Joshua Tree was the next destination on our list. On October 18, 2022, we arrived at JT RV and Campground. The dirt and gravel lot comprised back-to-back full hookup sites running down the middle of the lot with shade trees. Electric and water sites lined the perimeter for tents and RVs not needing the sewer.
Joshua Tree Saloon
After setting up, it was time for a bite to eat. Joshua Tree Saloon served ribs, a variety of fried seafood, hamburgers, sandwiches, salads, tacos, and quesadillas. They also had a long list of wines and beers, on tap or in a bottle.
The hidden entrance is around the back, through the patio area. The outside bartender showed us the way. Multiple TVs keep patrons entertained while waiting for their meals, and the corrugated steel panels and antiques contributed to the rustic appeal.
Joshua Tree National Park
We didn’t plan our visit to Joshua Tree National Park on the same day we last visited the park five years earlier. It was just one of those flukes. Our blog post dated January 11, 2018, talks about our visit on October 19, 2017. It wasn’t until I was drafting this post that I realized the date matched.
We concentrated this visit on the west side of the park where the Joshua trees are more concentrated and where a few road pullouts include information panels that describe the terrain, plants, and history.
The arrangement of plants in the photo below looks like a professional landscaper had a hand in their placement. The rocks strategically piled in front of a juniper and flanked by yuccas have a balance to them.
Joshua Tree National Park gained monument status in 1936 and national park status in 1994. What is unique about this park are the two deserts that meet within the park boundaries—the Mojave Desert on the west side and the Colorado Desert on the east side. The over 800,000 acres of both high desert and low desert environments allow a diversity of plants and animals to thrive.
At one stop there was no trail, so we picked our way around boulders, juniper and creosote bushes, and avoided the beaver tail and cholla cactus, stopping every few feet to take pictures behind us so we could find our way back to the truck. Then we followed other trails nearby and here is what we saw.
Barker Dam Loop trail led us to Barker Dam and Lake. The lower portion of the dam was built by the Barker and Shay Cattle company, creating a lake from rainfall for watering their cattle. In 1949-50, the Keys family added the upper concrete layer. Although we saw a few puddles when we visited in October, apparently winter and spring are the best chance to see the lake full. Average rainfall currently is around 2–5 inches compared to 10 inches in the early 1900s.
From the Barker Dam trail, we took a spur that led to petroglyphs. Unfortunately, someone had the bright idea of outlining the drawings with paint. The paint makes them easier to see, but ruins the original art. What a shame.
Coming up next, we drive through the transition zone between the Colorado and Sonoran deserts to the south and the Mojave desert to the north. Our destination: Lake Havasu to see family and friends.