua Tree National Park

Best Western Gardens Hotel

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