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Joshua Tree 2010 Trip

Day 4 of 10

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Monday, March 29th
Arch Rock, Skull Rock, Barker Dam

It was another clear spring day today. Temperatures around 60-70 degrees (although it felt warmer) and not a cloud in the sky. We helped the kids finish their junior ranger booklets, then drove to the visitor center near the northern park entrance. There, one of the rangers sat down with our kids and quizzed them on their answers, gave them some advice and presented them with their badges. They are now the proud owners of junior ranger badges from Joshua Tree and Glacier National Parks. I recommend it for any elementary school-age children; we had to do almost everything for our 4-year old.

Since the kids had marked that they'd seen bighorn sheep, the ranger was curious about it, but we had to tell him that the kids meant they'd seen the sheep at Glacier, not at Joshua Tree. The ranger did say that there were bighorn sheep in Joshua Tree, as well, although we didn't see any on this trip.

After leaving the visitor center, we entered the park, then did a short hike on the Arch Rock trail.

After the hike, we drove over to nearby Skull Rock. We parked by the side of the road, then had a picnic lunch on some rocks across the road from Skull Rock. We had a great view of all the park visitors stopping and posing for pictures on Skull Rock. Some people started off on the hiking trail, as well; there's a 1.7 mile loop that includes Skull Rock and the Jumbo Rocks campground.

Skull Rock from across the road

Skull Rock


Two dikes crossing

After lunch, we walked over to Skull Rock itself. It's pretty obvious which one is Skull Rock, as there are two obvious eye sockets and a mouth (or is it a nose?). There are also nearby rocks begging to be explored, and we obliged. While climbing on some rocks, I noticed a chuckwalla lizard up on a boulder near some bushes. I spent the next 10-15 minutes following it around, taking pictures with whatever lenses I could switch to.

Skull Rock

Chuckwalla lizard

After our stop at Skull Rock, we drove over to the large trailhead parking area for Barker Dam and Wall Street Mine. We quickly decided to opt for the Barker Dam hike.

After the hike, we drove out of the park (in the opposite direction from what we'd done the previous day). We picked up some more groceries and ice, then refilled our water at the Indian Cove entrance before returning to camp. Tonight the campground was definitely sparser, as the site next to us was vacant tonight.

Unfortunately, we couldn't enjoy the increased solitude very much. The wind had picked up and started gusting at our campsite. The moon rose dramatically over the cliffs to the east, right into a thin cloud layer, just as we were preparing to eat dinner.

Moon rising over Indian Cove campground

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