On December 30th a very rare thing happened, it snowed in Joshua Tree National Park! When I was a kid, our church pastor had a thing about Joshua Tree. I never understood it. I had never been. I didn’t even know exactly where it was. I stumbled upon Joshua tree in May of 2012 during a day trip to Salton Sea. It was pitch black that night so I took the opportunity to take some really bad star photos. I vowed that night to go back in the daylight. I took my first daytime trip in early 2013 and fell in love with this desert place with the funny looking trees. I bought a year pass and visited 2 more times that year. Whenever I go somewhere, be it the first time or the tenth, I always Google search the area to find the “not to miss” areas. During a Google search, I saw some photos of Joshua Tree under a dusting of snow. It was beautiful! It was different! It just doesn’t snow in the desert, well hardly ever. Ever since, seeing Joshua Tree in the Snow has been on my bucket list. On New Year’s Day 2015, I crossed that item right off the bucket list. It was epic!
Allow me to back up just a bit. It snowed on the 30th and I knew I wouldn’t be able to make the trip until the 1st of January. I had been watching the weather in anticipation of a rare dusting, but the snow arrived a day early. By the time I was to make the trip, I was sure that it would be gone. It had a whole day on me and it never sticks. I contemplated not going…can you believe that? I was oh, so close to staying in bed! As I hit the road in my trusty Soul with all my camera gear in tow, I was hopeful, but not expecting to actually find what I was looking for. Yet, it was a beautiful day and the rare cold snap had reached all the way down into the OC. All the foothills and distant mountains were covered in a fresh blanket of snow. As I headed through the pass towards Yucca Valley, the hills were dry. I had missed the boat!! Or so I thought. As I came down in to the valley, along the side of the road and in the parking lots… there it was SNOW! I danced in my car seat! I was giddy! It was going to happen! It was really going to happen! I was going to see snow in Joshua Tree!
There was a long line of cars waiting to get into the park, apparently my idea was not unique. I couldn’t wait to get in there and see what was left! Once inside the park, found a place to park at the side of the road. I wanted to get out of the car, smell that fresh air and touch the snow. For me, it was just magical. To see snow on the ground around those funny looking trees and covering the surrounding hills was just awesome. Check! One less item on the bucketlist! I took a couple of quick photos and went off to explore. I took a dirt road turn off towards one of the campgrounds and found an area that had quite a bit of snow on the ground and on the rocks. I’m pretty sure one of the parks “cats” had been there recently as evidenced by the tracks in the snow.
I then headed towards Barker Dam where I was sure there would be lots of snow. The trail here is pretty well shaded so there was a good deal of snow. So much so that I was unable to complete the Barker Dam loop beyond the dam itself due to ice and snow on rocks that required climbing to get past. I went back down the trail the same way I came. Funny how the same trail looks totally different when taking it from the opposite direction! Barker Dam is one of my favorite spots in JTNP, so it was really cool to see it covered in snow.
By the time I was done playing at Barker Dam, it was almost dark. My Joshua Tree adventure was done for this time. I’ll be back, that’s for sure. Maybe I’ll get lucky and will catch a rare snow again sometime. I feel so blessed to have been able to have been there for this snow. What an awesome way to start off the new year! Happy New Year everyone!
To see more photos from this story, visit my Gallery.
For more information on Joshua Tree National Park, visit the website: http://www.nps.gov/jotr