Winter Journey – Joshua Tree Belle – February 2017

Last sunrise at BLM north of Joshua Tree

Wednesday February 22nd – We pack up this morning, as we are heading back to Joshua Tree NP; driving south through the park it is the shortest route to get us back to Tucson. Looking at the calendar and the atlas, we make travel plans so as to camp in the park and have a day for exploration. We find out at the entrance gate that finding a spot could be an issue, as several campgrounds are small with a 16’ limit. Luckily, the first campground on our route is Belle with an available campsite even though the sign says FULL. We pull into the spot,

Campsite at Belle Campground in Joshua Tree NP

but before we set up, we walk around the campground. Many of the sites are quite close together, so we are more than happy with our lucky find.

After we get set up, I walk out through the Joshua trees to the hills, which are giant boulder piles.

Joshua tree forest
Joshua tree with blossoms coming on
Rock hills at Belle Campground


I find a nifty little arch, so go back to our campsite to get Clifford so he can see it, also.

A nifty arch in the rocks

After looking at the arch, we walk to another rock hill and find a vantage point from which to watch the setting sun.

Sunset coming soon
Clifford finds a vantage point to watch the sunset
The setting of the sun at Joshua Tree NP

Because of the wind, we go inside once we get back to camp and do our usual evening things, grateful for the opportunity to be here.

Thursday February 23rd – Super windy and cold, but beautiful blue sky this morning.

Joshua tree blossoms

Today was meant to be our exploration day, but it is so cold and windy that we don’t leave until early afternoon. We plan to just drive around, but not do any hiking. However, when we get to the Skull Rock turnout, the sun has warmed the air enough that we do go for a hike.

Hiking near Skull Rock
Hiking near Skull Rock in Joshua Tree NP

Then we drive through Jumbo Rocks Campground, as it is the largest campground in the northern part of the park. The landscape is interesting, but the campsites are small and really really close together – designed for friendly people camping in tents, I guess.

At Hidden Valley, we find a pretty spot in the picnic area, but it is so windy that we end up sitting in the car to eat.

Picnic at Hidden Valley – look how bundled up Clifford is

Then on to the trailhead and do the mile hike in Hidden Valley, which is a nearly-hidden lush desert valley where cattle rustlers used to hide their stolen cattle.

Hidden Valley hike in Joshua Tree NP
Rock formations in Hidden Valley

The tall hills that surround this valley are big piles of boulders, for the most part, and we can see where a creek sometimes runs through the valley bottom. We are protected from the wind here and warmed by the sun. What a great hike!

Hiking in Hidden Valley with Clifford – notice the small figure in the center of the photo
Hidden Valley formations and vegetation
Hidden Valley formations and vegetation
Hidden Valley formations and vegetation
Hidden Valley formations and vegetation
Hidden Valley formations and vegetation
Blue sky at Hidden Valley

Back at camp we have dinner and do our usual evening activities.

Joshua tree at the campsite at end of day
Prickly pear near the end of day

Even though we are leaving in the morning, there isn’t really much to pack up this evening, as it was such a short stay. It is so pretty and unique here, I would love to stay longer, but Tucson is waiting.

2 thoughts on “Winter Journey – Joshua Tree Belle – February 2017”

  1. Joshua Tree NP is great! Colorado Desert (subset of Sonoran Desert) in the southern part. Mojave Desert in the northern part. Saguaros are typical of Sonoran desert. Joshua trees are found in Mojave desert. I loved both parts of it. This blog was in the northern section as you can see from the Joshua trees.

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