I'm so behind with writing this last installment of our Southern California road trip over the Christmas break that I think this almost counts as a Flashback Friday post! Let's just pretend that I haven't been that lazy though ;)
Our road trip was one full of quite varied destinations. We visited the Danish inspired village of Solvang, spent Christmas by the beach in Santa Barbara, hung out in Los Angeles for a few days and then headed towards Palm Springs with a detour to Salvation Mountain, seriously the coolest desert location EVER! The final place we visited on our road trip was Joshua Tree National Park.
I had been looking forward to visiting Joshua Tree for such a long time but we were seriously unprepared for what we were met with: the cold! Sure, it was Winter after all, but in the lead up to our visit the temperature hadn't dipped much below what we're used to here in the Bay Area. And that's leggings and hoodie weather! The day that we visited Joshua Tree however, the temperature got much, much lower. In fact, in the higher parts of the park it was snowing and there were road closures. One of the park entrances was even closed due to snow. Given that we had not been expecting such cold weather we were incredibly under dressed. The warmest item of clothing any of us had was a hoodie. Kim hadn't even packed a sweater and I had no socks! Under dressed was definitely an understatement.
We entered Joshua Tree National Park at the South Entrance. Upon arrival at the visitor center we chatted with a park ranger about our best options given the cold weather and our lack of preparation for it. We had planned on doing a little hiking however it was just too cold for the kids. We had also planned on driving through the higher altitude parts of the park to the West Entrance however there were road warnings in effect there due to the snow. As much as I loved the idea of seeing a joshua tree covered in snow we decided instead to drive through the park to the North Entrance at Twenty Nine Palms. No hiking for us on this trip but there were still plenty of beautiful views from the car and our brief stops along the way.
One of our brief stops was at the Cholla Cactus Garden. Ava and I jumped out of the car for a quick look at these amazing cactus plants. The garden features a boardwalk that follows a short loop route past many of these prickly beauties. Ava was in awe of the cactus plants but terrified of getting too close to them!
Our next stop was a large rocky outcrop where Ava scrambled up the rocks for a while until the cold got to her again.
After driving through the park for quite some time we finally saw our first joshua trees! Admittedly we didn't see that many but the ones that we did come across were spectacular.
When we stopped to get a few snaps of the huge Joshua tree above Ava noticed lots of holes in the ground. Clearly they were burrows dug by some sort of creature, but just what we weren't sure. Ava was keen to try and look inside until I told her there may be tarantulas or snakes hiding in there!
When we arrived at the visitor center at the Northern Entrance Ava and Lola were sworn in as Junior Rangers. They had been completing the Junior Ranger book as we drove through the park and braved the cold to receive their special badges from a real park ranger.
After a very late lunch in Twenty Nine Palms we stopped off for a quick walk through the rocky hills at Indian Cove. Mathilde was asleep and Lola wasn't keen on venturing out into the cold so Kim stayed in the car with them while Ava and I went exploring. It's a little hard to tell the scale of the rocks but the fourth photo down is a pretty good representation. Can you spot teeny, tiny Ava? Those rocks look like they could very well be pebbles until you spot her.
Driving back to our hotel it started snowing. Not heavy, mind you, just a light but constant dusting of snow that melted not long after it hit the road.
When we woke the following morning the surrounding mountains that had been brown the day before were covered in a white coat. It was such a beautiful sight.
Seeing as it's been a while since I wrote about the rest of our trip you might want a refresher to see where else we visited. You can find posts on our other stops below: