California Southwest (Mar 27th to Apr 8th, 2017)

h o m e     |     a b o u t     |     l i n k s     |     c o n t a c t     |     t r i p  r e p o r t s

Conditions: day hikes, 4x4 drives
Gear: day packs, cameras, and lots of water
Maps: too many to list
Area: Southern California
Reference: TBD
Stats: 72.77mi, 14459x' gain (for all days combined)


March 27th-29th: Travel to Mojave National Preserve (Hole in the Rock & Ring Trail, Teutonic Peak Trail)
March 30th: Mojave National Preserve (Mojave Road, Lava Beds & Cinder Cones)
March 31st: Death Valley NP
April 1st: Death Valley NP (Zabriskie Point, 20 Mule Canyon, Dante's Viewpoint, Greenwater Valley, Artist Loop, Badwater)
April 2nd: Death Valley NP (Rhyolite, Titus Canyon, Ubehebe Crater, The Racetrack)
April 3rd: Joshua Tree NP
April 4th: Joshua Tree NP (Keys View Road, 4WD Geology Tour Road & Pleasant Valley, Pinto Basin to Ocotillo Patch)
April 5th: Anzo-Borrego SP (The Slot, Hawk Canyon, Coyote Canyon, Fonts Point)
April 6th-8th: Travel back Home

mojave_np_coverTravel Days & Mojave National Preserve (Hole in the Rock & Ring Trail, Teutonic Peak Trail)
Mar 27-29, 2017

Mojave National Preserve Slideshow

This trip was supposed to happen last year but a couple of emergencies delayed the trip. Earlier this year reports of a possible repeat of last years super bloom in the area got Jen and I talking again. We quickly decided to make the trip happen this year. The plan would be essentially the same as last year. First stop would be the Mojave National Preserve, then Death Valley National Park, then Joshua Tree, and if we didn't mind a bit more driving...heading further south to Anzo-Borrego State Park.

I had thought about flying to Idaho to meet up with Jen but figured I'd be less limited on what I could take if I drove. We had enough time blocked out so the extra two days of driving that I would need to do did not seem like a problem.

Morning (Monday) arrived. Today I just needed to drive from home to Jen's place outside of Boise. It's an easy drive to the Boise. Driving over Snoqualmie Pass I was really surprised at how much snow was still on the ground. I reminded myself that this is what a normal winter looks like. I rolled into Jen's driveway in time for us to head out for dinner and drinks which would give us a chance to catch up on news. We haven't done a trip since Jen left Western WA and our last trip together was a trip to Maui in 2009!

Stats: 506 miles (Home to Eagle, ID), all driving

Tuesday morning arrived really early. We had a full day of driving ahead. Jen warned me, the section on 93 through Nevada was boring. The goal would be to make it to Pahranagat CG (in the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge) was the goal. She was right...that section of 93 through Nevada was bad. Few places to pull over, not a lot in the way of services (rest stops or more importantly...gas), monotonous terrain... We couldn't wait to get to the campground. It was first come first serve so we had our fingers crossed. When we finally rolled into the campground we say the bad news...a sign saying "full". OK...not horrible. We're in an RV so we can boondock just about anywhere. We drove back out to 93 and notices a large gravel lot on the other side of the road with one truck camper on the far side. OK we said...this is it. We pulled in and set up the camper. After dinner we crashed. Jen had done most of the driving. It was boring and that in itself is tiring.

Stats: 549 miles (Eagle ID to Pahranagat), all driving

Wednesday came, again early, and we were on the road again. The goal today was Mid Hills campground in the Mojave National Preserve. As least the driving today was more varied. Central Nevada really was the worst part of this trip. We had a bit more driving on 93 in Nevada, then we hit Vegas. I hate Vegas...it's a city where no city should exist. The traffic is horrible, the drivers worse. We continued south on I-15 then made a left onto Nipton Road (roughly 148 miles south of Vegas), then south (right) on Ivanpah Road, then another right on Morning Star Mine Road, south on Brant Cima Rd, left on Cedar Canyon Rd, right on Black Canyon Rd, and finally right on Wild Horse Canyon Rd. The campground is well signed and we didn't have any trouble finding it. We pulled into a nice spot (we both thought it was the best campsite of this trip) and set up the trailer. We'd be here for a couple of days so it was nice to find such a great spot.

As we were setting up the trailer I noticed a small pile or rocks arranged on the nearby picnic table. Inside the ring of rocks was a Lego Darth Vader. Some little one must have left him behind. I decided that Mini Darth would join us on the road trip. He found a nice comfortable place on the dashboard of the truck. We gathered out things and set off in the truck so finally see some of the first sights of this trip. After spending so many days just getting here, it was nice to finally slow down and poke around.

We first headed off to the Hole-in-the-Wall Information Center and found it closed. So we headed off to the nearby Hole-in-the-Wall campground and decided to stretch out legs doing the Rings Loop Trail. It was warm, already so the short hike would help to get used to the temps. We did the loop clockwise and right before the trail gets back to the campground it passes through Banshee Canyon and there are a couple of narrow slots that have iron rings fixed in place to aid the hikers. This short loop hike is 1.5 miles long.

Back at the car we decided to drive out to the Teutonic Peak TH to poke around. Jen had found out that Mojave NP hold more Joshua Tree the Joshua Tree NP does. Go figure. The Teutonic Peak TH is on the upper flanks of Cima Dome. According to Wikipedia, Cima Dome, which rises about 1,500 feet above the volcanic plain below, is the errosional remnant of a granite pluton and formed some 180-80 million years ago. It's huge. It's topographic rings sure looked interesting enough on the map so a drive up there seemed in order. We got to the Teutonic Peak trailhead and got out to poke around. Lots and lots of Joshua Trees as far as we could see. Some cactus looked close to blooming but nothing open yet (at least here).

Stats: 248 miles (Pahranagat to Mojave NP), 248 miles (didn't keep track of miles by foot but estimate it is less than 5 miles)
 
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mojave_rd_coverMojave National Preserve (Mojave Road, Lava Beds & Cinder Cones)
Mar 30, 2017

Mojave Road Slideshow

Today would be the first full day in the preserve and we wanted to make the most of it. Yesterday, driving down out of Mill Hills CG we could look across the preserve and see a dirt road heading eat. Turns out this is the Mojave Road (also known as Old Government Road and formerly called the Mojave Trail). A quick search of the road showed it to be a 4x4 road that stretches some 147 miles. The road enters the preserve on the east side near Piute Spring and exits the west side of the preserve near Soda Dry Lake near Zzyzx. We looked at the park make and it skirts the southern flanks of Cima Dome as it heads over to the Cinder Cones and Lava Beds. Hmm... Looked really interesting. We had the 4x$ high clearance truck so what the heck. We decided to drive the road over to the Cinder Cones area.

The start of the section of the road we took is really just a continuation of the first main road we turned off from Kelso Cima Road to get to our campsite. It's marked Cedar Canyon Road but that section is also the Mojave Road. It is dirt most of the way but just before reaching Kelso Cima Road it is paved. It returns to dirt on the west side of Kelso Cima Road and it is marked by a monument. Mini Darth of course came along for the ride.

We ran into a couple of guys in a Jeep travelling east and they said there was a water crossing beyond the cinder cones that might be problematic but assured us we'd have no problems getting to the cinder cones.

I was driving and it was a blast. It was easy driving but we did take it slow because it was just plain fun looking at the changing landscape and looking for things that were in bloom. There were lots and lots of cacti and Joshua Trees and even some blooming yuccas. A little ways in we even spotted some Mojave Mound Cactus (Claret Cup). I'd seen these in southern Utah blooming but the mounds in the Mojave Preserve were much bigger.

About half way to the cinder cones we reached a really nice looking established campsite. Looking at the map, it appears this was Marl Spring.

We continued on a what seemed like a high point in the road we say a colorful US flag flying and it was attached to what looked like an iron mailbox. I got out of the truck, we checked it out, and it was a road register. People who stopped signed in noting where they were from and some people had left behind (inside the register) essentials (batteries, water, etc). The register was a really nice surprise!

From the register, the road slowly dropped down to the cinder cones area. The closer we got the more cinder cones we could see. Just counting cones on the horizon it looked like there were about 20 of them. Jen looked it up and there are more than 30. There are long black lava fields that extend out from many of the cones. We reached the end of the section of the Mojave Road we planned to drive right at Aiken Mine Road and headed north to the "trailhead" for the lava tubes. It's a short little walk up to the opening in the tube and there are some metal steps that lead down to the bottom.

All morning dark clouds seemed to be building and just as we exited the lava tubes the wind started picking up. Our plan was to head down to the Kelso Sand Dunes but as we were driving back to the main road (Kelbaker Road) the wind had managed to kick up a pretty good dust storm. By the time we got to Kelso we had lost all cell reception and visibility was horrible. We decided to bail on the dune (at least for tonight) and try to pick them up later in the trip.

The weather forecast had called for strong winds, gusts up to 65mph. We headed back to Mid Hills and decided to hunker down for the evening. We retracted the pop-out on the trailer for the night and settled in. Turns out that all the other campers at Mid Hills, except for one RV bigger than ours, had called it quits. Except for the wind, it would be a quiet night.

We were both surprised to find that we actually had good cell reception from the campground. Since it was my nephew's 13th birthday, I tried calling. No luck...I had to leave him a message. It was also my niece's birthday AND the 7th anniversary of my bilateral total knee replacement. It was amazing to think those 7 years had passed by so quickly.

Today was pretty much an all driving day. The short little jaunt up to the lave tubes was only about .5 miles & 100' gain (round trip).

Stats: 77.54 miles by car, .55mi & 100' gain by foot
 
mojave_rd_map mojavenpmap
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furnace_creek_coverTravel Day & Death Valley NP (Death Valley NP)
Mar 31, 2017

Travel Day Slideshow

I'm up again kind of late...but it is vacation after all and there is no tent and camp stoves to deal with to get the day started.

Today is a travel day. We're leaving the Mojave NP and heading towards Death Valley NP. We head over to Kelso and briefly consider stopping in to see the Kelso Sand Dunes. We decide not to head there because Death Valley has even larger dunes. We continue up to Baker to refuel and get some lunch and basic groceries. Lunch was OK. Groceries was a big fail. There really isn't anything that even remotely resembles a grocery store in Baker. We did manage to pick up chips, yoghurt, and oatmeal though. After Baker we continued the long drive up to Death Valley with side trips into Tecopa (post office but not grocery store) and Shoshone (also no grocery store) before deciding to head up into Pahrump, NV where we finally scored and found a Safeway.

We finally rolled into Fiddler's Campground at Furnace Creek in Death Valley around 6:30pm. We set up the trailer and made some dinner. Then...a walk over to the Corkscrew Saloon at Furnace Creek for some drinks (best $40 spent on drinks in quite some time).

A check of the weather showed temps for tomorrow would be warm, low 90's. 

Stats: 212 miles (all by car)
 
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death_valley_np_coverDeath Valley NP (Zabriskie Point, 20 Mule Canyon, Dante's Viewpoint, Greenwater Valley, Artist Loop, Badwater)
Apr 1, 2017

Death Valley Slideshow

Today was a day to get up early. This was the first day with big plans in Death Valley. Jen and I were both eager to pack in as much as we could in the few days we had available in the park. First up...Zabriskie Point.

Everything I'd read about Zabriskie Point said it was either a sunrise or sunset location. Good. It fit in well as the kickoff for the day. We planned to visit the sites along Furnace Creek and Greenwater Valley. We were up before sunrise, then a quick breakfast, then the short drive up to the Zabriskie Point parking area. It's a short walk up the paved path to the viewpoint. We were among the first dozen people to arrive, many more would arrive just after us. We had plenty of time to enjoy the area and watch the colors of the nearby hills change in the early morning light. Eventually, with the sun fully up...it was time to move on.

Jen and I both realized early on in our trip planning that Death Valley would mostly be a driving tour. The park is vast, covering 5,219 square miles. By comparison, Mt Rainier NP is just under 370 square miles and Yellowstone NP is 3,468 square miles. So yes, Death Valley is big, really big. So given the size of the park the only real way to see as much as possible in a short visit was to drive it. Then there are the temps...while in the park the daytime temps were hovering around the mid 90's. It's not joke that Death Valley gets hot and the warning signs all over the place that advise against hiking after 10am were a sobering reminder of the heat.

So, after leaving Zabriskie Point we continued east on 190 to the drive (4x4 recommended) of Twenty Mule Canyon. It's a short drive but the color of the hills is amazing.

We then continued even further south on 190 and then south on Furnace Creek Wash Road. The plan was to hit Dante's View next. The last bit of the road (road becomes Dante's View Road after it heads uphill from the Greenwater valley) up to the viewpoint parking lot is steep, narrow, windy, and gives incredible views. We passed a couple of people on road bikes heading up to the viewpoint. It was pretty chilly and windy when we got there but that was no surprise since Dante's View at 5,750' is nearly 6,000' above Furnace Creek (the village is at 190' below sea level). The views go quite a ways from this point but the morning sun was casting long shadows from the viewpoint and ridge (the Amargosa Range) into the valley (Death Valley proper) far below. I wonder if the light might be better in the evening when the shadows are cast from the Panamint Range east of the valley instead. I walked a bit up towards the highpoint but just didn't think the views were going to improve so headed back to the truck so we could move on to the next location.

On the way down from the viewpoint, we made a right onto Greenwater Valley Road and hoped we'd see some later blooming wildflowers here. While we didn't have much luck with flowers (Death Valley seemed well past peak bloom) we did decide to explore back that ways for petroglyphs. We hiked back one of the old gated roads and saw a few lingering flowers, several lizards, and after a bit of searching...petroglyphs.

By now it was nearly mid day so we headed back to the trailer for lunch and a nap. Afterwards we were back in the car heading south again, this time on Badwater Road. We turned off onto the Artists Loop road for the colorful and scenic drive and then did a side trip to Devil's Golf Course. I'm not sure what I expected of the Golf Course but I round it really fascinating. I guess I thought the salty flats of Death Valley would be really flat and "soft". Instead, I found that while they do appear flat, they aren't. The ground is pretty broken and cracked and the salt as it evaporates, creates really sharp formations (as in don't fall or you will bleed).

We continued the drive down to Badwater, the lowest elevation in the U.S. at 282' below sea level, and walked a little ways out into Badwater Basin. Badwater itself if just below Dante's viewpoint and it was really strange looking uphill and seeing the sign a couple hundred feet above us making sea level.

By now it was getting to be later afternoon so we headed back to our campground at Furnace Creek and went for a swim (awesome) and then got cleaned up and had a late dinner. Then...time to plan the next day's activities!

Stats: 133 miles by car and 2.6 miles & 149' gain by foot
 
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death_valley_racetrack_coverDeath Valley NP (Rhyolite, Titus Canyon, Ubehebe Crater, The Racetrack)
Apr 2, 2017

Death Valley Slideshow

Today was going to be a long day. We knew that. There was a lot of driving but that's what it would take to see Titus Canyon and The Racetrack. It was worth it!

First up, Rhyolite, NV. Rhyolite is an old mining town outside the boundaries of Death Valley. It was worth the stop since it is so close to the entrance to Titus Canyon. To get to Rhyolite we had to drive from our campground at Furnace Creek (elev -190') and headed up Daylight Pass Road over the Amargosa Range at Daylight Pass (elev 4316') and then back down to Rhyolite. We tooled around the old ghost town. Some of the buildings are still standing. It's interesting but I can't imaging what it was like living here back in the day (1907-1908).

After leaving Rhyolite and back on the main road (374) it was a bit over 2 miles to our turnoff to singed Titus Canyon Road (elev 3400'). Titus Canyon Road cuts a path through the Amargosa Range that we head done via a paved highway to get to Rhyolite. The road starts out easy/flat. At the 6 mile mark, where the road enters the canyon, the road it has only gained about 840 feet. The next 4 miles is through a narrower canyon with a slightly steeper grade and narrower road. In this next 4 miles the road gains almost another 900'. After this 10 mile mark from 374 I was glad Jen was driving. From here on the wide canyon views disappeared and were replaced with a narrower canyon. The road narrowed and the grade steepened significantly. Titus Canyon Road is a one way road from east to west (becomes two way again at the Fall Canyon trailhead on the west side of the Amargosa Range) because the road is so narrow that it can only allow for one way traffic. The next 2 miles up to Red Pass were crazy steep, the road was exposed with tight and blind turn was incredible. The road had bits of ups and downs...half of it was heading down to a dry creek crossing (elev 4664') and the other half went steeply uphill (loose gravel) to Red Pass (elev 5250'). The road grades around Red Pass approach 15%. Yikes. Finally over Red Pass I relaxed my white knuckle grip on the seat just a bit, there was still some steep downhill as we headed down to Leadville (about 3 miles from Red Pass). We stopped at a pull off before leadville to take a look see at and old mine. I have no desire to poke around inside old mines but it is still interesting to check them out. Down at Leadville we did do some exploring. These metal shakes I hope have seen better days. I can't imagine being one of these lured out to this area in the hopes of making a fortune, only to find out it was all hype. After Leadville the road basically enters a wash. I can see why this road is NOT recommended if rain threatens. The idea of being in the wash during a flash flood was sobering. Thankfully...no rain expected today. From Leadville the road continues about another 8.5 miles until it exists the canyon at the west side of the Amargosa Range at the Fall Canyon trailhead (966'). The road though the wash/tight canyon was really interesting. Lots of colorful layers bent and uplifted at crazy angles. We got out of the car a few times to photograph the patterns in the rock, the flowers and cactus, and the occasional petroglyph. Titus Canyon Road finally meets back up with the main road (Scotty's Castle Road) at the 27 mile mark (total length of Titus Canyon Rd). We spent much more time doing this 4x4 road than expected. We're both glad we did. The Park Service says 2-3 hour but I think this is just for the driving. We spent something like 4.5 hours doing the drive and exploring the canyon. Time well spent.

Next up...Ubehebe Crater. This was an easy stop since right on the way to The Racetrack. We pulled off and walked around a bit. I think what most surprises me about this road trip, this part of southern California, is the intense volcanic history here. Mojave had the cinder cone areas. For Death Valley it is Ubehebe Crater. The place is serious cool. The visit was short, we had bigger plans for the rest of the day.

We continued the drive south on Racetrack Valley Road. Wow...this road...seriously rough. It's not a dirt road. Not even a gravel road. It's 25 miles of rocks. I was driving this second half of the day and after the first few miles of trying to take it slow(er) to reduce the vibration I realized it was going to take a while to get to the Racetrack. Best to just buckle up for the bumpy road and hit the gas. The rocky road is relentless the whole way to the Racetrack. There were a few flowers blooming along the road. The barrel cactus looked to have tissue paper on top of them but they were the dried up flowers. Darn...both of us really wanted to find blooming barrel cactus. At just over 19 miles we reached Teakettle Junction. It's a nice spot. Several 4x4 heading up Hunter Mountain Road to the Cottonwood Mtns. We kept going south, another 5+ miles, and finally...reached the Racetrack.

The Racetrack (elev about 3700') is a lot larger than I expected. It's also a lot flatter. It was already hot outside but thankfully due to the elevation and a bit of breeze, it was pleasant. We geared up (mainly backpacks with water) and headed out onto the playa. With the recent news of people going off road in the park where it was prohibited, I wasn't surprised to find old tire track that reached way out onto the playa. It's appalling the destruction tire tracks can do to the playa. Jen was on a mission to find racing rocks and she headed directly out to the south side of the playa. I took a short little tours around the Grandstand first. The Grandstand is a dark rock outcrop of quartz monzonite that distinctly stands out (both in color and elevation) from the rest of the playa. After this short detour I headed out onto the playa to look for rocks. Lots of racing tracks from moving rocks but the rocks were missing. Why people would remove the rocks as personal souvenirs is mind boggling. And yes...the rocks really do move! I really wish more people would practice Leave No Trace and leave places as they found them. Eventually, towards the south end of the playa (about 2 miles from the car), I found the moving rocks. Very cool. Lots of time spent photographing them. It was starting to get late (about 5pm) and we still had the long bumpy ride just to get off the road to the Racetrack...so it was time to leave. Back at Ubehebe Crater we made a 2nd visit and found the late light on the crater left the crater much more colorful than at mid day.

On the long drive back to Furnace Creek we made a short side trip to Stovepipe Wells. We caught the last of the colorful/gorgeous lights as the sun set just before we got back to the campground.

Stats: 254 miles by car and 4.7 miles by foot
 
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joshua_tree_travel_coverTravel to Joshua Tree NP (Joshua Tree NP)
Apr 3, 2017

Travel to Joshua Tree Slideshow

We could easily have spent another week exploring Death Valley. Alas, vacation time is limited. Time to move on to Joshua Tree and see something different.

Today would be another long day. First chores. laundry in the morning. RV dump after that. Trying to save a bit of time, we had lunch at the Fortyniner Diner at Furnace Creek. Then it was time to finally hit the road and drive even further south. The drive was boring at times but also interesting too. The terrain and types of desert plans did change. Mostly...it seemed like the further south we drove the "greener" it got. At one point along the road I saw a shape in the soft shoulder of the road....TORTOISE!!! Jen was able to pull the rig off at a wide spot and I ran back to get a couple of shots with the camera...not much considering the tortoise was hiding out inside its shell.

We knew it was along shot, but the hope was to get an RV campsite inside Joshua Tree at Jumbo Rocks. We got to the park North Entrance and saw the signs "full". Great. OK...so while it was a bit of a disappointment, it was not a deal breaker. There was lots of BLM land around and the RV was set up for dry camping. There was a bit of BLM land off Sunflower Road (slightly NE of the town of Joshua Tree) so we headed up there to check it out. We found lots of soft sand but did find a good place to park the RV for a couple of days. We'd have to save the exploration of the park for tomorrow.

Stats: 258 miles (all by car)
 
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joshua_tree_coverJoshua Tree NP (Keys View Road, 4WD Geology Tour Road & Pleasant Valley, Pinto Basin to Ocotillo Patch)
Apr 4, 2017

Joshua Tree Slideshow

Today we decided to get an early start. Up and fed before the sun came up, we headed into the park. We had one day to explore the park and wanted to make the most of it. Just after entering the park we knew we hit paydirt...flowers. There were blooming flowers everywhere. It looked like we hit Joshua Tree at peak flower bloom. It was insanely colorful.

We entered the park at about 6:30am at the west entrance and the plan was to drive the Park Boulevard with some side trips.

We got out of the car several times off the main road. There were so many places to explore. The combination of the colorful flowers with the big boulders in the park make it look like the park was one massive landscaped garden.

The first side trip was down Keys View Road (views from the far end are of Palm Springs and San Bernadino County). It was s short but scenic detour.

Next up...the 4x4 Geology Tour Road. This detour was pretty interesting. The road lead us down to Pleasant Valley with a short loop around Pleasant Valley and then returning the way we came. The colors and the flowers in Pleasant Valley were stunning. There were an insane amount of flowers blooming in the valley.

Back on the main road we headed our to Jumbo Rocks. This is where we had hoped to camp. The place we full, jammed packed with cars, campers, tents, and people in general. It would have been a gorgeous place to camp a couple of nights but we wouldn't have had the quite and isolation we had camping out on BLM land.

There was another side trip down to Pinto Basin. We stopped first at the Cholla Cactus Garden (good golly there were cholla far and wide) and then we headed down to the Ocotillo Patch. The ocotillo plants look like they belong in a Dr. Seuss book. We did some exploring and then headed back up to the main road.

We had spent so much time dawdling and photographing the flowers that it was getting late. As a close to a gorgeous day we headed over to Yucca Valley for dinner and margaritas. Back at our campsite on BLM land we pulled the lawn chairs out and watched the sky light up with color at sunset. A great end to a great day.

Stats: 132 miles (mostly by car)
 
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anza-borrego_coverAnza-Borrego SP (The Slot, Hawk Canyon, Coyote Canyon, Fonts Point)
Apr 5, 2017

Anza-Borrego Slideshow

Last night we had talked about plans for our last sight seeing day. Should we spend another day inside Joshua Tree of should we head down to Anza-Borrego SP. The superbloom reports had said that the real big bloom was happening at Anza-Borrego and not in Death Valley. We knew the area had been blooming for a white but recent reports had said there was still some color higher up in the park. So, we made the decision to head down to Anza-Borrego.

I'll admit that I wasn't impressed with the drive from Joshua Tree to Anza-Borrego. I found it urban and boring. We arrived in the park and started the hunt for color. We quickly realized that the bloom was well past peak. To say there were pockets of color was being generous. The bloom was essentially over. We had made the trip down to the park so we decided to make the most of it.

We first headed out to Palm Canyon, a shirt little walk. Some flowers, nothing much. Regardless, felt good to walk around even if it was a short walk. Then another short little walk around the Hellhole Canyon area. Still not much going on with the flowers.

We decided to head next to "The Slot". This would be a short little hike in a minor slot area within the state park. Kinda interesting. Nothing like the slots of southern Utah but still interesting. Lots and lots of ocotillo around here. Then we headed over to Hawk Canyon (4x4 road). After this little diversion we headed over to Coyote Canyon. It is a rougher 4x4 road in the park. The first part is fine...but further in, before the creek crossing, it got a bit rougher. We stopped at the creek crossing. Beyond that it just seemed just a bit too much to want to bother with.

We had been trying to time the day to catch later afternoon sun or even sunset at Font's Point. This seemed like an interesting drive. Seriously...this was not like driving a 4x4 road. It was driving a wash / dry creek bed almost all the way to the viewpoint. Up at the viewpoint we got out of the car and wandered around a bit. I managed to spot a couple of desert iguanas. Pretty cool. They are gorgeous. One skittered away and wasn't having anything to do with the photos I was trying to take. The other first huddled in the shade under some nearby scrub and did let me get somewhat close to get some photos. Font's Point is an interesting viewpoint, lots of cool looking rock down below.

After Font's Point it was time to head back to Joshua Tree. We had thought about bring the trailer down to Anzo-Borrego but decided to leave it up north. Good decision.

In hindsight, it would have been better to have skipped the side trip down to A-B. The flowers were just done. Both of us really would have enjoyed a second full day inside Joshua Tree. Even with the decision we made, no regrets. It was a great day. It does convince me though that I need to plan a return trip to Joshua Tree. I could easily spend several days to a week inside the park just hiking. We barely scratch the surface in our exploration of the park. I do need to go back...

Stats: 317 miles (mostly by car)
 
 anzaborrego_map anzaborregospmap
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Travel Days (Joshua Tree > Home via Utah)
Apr 6-8, 2017

Long driving day today (Thursday). We had two full days of travel planned just to get back to Boise. Today we slept in a bit, then made bacon and eggs for breakfast. Then...after getting the trailer all packed up and hitch up...time to hit the road and head back north.

The weather reports were indicating that there could be an issue with winds during our drive north. We did consider returning the same way we came. Instead, looking to avoid some of the weather, and add some interest to the drive, we decided to head back on I-15 through Salt Lake City. Our goal today...try to make it to around Cedar City, UT. It would be a long day. This turned out to be a good decision. The terrain though southern Utah (going through St George and right by Zion NP. Cedar Breaks NP, and Bryce Canyon NP) was definitely just what we needed. Made me ache to try to find a way to extend our trip and spend a couple of days in the area. We pulled into an RV campground (pretty darned luxurious place) in Cedar City as darkness was settling in. It was cold too (Cedar City is at elevation). We were tired, we didn't even bother to unhitch or put the stabilizers down on the trailer, made some dinner and crashed.

Stats: 484 miles (all by car)

Day two (Friday) of the long drive home. Today...just need to get to Boise. This day of driving was unremarkable except for the weather...the wind. The wind didn't let up all day and was much stronger than expected. I tried driving a bit but was getting a bit nervous. Jen graciously did most of the driving today. We pulled into Jen's place late...near dark...tired. Jen ordered pizza while I got clean up.

Stats: 609 miles (all by car)

The last day of vacation (Saturday) arrived early. I wanted to get an early start. It would be nice to get home at a decent time (late afternoon) and get the car unpacked). So...I was up early (6:30am) and Jen sent me off. Sorry to leave...this was such a great vacation with an old friend...but looking forward to getting home.

About 30 minutes outside of Boise I hit rain but the wind was strong and relentless. About 30 minutes west of Ontario, OR I saw dark clouds. By the time I was 30 minutes outside of Baker City, OR the rain had turned to snow. New accumulations up high were about 2-3 inches. When I was through this area almost two weeks ago there was no snow on the ground! The snow was steady all the way to Pendleton, OR. In the high areas just before dropping down into Pendleton there was 6" of new snow on the ground! After Pendleton the snow turned back into rain and the rain and wind continued all the way to Snoqualmie Pass where I hit one more brief flurry of snow. I pulled into the driveway about 3pm tired after three long days of driving. My arms aching from bracing the car from the strong winds.

Stats: 522 miles (all by car)
 
 long_drive_home_map
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