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Entries in pics of shooting stars (2)


Joshua Tree National Park - Arch Rock and Jumbo Rocks!

This past weekend, a trip to Joshua Tree National Park was in order...great weather, a new moon, and my in-laws in town to see our new baby. I have a few spots there that are quickly becoming favorites. However, this time, I wanted to see a couple of new things...mainly Arch Rock. Arch Rock is reminiscent of the larger rock arches of the more notable Arches National Park in Utah at a fraction of the size. It is located inside White Tank Campground which lies northwest of Cholla Cactus Garden. Getting there once inside the campground is quite easy but parking for non-campers is limited to a specific time window so keep an eye on the parking markers there for instructions. To find the arch, locate campsite 9 and set out on the hiking trail located just behind it. The arch will come up on the right hand side of the trail about .25 mile ahead just before a sharp left turn. Here is a photo of it taken just after sunset:

This time on our visit to Joshua Tree N.P. we bought the all park inter-agency pass since we'll be visiting Arches N.P., Canyonlands N.P., and the Grand Canyon in the next year as well. Such a great deal when you compare it to the cost of theme parks and other attractions.

We stopped at Jumbo Rocks for a while to see Skull Rock and to take in the enormous boulders that create a playground for anyone willing to hike and explore.

Running from boulder to boulder and climbing them is a lot of fun. After photographing Skull Rock and exploring for a while, this rock seemed to jump out:

We always make the drive to Keys View to take in the Coachella Valley panorama that's visible from there. It's always an amazing place to take newcomers to Joshua Tree. However, we didn't expect to see this little guy on the road in front of us as we ventured to the next site:

Gotta love the desert!

The last time we tried to make it to the Keys Ranch Tour we were told that it had sold out so we booked our tour tickets in advance this time around. The tour lasted for a little more than one hour and was really interesting. It is a walking tour aimed at educating folks about the homesteaders that lived in there, in Joshua Tree, in early in the 20th century. Much of their property remains intact and well preseved. It is now a protected area only accessible via guided tours.

We always seem to make a stop at Cholla Cactus Garden but on this day we barely made it before all light was gone so with the help of a strobe, I captured this unique cactus field with the smallest amount of twilight on the horizon behind it.

And, of course, on a new moon night, the stars in Joshua Tree are phenomenal! Here's what an hour of stargazing looks like in one image via long exposures.

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