Pedalling the Joshua Tree National Park

Nothing quite prepares you for the vast open spaces of America’s deserts.  The dry land seems to stretch on forever as does the blue sky above it.  Our huge camper-van had allowed us to escape the spaghetti highways of Los Angeles happily taking us towards a handful of America’s national parks. The bicycles were squashed in the back of the camper and the excitement of cycling again was building…

We were heading towards the Joshua Tree National Park and the roads to get there were long and empty of traffic.  Wind farms all lined neatly up in rows covered the land like a quilt.  Their blades so enormous you wouldn’t believe a simple breeze could turn them. With the hum of the engine motor the barren mountains glistened under a kaleidoscope of blue sky and the desert plains whispered dust into the air every now and again…

Catching a breeze!

Upon entering the park, rocky desert was replaced with small scrub and the bristles of hundreds of Joshua trees…. like something out of a Dr Seuss book these trees are all twisted and wonky, you can’t help but admire their sense of style.

We have arrived!

Shaped by water over time, smooth boulders clutter together.  They are round and curvy and you can see why rock climbers love this place.  As we park up for the night the bright glow of the sunset gives the boulders a light hue of orange and purple and the Joshua trees cast long spiky shadows on the desert floor.

The boulders all a glow

Our camper-van

A new morning and the chance to ride the borrowed pink cruiser bike through the park.   The sun is only just warming the earth up as I jump on the soft cushioned seat and set out with the Boyfriend on his trusty road bike.

The sky is once again a crystal blue with the road quiet of vehicles – perfect!  We pedal merrily with the sun on our backs enjoying the creative shapes of the Joshua trees.  The road dips and we free wheel for a while with a cool breeze through on our faces.

I spot small patches of cactus clumped on the edge of the road and see movement.  I stop to take a closer look and suddenly see hind legs spring up and bound off.  A rabbit runs into the distance and quickly disappears like any wildlife in this place.  Predators lurk everywhere and when I am on the ground I find myself on the constant look out for sneaky snakes.

Cactus and the pink cruiser

The scenery constantly makes us pause and we climb off our bicycles to explore the heights of the huge boulders.  As we find foot holds and clasp our hands on the fine grains of the boulders, lizards dart like bullets to escape our sudden presence finding small cracks to hide in.  The climb is worth the effort as we admire the bottle brush tops of the Joshua trees dotted below like a lolly scramble.

The pink cruiser bicycle!

The air is quiet as we continue our cycle – it seems strange yet peaceful… the road winds on and we pass beautiful picnic sites and a few small gravel roads that seem to go off into no man’s land.  Roads of mystery and wonder? If only we had mountain bikes…

Finally the cheeky sun begins to get too hot so we turn around and head back to our camper-van.  Vehicles begin to appear zipping by with their passengers looking out at us – A strange sight maybe? Me on my pink cruiser bike with the wind rushing through my hair enjoying the freedom among the hundreds of Joshua trees.

The sunset

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21 Responses to Pedalling the Joshua Tree National Park

  1. Love the lively reddish brownish color of the boulders against the fading bluish skies. Awesome photos and adventure. Can’t wait to see more of your posts!

  2. Superb photos. Those opposed to windfarms on aesthetic grounds should see that photo. Perhaps it’s nice to have some more clement weather for your riding.

  3. Congratulations! I’ve nominated your wonderful blog for the Versatile Blogger Award. I’ve enjoyed your journeys and photos. Here’s the link for more details:

  4. Jan Freeman says:

    Marvelous Sunset photos. I find the wind farms a blight on Nature. Happy cycling! 🙂

  5. RRAlexander says:

    Glad to see you got to Joshua Tree. My motorcycling group frequently tours through the park – my house is only 74 miles (119km) from the town of Joshua Tree. It is always a nice, slow ride with frequent stops, since half of us are always packing cameras. The flora varies considerably depending on time of year and recent rainfall. It is good to travel through the park without being encased by the metal and glass of an automobile which has the effect of removing one from the surrounding world.
    There are three posts on Joshua Tree National Park on my blog, Crossings (

  6. great post! I really like the last photo!
    what a great way to see a place – by bike! 🙂

  7. That cruiser is a cool piece of kit! Love the Windfarm shot, and the nice colours in the sunset shot.

  8. Hi, in case you didn’t notice: 4th position for you at the 2011 #transatlanticdiablog award. Congratulations. The full ranking here:

    See you.

  9. restlessjo says:

    Just a touch drier than Hadrian’s Wall! Beautiful photos

  10. Kristina says:

    Fantastic! And no rain this time 😀

  11. tmso says:

    Yeah, the windmill shot is great, but I also liked the pink cruiser with the cacti.

  12. Excellent photos and descriptions. I’ve traveled Death Valley which offers much of the same terrain that you have described so eloquently. Miles and miles of nothingness and, yet, there is beauty everywhere. I’m enjoying your journey.

  13. Super shots. Yes, those windmills are always good looking. I still remember when I first saw them them in Rain Man.

  14. Roberta says:

    Welcome to our part of the world! Very nice photos!

  15. Hasenschneck says:

    Lovely. I cycled down part of the San Andreas Fault near Palm Springs a couple of months ago, which was a great experience. I loved the desert, which was so different to anything I’d experienced before.

  16. tootlepedal says:

    The windmill picture is very good. You certainly get around.

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