January 03, 2016

Sneaking off to a former Hideout: Hidden Valley in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is a desert landscape representing the transition zone between two distinct desert ecosystems: Colorado Desert and the higher, cooler Mojave Desert, where the park's eponymous trees, Joshua trees, grow. The trees were named by Mormon settlers who saw the branches as reaching up toward heaven.

One unique section within the national park is Hidden Valley. It's fair to say that today it's barely impossible to literally sneak off to Hidden Valley because of Joshua Tree's popularity among hikers and rock climbers. However, legend has it that the rock-enclosed valley had been used as a secret hideout by cattle rustlers in the late 19th century.


The Hidden Valley area comprises a campground, picnic area and a trail to explore the former hideaway: Hidden Valley Nature Trail. It's a moderate, one-mile loop. Below is a trail map which offers all necessary details like elevation data and points of interest.


 

Apart from Hidden Valley, there are several other unmissable sights in Joshua Tree NP but you really have to get away from your car to appreciate the psychedelic rock formations, twisted Joshua trees and unlimited horizons.

Opening Hours and Permits:
The park is always open. The entrance fee is $20, covering a 7-day vehicle permit. The good news is that there's no permit required for day hiking in the backcountry. Overnight hiking, which includes camping, is also free of charge but hikers need to register at a backcountry registration board.

Climbing Lessons: Apart from hiking, Joshua Tree NP is also a rock climbing and bouldering paradise. For a day or week-end of instruction or a private guided climb, locally based Joshua Tree Rock Climbing School is a good choice.

Gear Rental: There's no gear rental as such on the location but in the nearby town of Joshua Tree, Nomad Ventures and Coyote Corner offer gear to buy. If you consider buying your gear online, we recommend the following retailers as they have a vast selection of hiking and climbing equipment:
10% Back in Reward Points at Moosejaw Free 2-Day Shipping at Backcountry.com Free Shipping On US Orders Over $35 125x125

Lodging: There's a large number of reasonable priced (chain) hotels in Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms. The Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Twentynine Pines has the best rating for accommodation near Joshua Tree National Park according to TripAdvisor.
Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Twentynine Palms

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