California Day 2: Chollas, Chuckwallas, & Joshua Trees


A day and a half of LA life had us craving something other than crowded streets and crazy traffic, so we drove 3 hours to Joshua Tree National Park. I was so excited for this day! We were originally not sure if we wanted to drive the 3 hours, but were so glad we did!

Joshua Tree National Park is known, for well, its Joshua trees. These spiny, twisted trees aren’t a traditional beautiful, but rather, they have a unique beauty set against fields of boulders in the desert. Here, where two the Mojave and Colorodo Deserts meet, life abounds, if you just look. It comes in the forms of chollas, chuckwallas, and many, many Joshua trees.


The day was filled hiking, exploring, and enjoying God’s Creation! The great thing about the park is anyone can do it! You can either just drive through the park via car or you can stop at designated areas to hike easy or difficult trails. We didn’t hike all the trails, but went on what interested us.


Along our hikes and drive around the park, we saw so many things. There were lots of rocks, almost as many Joshua trees, and cacti. We also saw a hare, small lizards, and giant chuckwallas. Ya’ll I thought I was looking at a Komodo dragon. I, of course, realized that was irrational, but holy cow, that was the biggest lizard I’d ever witnessed. He was enjoying his nice sun-bathing rock.


We also discovered various formations and landmarks. One, was the Ryan Ranch. There is still a pueblo structure where the family used to live. Can you imagine living here—in the middle of the desert?! Apparently, there used to be a spring, but it has since dried up. The Ryan family mined nearby.

Another of the park’s trail, Skull Rock, was a surprise. We weren’t going to stop here, but as we were passing the pull off, we caught sight of the rock formation, and just had to stop. When they named it Skull Rock, they did so aptly. No squinting required with this one. It looks like something out of a pirate movie. Just look:


We were also able to see a view of the San Andreas Fault Line. There also happened to be the cutest gray chipmunk scurrying around. Sadly, he wouldn’t let me take his photo.


Perhaps my favorite stop was the Pinto Basin and the Cholla Cactus Garden. These cacti are incredibly spiny, and they are everywhere! One girl touched it and got it stuck to her finger. I simply happened to stand on one. No worries, it didn’t go through my shoe to my foot, but did stay there for a while. For all their thorny danger, I think they are gorgeous!


After closing down the park among chollas and Joshua trees, we headed back to LA. On our way there, we stopped at Palm Springs, just to say we’d been. The chollas were much cooler.

I’m so incredibly glad we took the time to go to Joshua Tree. It was such a unique space filled with unique plants and animals. In short, we love Joshua trees.