Visiting Joshua Tree during a super bloom, California

Latest visit: March 2019

The month of March was venturing out of LA month for me.

I drove to Big Bear to breathe the fresh mountain air, to the Coachella Valley to see the DesertX exhibit as well as to

visit Joshua Tree National Park during a super bloom.

Side note: If you live outside the LA bubble and have no idea what the expression ‘super bloom’ means here is National Geographic’s definition :

A super bloom is a colloquial term used to define an explosion of wildflowers that exceeds typical spring blooms. The park, which is typically bare of flowers, has come alive with vibrant greenery, poppies, primroses, and lilies.

I’ve probably been to Joshua Tree more than 15 times within the last five years. Every time I go, I discover new areas of this huge park and create memories with friends.

This time around, I’d been warned by friends that, because of the recent government shut down giving ‘free’ access to national parks, people had come to Joshua tree and vandalized, burned and destroyed multiple areas. I was very relieved that we didn’t notice any of that, probably thanks to a lot of hard work from the Rangers & local communities (thank you!).

We did notice a few things during our drive around Joshua Tree National park to see the super bloom:

  • EVERYTHING WAS SO LUSH AND GREEN. It was a general consensus that within all of our visits here, none of us had seen the mountains, Joshua trees and even the cactus so green! We also noticed a lot of little white, yellow and purple flowers.
  • CROWDS. It was also a unanimous observation that we’d never seen so many people in this park before. (it wasn’t a long weekend or a special day)
  • DISRESPECT FOR NATURE. In the end we made a joke about it because we said the following sentence so often: stop stepping on the flowerrrrss!!! We were appalled at how often we saw people walking off the trails and crushing nature along the way.

Please Please Please don’t crush the flowers to take your perfect shot. This is a magical moment. Don’t ruin it.
Don’t sit on them.
Don’t swim in them.
Don’t venture off the trails.

(You know it’s a serious topic when there’s a special hashtag created to increase awareness: #dontdoomthebloom)

Tip: We found the most impressive flowering area to be outside the park, at the south entrance (cottonwood springs road & 10). There were no real trails here so please be respectful of nature and be careful when you walk along the road. If you decide to adventure into the blossoming areas, check your every step.

A few more tips about Joshua Tree National Park, while we’re at it.

  • The standard entrance fee for a car is $25 and is good for 7 days! For motorcycle, bicycle or people walking through, it’s $12. If you plan on visiting the park more than twice within the year, the Joshua Tree Annual Pass will be worth it ($40/year). You can also get an “All National Parks” Pass (Inter-Agency) for $80/year offering you access to multiple parks. If there is staff present at the entrances, then you have to pay. If no staff is present, you can enter the park without paying. (This happened to us this time around and we were shocked that they would pass on an opportunity to gather more money, especially after the government shut down and all the money they lost and the funds they probably needed to clean up the mess)
  • You will want to bring a lot of water with you if you plan on hiking or camping. If you’re just driving through and stopping at the viewpoints, you will be okay with just your daily water intake.
  • For certain campgrounds, you can reserve ahead of time and save yourself the hassle of looking for a free spot.
  • There are multiple hikes, walks and picnic areas throughout the park, making it a fun adventure for all.
    • Easy access, paved & most scenic: Keys View
    • Fun easy walks: Cholla Cactus Garden, Cottonwood Spring (to lost Palms Oasis-for a longer walk), Hidden Valley (walk amongst tall boulders)
    • Skull Rock- Take an easy hike and explore boulder piles, desert washes, and of course the namesake Skull Rock.
    • Still on my list: Barker Dam (view a water tank built by early cattle ranchers. Watch for bighorn sheep.) & longer trails/hikes.
  • Climbing, Bouldering, Highlining, and Slacklining are also possible. Get info here.
  • The temperature can vary a lot throughout the park and the time of day. Make sure you pack layers and bring sunscreen!
  • Respect the wildlife and the flora. Walk on the trails, drive carefully and dispose of your litter in the appropriate trash cans.

I’d definitely recommend visiting Joshua Tree National Park during a super bloom! It’s spectacular!

Related posts: Exploring the Desert X exhibit