Yesterday we took a short drive of about five miles to visit the Coachella Valley Preserve. We were interesting in seeing the oases located in the desert there. The oases formed in areas where the San Andreas fault forces deep groundwater to the surface. Two oases are separated by about a mile of desert. The first oasis, Thousand Palms, has a parking area, small visitor center, and boardwalk trails through the palms.
The second oasis, McCallum, has a fairly large pond and is surrounded by California Fan Palm Trees.
The California Fan Palm has a very thick trunk and grows slowly to about 45 feet. Their life span is 150 to 200 years. The dead fronds hang vertically and form what is called a skirt around the trunk. This ‘skirt’ is a home and refuge for numerous birds, insects and lizards. Fruit stalks, extend beyond the leaves and bear masses of tiny white to cream colored flowers.
Today we decided to take a ride into nearby Joshua Tree National Park. We thought about skipping this visit, since we saw many Joshua Trees travelling across the Mojave Desert, but it was so close by we decided to check it out. The southern boundary of the park is only about ten miles to the north of us, but the two main entrances are on the north side, which is about a forty mile drive going around the outside of the park. The map showed a dirt road marked for four wheel travel only just to our north that appeared to go right into the center of the park. So we decided to be adventurous and see what that road was like. We turned off the main road on to a deserted but paved road called Berdoo Canyon Road and headed north. Since the road had a name how bad could it be?
The road soon turned to dirt, but it was fairly smooth, so we continued.
The road continued to be fairly smooth as we entered the canyon.
Then, the road simply disappeared, and we were driving up a dry stream bead.
There were a few places where we had to get out and find the best route. As we drove deeper into the canyon things got a bit narrow, with just enough room for the Jeep.
After about fifteen miles, we drove out of the canyon into flat desert. The road was still a bit rough, but nothing like we had encountered in the canyon.
Passing through the desert we saw many large piles of rocks. It looked like a very large dump truck had just dumped the rocks at random locations. These rock piles began underground eons ago as a result of volcanic activity. Over time, granite was pushed to the surface where weather eroded the soil around it, leaving the granite piles.
One interesting rock formation is called Jumbo Rocks. We hiked through the rocks and followed a trail looking for a formation called Skull Rock.
In a few places boulders blocked the path. Once someone moved them a bit we were able to continue hiking.
In some places the trail narrowed a bit. Most Americans wouldn’t be able to take this trail as they are too big to squeeze through the tight spots.
After about a mile we came to Skull Rock, which was pretty easy to identify.
We intended to drive into the park and just spend a little time driving around. But between the adventure of the Berdoo Canyon Road and the hiking we encountered, it turned out to be a long day. But unplanned adventures like this are just the kind of thing we like.
Tomorrow we leave Indio and the Coachella Valley headed for Bakersfield. When we had some work done on the motorhome there a few weeks ago, they broke one of our side cameras, so we’re returning there for a replacement. After that our plans are a bit unsettled. A trip to Pismo Beach may be on the horizon. More on that later . . .