It's National Parks Week, which means free admission to all National Parks. I thought it would be cool to take advantage and head out for our Friday Hike Day. I would have loved to return to Death Valley but Joshua Tree was closer.
I chose this trail, hoping there would be water, but there wasn't this time. However, this trail will lead you to an oasis and through an area known as The Wonderland of Rocks. It's very breath-taking.
Start at a well marked trailhead for the Boy Scout Trail. Follow signs for Willow Hole. The trail is well marked the farther you go but you have to pay attention. There are small brown signs with arrows.
You do not want to get lost or stranded in the desert! Bring more water than you think you need. Park maps recommend one gallon per person. My kiddos drank most of their water before we even reached our destination!
There were cooling breezes but the trail is still full sun. It can be deceiving so be sure to where sun safe clothing, maybe even long sleeves, a hat, sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen! Eventually you will reach the oasis that is Willow Hole. A gathering of Willow trees makes a refreshing and shady spot to sit and have lunch while enjoying the majestic views.
From there you can climb some rocks and explore. There was way more vegetation, greenery and bright flowers than I expected. Absolutely gorgeous and stunning rock formations and flowers in bright colors.
There are plenty of animals that call the desert their home but we caught sight of a couple desert ground squirrels. It is rattler season, please be aware of where you step, using extra cautions near shady spots found near rocks. Rattle snakes often coil near rock to stay cool and regulated their temperature.
Over all, we enjoyed this hike. Older kids will find the rock climbing and exploring fun, if given the opportunity. The park also features 'exhibits' along the main road. You can stop and read interesting facts and information about the park, environment and landscape.
The hike is moderate, often like walking across a sandy beach, which can be tiring and definitely not stroller friendly. A child front of back pack type carrier is fine-we saw a family hiking with their young children in a pack. Use caution though and make sure your young child is appropriately covered and protected from the sun's rays. Mid-day can expect glaring sun and higher temps.
We ended up getting badly sun-burned because I did not take this into account and was out of habit of applying sunscreen since winter.
Have you visited your local national park? Which one is your favorite?