#139j Joshua Tree, CA

Fleeter Log #139j
Joshua Tree National Park

Day 17 - Friday
May 1, 2009
256 miles

Needles to Joshua Tree

The first thing I see when I open my motel room door is the GS . It seems to be waiting for me to get with the program and get on the stick. It doesn't take me long to make ready to ride. I have the routine down pretty well after a few days on the road.

Take GS cover off and stuff into small stuff sack, GPS & SPOT mounted and turned on, attach tank bag, strap the duffel onto the backseat, fill Camelback with ice and water, take a pic of the motel, get a cup of coffee, checkout, enter route into the GPS as I sip my coffee, toss coffee cup into trash, take a swig of water, helmet up, and roll.

I pull out of the Days Inn parking lot in Needles, California about 8am under a sunny 68 degree sky. It quickly warms up to what I would expect, but still nice after yesterday's near triple digit heat. After about 50 miles of this...

I come to this -- Vidal Junction, California. Anyone passing through here may want to seriously consider fueling up. The opportunities are few in this part of the country. In fact this was the only such place I saw between Needles and I10 at Chiriaco Summit -- a distance of about 150 miles.
(click on any photo to enlarge)

Leaving Vidal Junction, I rode highway 62 west following along the BNSF railroad track. Along this stretch, I saw numerous rock memorials. Some were quite creative using different color rocks. Most were names, but this was one that I wasn't real sure about -- could be a nickname I suppose.

This is a desolate stretch of road. When you do see signs of civilization other than the rock memorials, it's like a glimpse of something from the Mad Max movie.

Eventually I reach I10, turn right and see more of the same view. The difference was that I move faster with other traffic and have the feel of being removed from my surroundings. The freeway has this affect on me. It's somewhat like flying low and looking down on my surroundings rather than actually being there in contact with terra firma.

After 20 miles of freeway, I finally see a place to pull off for a potty stop and to fuel up the GS. Chiriaco Summit also happens to be the location of the General Patton Memorial Museum. Even though I don't take the time to pay the $4 entry fee to go inside, I do stop long enough to appreciate the statue and memorial wall.

I find the south entrance to Joshua Tree National Park just before reaching Indio, California.

Shortly after entering the Park, I learn that the region that I've been riding through is known as the Colorado Desert. But before explorer William P. Blake named it that in 1853, it was known as La Palma de la Mano de Dios--the hollow of God's hand. Seems that someone thought that God must have dry, rough hands.

But in this dry place there can be found an oasis where Indians, cowboys, miners, and pioneers have found a lush escape from the harsh, dry heat, years before modern tourists had the luxury of reading the billboard telling what services were available at the next exit. Truckstops--the modern oasis of freeway travelers. Cottonwood Springs in the photos below.

I wouldn't want to find myself afoot out here even if it is the 'hollow of God's hand'.

The Cholla Catus Garden is home to a species of cactus sometimes called the 'jumping cactus'. They have earned this name by the way that with even from the slightest touch a joint or arm will come of the main cactus body and 'jump' onto the person walking by. I stayed clear. By the look of those barbs, I think my riding gear would only have slowed them down, but not stopped them.

Making my way north through Joshua Park, next I came to these really big granite rocks.

Guess what they call them? JUMBO ROCKS. Imagine that--such a good name. They really are BIG.

I felt like I have stumbled upon a set of the old Star Trek show. I kept thinking I might see Capt. Kirk and the Away Team around the next rock. For those of you that are familiar with the red shirt phenomena, the thought crosses my mind that I am glad I'm not wearing my red jacket.

Making my way from the low desert to the High Desert, I start seeing the namesake of the Park . . . the Joshua Trees. They aren't found in the southern half of the park. Apparently, it's too hot there.

Joshua Trees and Jumbo Rocks

See the strange formation in the sky? Not sure what that was about. Maybe the Away Team beaming back up.

The visitor center on the northwest side of the Park near the town of Joshua Park.

The visitor center on the north side of the Park near Twentynine Palms, California.

The main street of Twentynine Palms. I didn't count them, but there may be 29 palm trees along here.

Joshua Tree, California 92252

Home for the night is at the High Desert Motel in Joshua Tree.

Copyright 2009 Fleeter Logs


  1. Nice trip, I enjoyed going along. Have you started taking MSR bottles with you? Loved the pics!

  2. No MSR bottles, but I have thought about it. I had no fuel issues on this stretch since I fueled up in Needles. But I was ready to stop for fuel by the time reached Chiriaco Summit on I10.