Joshua Tree National Park’s Fourtynine Palms Oasis Trail

30 Jan
2012
Posted in: California, Hikes
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Many of Joshua Tree National Park’s hiking trails are currently off-limits because the Cottonwood Springs area suffered significant flood damage in mid-September. The north end of the park really caters to rock climbers (grudgingly) — the southern area is much more hiker-friendly … when it’s open. So we didn’t get a chance to hike to the Lost Palms Oasis or Mastodon Peak. Bummer. The flooding supposedly washed a bunch of old mine tailings into the area and contaminated the entire area with heavy metals. Double bummer.

Luckily, the trail to the Fortynine Palms Oasis at the north end of the park was open. Unluckily, we chose the windiest day of the year to take the stroll. Gusts hit 40+ MPH supposedly. In Palm Springs, it was a mess. We steeled ourselves with mediocre Mexican food at Edchadas in Twentynine Palms before heading out.

The trail is 1.5 miles long, a 3 mile round-trip. The route climbs 300 feet over a mountain pass where the winds were amazingly fierce. I was worried Lisa would blow away. Fires are forbidden. One got out of control inside the oasis recently and many of the palms are blackened. Inconceivably, when we arrived at the oasis, we overheard a conversation between high-schoolers about trying to start a bonfire. Annoying. (Parents: consider eating your young.)

Lisa got a bunch of great pictures. We highly recommend doing this trail — especially if it’s less windy! Honestly, we’d been a few days between showers at that point, so maybe the wind was a blessing in disguise.

Our first view of the oasis (see dark green spot in upper-center).

Our first view of the oasis (see dark green spot in upper-center).

Some of the fire-blackened palms.

Some of the fire-blackened palms.

It really is an unexpected sight.

It really is an unexpected sight.

Dust storm

By the time we returned, a pretty good dust storm had blown up in the valley. This is looking north towards a mountain range and a military base. See them?

The wind was creating some cool cloud formations, like this rectangular portal.

The wind was creating some cool cloud formations, like this rectangular portal.