Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow in Joshua Tree National Park, California

Snow in the desert? We planned to do the Lost Palm Oasis hike in Joshua Tree National Park today, but due to a very rare nine inches of snow at the southern end of the park by the Cottonwood Visitors Centre, it was recommended we not hike to Lost Palms. So we decided on the shorter three mile loop trail to Mastadon Peak. This hike is nice, starting with a paved walkway down to an oasis. If you just go this far, you will see some beautiful fan palms and yuccas. The trail continues past typical Colorado desert flora – small cacti and yuccas - and eventually forks to where you can continue onto the Lost Palms Oasis, or bear left towards Mastadon Peak. (Good hikers can do both hikes in one hike as Lost Palms Oasis is 7.2 miles and Mastadon Peak is an off-shoot of the hike.) Continuing on the Mastadon Peak trail, this is where the slight uphill climb begins, as you ascend to the peak. Once at the peak, you can see views of the Eagle Mountains and Salton Sea. Unfortunately, due to LA smog (yes, this far away – 150 miles) we could not see the Salton Sea. At this point the trail loops back to the parking lot, but due to the snow, we couldn’t follow the trail past the peak, so we turned around and went back the way we came for an overall four mile hike.

If you’re in the area, this would be a good hike. There’s some uphill elevation to the peak, but it’s not difficult at all, and you can get some very good views on clear days. We added some snowy photos of Joshua Tree ~ enjoy!

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