Our family loves national parks. Well, technically I guess I should say Logan and I do, but we hope to instill the same love that we have for them to our children. With Joshua Tree National Park being just a few hours away from San Diego, I was excited to check this park off our list. So we rented an RV and headed out over the Memorial Day weekend to the Mojave Desert, the only place Joshua trees grow!
From my research, it appeared that most of the campsites were first come, first serve. And since we would be arriving early in the afternoon on a Thursday, I figured we’d beat the holiday crowds and have no problem finding a campsite. Unfortunately, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Every campsite was booked. Major fail.
On the bright side, we were able to snag our traditional pic in front of the National Park sign with nobody around! Hooray for small victories, right?
After Logan and I quietly cursed ourselves for not planning better, we visited the Joshua Tree visitor center and got our stamps added to our books! Then it was crunch time to find an RV campground nearby that still had availability. Luckily, we found a great campground close by that in my opinion, ended up being better then staying in the park because we had electrical and water hookups. We set up camp, made dinner, and hit the bed in preparation for our full day of hiking at Joshua Tree.
After breakfast the next morning, we drove back into Joshua Tree, found some trails, and started climbing!
I think Logan and I were both curious to see how long the kids would be able to hike before the complaining began, but we were both pleasantly surprised. The kids loved getting to climb on all the rocks; it was like their own personal playground! Jumbo Rocks definitely lived up to it’s name!
Skull Rock was Easton’s favorite!
Amelia’s favorite thing to do on this trip was making a ‘peace’ sign every time I took her picture. Every.Single.Time.
(I later questioned her daycare worker and learned that her neighbor lived in Japan for three years and picked up doing the ‘peace’ sign while there. Amelia sees her everyday and picked up the pose from her. 😆)
We then hopped in the truck and drove to our second hiking trail of the day.
For being in the desert, there was no shortage of pretty flowers!
After a few good hours of hiking, we headed back to the truck for lunch with a view before driving to our final hiking trail. (I also may have squeezed in a mini photoshoot of Amelia before we left this spot. Pictures to come soon!)
Our final trail did not disappoint. Hidden Valley was a one mile loop that reminded me of what things probably looked like when Jesus walked the earth. It was a great hike for the kids and we saw plenty of rock climbers and beautiful scenery.
Needless to say, the kids were exhausted and fell fast asleep on our way back to our campground.
After some naps, we hung out around the campground, rode bikes, and played with some RC cars.
Once we had somewhat recharged, we packed some bags and headed back into the park in search of the perfect sunset view for dinner.
We ended up hiking a little way up some rocks and enjoyed dinner while watching the sunset over Joshua Tree. Logan brought his jetboil and heated us up some surprisingly delicious ready-to-eat meals. They probably had enough calories in them for an entire day or two but hey, they were super convenient! The kids loved the experience and we even had a cute dinner guest!
We hiked back down before it got too dark and made our way back to our campground.
We roasted marshmallows and made some s’mores before bed. I was even able to set my tripod up and get in one shot! Hallelujah!
We ALL crashed pretty hard that night. My sleep was cut short though by my desire to photograph the Milky Way. Joshua Tree is known for being one of the best locations in the US to view the Milky Way, and since we were already here, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity!
We didn’t want to wake the kids up at 4am, so I decided to go by myself. After driving into the park and parking at a trail head, I got out of the truck and immediately started feeling my heart beat out of my chest! It was pitch dark, and dead quiet. Not the slightest cricket chirp could be heard. I realized that if a coyote were to sneak up on me, I’d be a goner… soooo not seeing anything in the sky, I ran my butt back to the truck!
I may have had a failed Milky Way viewing attempt, but I was not about to have my 4am wake-up be in vain! So I drove 30 minutes to the other side of the park to the Chollas Cactus Garden and waited for the sun to rise.
I’m glad I got to witness a sunrise at Joshua Tree and it made my long day ahead of me somewhat worth it.
I drove back to the campground to pick up the family and head back into the park for one final hike before packing up and heading home. It was a good thing too because the kids were tired and we ended up taking a wrong turn on the hike and we were all ready to be home!
Joshua Tree did not disappoint and I’m so glad we were able to see it and spend some time here. The kids loved sleeping in the camper (I can’t say the same for Logan and me) and hiking on all the rocks and trails. Hopefully I’ll get to come back and see the Milky Way or possibly see it from another great location.
I’m already looking forward to our next national park vacation. Peace out, Joshua Tree!