Joshua Tree National Park: Arch Rock and After

After our sunrise visit to Cholla Garden and Ocotillo Patch, we headed back up Pinto Basin Road through Wilson Canyon, leaving the Sonoran behind and climbing into the Mohave.

We pulled into White Tank Campground, trying to make our way slowly and quietly so as not to disturb the car campers. We parked at the trailhead for Arch Rock Nature Trail, a short, .3-mile trail through a spectacular jumble of formations.


Image: Sean M. Santos

Image: Sean M. Santos

Image: Sean M. Santos

When we encountered Arch Rock, near the end of our walk, Sean scrambled up to it. I hesitated, but then followed him.

Image: Sean M. Santos

It was about quarter to eight when we pulled out of White Tank, passing people just emerging from their tents and sleep. The Twentynine Palms Visitor Center at the Oasis of Mara opened at eight, so we headed there. Since we were after some particular patches and maps and such, we were a little disappointed. The exhibitions, though, were more extensive than at the other visitor center.

Taxidermy! A Kangaroo Rat.

After leaving the visitor center, we had a choice to make: hike or drive back to Park Boulevard and check out some of the pullouts we’d skipped on our way to the sunset at Keys View the night before. Either way, we needed to begin our drive back to Orange County around noon. We opted for the hike, but first breakfast. The place in Twentynine Palms recommended in our guide had apparently gone out of business, so we decided to stop into a grocery store and pick up yogurt and donuts and such.

It was there, at Stater Bros Groceries, that we encountered this…seal(?) in the deli display. We’re not exactly certain what it was made from…

Image: Sean M. Santos

We returned to the Harmony. Sean poured us each a cup of complimentary (and much needed) coffee, and we sat out on our little terrace and had our breakfast.

Image: Sean M. Santos

Afterward, we packed our things into the trunk of the car, checked out, and headed toward the trailhead for 49 Palms Canyon.

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