Desert Thanksgiving in Joshua Tree

Wednesday – We left San Francisco at 6am—before sunrise—and arrived in Joshua Tree National Park at 5pm—after sunset. We had expected the trip to take 9 hours, but with stops along the way and some traffic, it took 11. So we didn’t hold out much hope for one of Cottonwood’s first-come, first-served campsites—and yet, several were unclaimed as we circled the campground in the dark. We settled on one (#A9) that we later discovered had wide, sweeping views of the desert valley to the south. Unlike several recent cold desert-Thanksgivings, (all of which were inspired by our first trip to Joshua Tree in 2008) the weather was in the 70s during the day and the 50s at night all week—we never put the fly on our tent. For dinner we grilled sausages over a wood fire.

Our campsite at Cottonwood Campground in Joshua Tree National Park at sunset
Our campsite at sunset

The view from our campsite at Cottonwood Campground in Joshua Tree National Park at sunset
Our desert view
Justin and Stephanie with coffee mugs at Cottonwood Campground in Joshua Tree National Park
Campsite coffee

Thursday – We took La Jeep on Pinkham Canyon Road for some off-pavement fun. It was mostly a sandy drive through the desert, with one short section of rocks. We had campfire quesadillas for “Thanksgiving dinner”.

Sign at the beginning of Pinkham Canyon in Joshua Tree National Park
Sign at the beginning of Pinkham Canyon
La Jeep in profile on Pinkham Canyon in Joshua Tree National Park
La Jeep in profile
La Jeep straddling the rocky obstacle on Pinkham Canyon in Joshua Tree National Park
The rocky obstacle
The rocky obstacle on Pinkham Canyon in Joshua Tree National Park in context
The rocky obstacle, in context

Friday – We hiked from the campground to the Lost Palms Canyon, about 8 miles round-trip. It was super hot and dry. Soup for dinner.

Flowering ocotillo on the trail to the Lost Palms Canyon in Joshua Tree National Park
Flowering ocotillo
Lost Palms Canyon in Joshua Tree National Park
Lost Palms Canyon
Desert vista from just above Lost Palms Canyon in Joshua Tree National Park
Classic desert vista

Saturday – We drove the Geology Tour Road, planning to leave the park from the North, but decided on a whim to exit via Berdoo Canyon Road in the South instead. There was one gnarly obstacle deep in the canyon that took us a while to get through—in part because we stopped to help a couple in a Chevy Suburban negotiate the terrain. Afterwards they took a video of me wending my way through. That night we made it all the way Delano, north of Bakersfield, and then finished the drive home Sunday morning, arriving back in San Francisco around noon.

La Jeep posing with the 4 Wheel Drive sign on Old Dale Road in Joshua Tree National Park
La Jeep “posing” with a 4 Wheel Drive sign
Jeep's eye view somewhere along Berdoo Canyon Road in Joshua Tree National Park
“Jeep’s eye view” somewhere along Berdoo Canyon Road

Map of our Thanksgiving 2017 route through Joshua Tree National Park
Map of our route

1 Comment

Bri/Dad

Thanks for the write-up and especially the pictures. You both get out and do such amazing things together.

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