Joshua Tree National Park


With the sun quickly setting, my time at Joshua Tree was limited.  I thought Keys View sounded promising for a good sunset, so I headed in that direction, stopping first at the Split Rock trailhead.

I assume this is the rock for which the Split Rock trailhead is named.

I was surprised that Joshua Tree National Park offered much more than just trees.  The rock formations are incredible, and could have provided an almost endless number of subjects to photograph.

On the road to Keys View, you’ll pass a few interesting side attractions, including one that doesn’t require any hiking at all.  Skull Rock is right by the side of the road.

At the end of the road is Keys View.  It’s an excellent place to watch the sun set, as you’ll see on the next page.  From the viewpoint, you’ll be overlooking the San Andreas Fault, and you should be able to see Palm Springs in a distant valley to the west.  You can also look to the south, at the vast emptiness you’ll be driving through in just a little while.

Joshua Trees, silhouetted by the sinking sun at Keys View.

After watching the sun set, I headed toward the park’s southern exit, which connects with Interstate 10.   The forty-some-odd mile trip from the center of the park to the exit has to be the longest road I’ve ever traveled.  It was completely dark, unbelievably dark.  The only light was from the moon, and from the taillights of a car at least a mile in front of me.  The road was too curvy and narrow to drive fast, but the surroundings were too spooky to drive slow.  On top of all of this, the radio antenna on my rental car was broken, so I had no music, no talk.  Just the sound of the engine and the thoughts in my head.

If you’re following the same path, be prepared.  The most welcome sight you’ll ever see is the stream of headlights traveling down I-10.

Even after you reach I-10, you still won’t find a gas station, or many other services, for miles.  The nearest full-service town as you head east is Blythe, on the Arizona border, which is where I spent the night.

Note: This trip was first published in 2005.  I spent more time in this area during the Superbloom Trip of 2016.

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