Our visit to Joshua Tree National Park turned out to be the coldest day of our vacation. Unfortunately, the cold and wind made it too unpleasant to be out of the car for more than a few minutes at a time, so we mostly just drove through from the Twentynine Palms entrance to the exit at Joshua Tree, taking side trips to Split Rock and Keys View. It was very quiet in the park. We saw only a few other tourists and some rock climbers. As part of a "virtual" geocache, I visited the site where Gram Parsons was cremated. I had read about this bizarre incident not long after it happened. There were no signs, but with GPS coordinates it was easy to find the location, which had some fan graffiti on the rocks. It's a pity we couldn't have spent more time hiking in the park. As with several other sites we were to visit, we only got a taste of what was there. We could easily spend much, much more time in the area.
Another day, we took the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to near the top of San Jacinto Peak (about a 6,000 foot gain in elevation). There was six inches of snow on the ground, and the paths were too icy to do much exploring, but we had a nice lunch at the Peaks Restaurant, with a view of the Coachella Valley far below. On the way back down, I snapped a picture of another tram going up.
We took a side trip to Cabazon to see the dinosaurs, which you may remember from Pee-wee's Big Adventure. The two largest ones are open to the public, and there is a fenced off area with some smaller displays. We paid our 5 dollars and went in. There were more dinosaur statues and, oddly, a statue of a knight in armour! After browsing through the attached shop, with its display of creationist literature, it dawned on me that the knight was probably supposed to be Saint George.
While in the area, we also visited Hadley Fruit Orchards, where we bought several varieties of dates and enjoyed a date banana shake.
The search for a geocache led us to the Museum Trail on a hot, sunny afternoon. The trailhead was only two blocks from our hotel. After climbing about halfway to the top on this rough and dangerous trail, we decided we had had enough. On the way back down, I took a panoramic shot of Palm Springs.
On our last day in Palm Springs, we visited Indian Canyons, which is on an Indian reservation 3 miles south of town. We hiked about a mile through Palm Canyon, the first half with a guide who told us how the Indians first came to the area, how they used the various plants, and how they lived. Again, there was much more than we could do in a day. There are many miles of trails through several canyons.
Afterwards, we went to the In-N-Out Burger (one of several good suggestions I got from scottks) for a Double-Double and chocolate shake. One of the best burgers I've ever had!
Overall, an excellent vacation. I booked it all online, and everything went off without a hitch. We didn't do much geocaching, but did manage to find one or two a day. We got to see the highlights of the area, though I could happily spend much more time there exploring the hiking trails. I expect we will go back again sometime.