Joshua Tree National Park
NA® ®
Wild Recovery
San Jose, California
March 12 - 14, 2010 - Winter Retreat
Joshua Tree National Park
San Bernardino County
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The Place

Joshua Tree National Park
March 12 - 14, 2010
Winter Retreat


Desert life is varied yet vulnerable because the desert is hot and dry. Sudden torrents of rain shape life and landscape, yet rain is sparse and sporadic. Streambeds are dry. Water holes are few. In a desert’s mosaic of living systems each piece has its slightly different function but many depend on the entire mosaic for survival.

There are two types of desert within Joshua Tree National Park: the Mojave and the Colorado. In fact, some ecologists say that the park is a transition zone between the two. As you go from Twentynine Palms to the South Entrance, you begin to see Joshua trees at the 3,000-foot elevation level. Joshua trees indicate the Mojave Desert.

View of Hill

The park encompasses some of the most interesting geologic displays in all California deserts. Exposed granite monoliths and rugged, twisted-rock mountains testify to powerful Earth forces. Washes, playas, alluvial fans, bajadas, pediments, desert varnish, plutons and active faults create complex landscapes of immense beauty.

Picture of Cactus

The life force is patient here. Desert plants, looking all but dead, lie dormant in wait for rainfall to trigger their growth. At the edges of daylight and under night stars desert animals come to life. Waiting out daytime heat, they run, hop, crawl and burrow to the slow rhythm of the desert. Under bright sun and blue sky, the night creatures seek shelter, leaving bighorn sheep and golden eagles to add an air of unfettered majesty to this land.

Rocky Hill With Palm Trees

Where to Meet:

We will be camping in the Northern part of the park in the Indian Cove Campground off Indian Cove Rd from Twentynine Palms Highway/Joshua Tree. Our campsites include #4, 90-92, 95, 45-47. Remember that all National Parks have a $20 park entrance fee that is separate from the camping fees collected for reservations.

Interesting Rock Formation

Walking the Walk

Since we are travelling far for this retreat, we have scheduled 3 hikes for your pleasure. Sunday’s hike will be optional and is planned to be set off on after we have packed up the campsite but is touted to me a "Not To Miss" hike in publications. Friday’s hike will be scheduled for 2pm(ish) and Saturday’s hike should be the normal 10am time.

Sneakeye Spring/Indian Cove Nature Trail - Miles: 1 - Level 2 - Elevation: 200’ - Hours: 2-3

This relatively challenging hike is just off our campsites. Though it is only a mile, it will prove to be challenging due to strenuous boulder scrambling on part of the trail. This short but challenging hike takes us from a busy region of the park to an isolated high valley with pockets of greenery and oak trees, although the spring is no longer evident. This is a journey to an untrammeled wilderness. Due to its difficult entrance through boulder filled gorge, this hike is appealing to the adventuresome (us)!

Lost Horse Mine Loop Trail – Level 4 – Miles: 7 – Elevation: 1000’ – Hours: 5-6

The Lost Horse Mine and Mountain Trail is accessible from Quail Springs Road via Keys View Road. To get there we will need to drive out of our campground and head left the way we came in the day before on Twentynine Palms Highway. Take a left onto Park Blvd to Key View Road for about 2.6 miles to the signed Lost Horse Mine Road. Turn left (southeast) and drive to the Lost Horse Mine parking area/trailhead, which is at the end of this 1.1 mile dirt road. Those who hike this trail can explore and interpret the ten-stamp mill and cabin ruins. An unmaintained trail leads in a loop back to the trailhead but is suggested only for those skilled in backcountry navigation. We will not take the loop trail but instead head out to the mine and to the Peak at 5,313 feet. The hike starts off with a moderate climb to a large mining complex. Along the way, there are several side trips to high panoramic points. The clear and wide but somewhat rocky trail climbs moderately for a mile across high desert swales of juniper, yucca, a few stunted Joshua trees and bear grass. At mile 2 the trail reaches the lower end of the Lost Horse Mine. This is the largest, essentially intact, historic mining site in the park. The largest mine shaft, some 500 feet deep, is covered. However, other smaller ones remain unsecured on the hillsides, so exercise caution when wandering the site.

Sunday: (optional)
Fortynine Palms Oasis – Level 3 – Miles: 3 – Elevation: 500’ – Hours: 2-4
This is a wonderful, moderately strenuous hike leading to a secluded oasis. The trail is well maintained and easy to follow but rocky. It begins at the end of Canyon Road, midway between Indian Cove and 29 Palms. To get there we leave our campground and turn right heading toward Twentynine Palms. Turn right onto Canyon Road to the parking lot. From the parking lot, it climbs to its highest point in the first half of the trip; from this elevation you have a view of 29 Palms, and shortly later, as the trail curves to the right, you have your first glimpse of the 49 Palms Oasis .75 miles ahead down a rocky gorge. The descent to the oasis traverses dry, rocky terrain; even the desert shrubs are dwarfed by the harsh conditions. Miniature barrel cacti dot the slopes. The windy, dry hills above make the oasis even more striking. Hikers should stay on the trail to avoid trampling young vegetation at the oasis.

Pile of Rocks On A Grassy Meadow

Directions To Joshua Tree:

From San Jose: Take 101 South to 152 East to I-5 South. Go 242.8 miles, through the Grapevine, past Magic Mountain and take the Pasadena exit onto I-210 E. Go 44.4 miles and take exit #45/Santa Ana onto CA-57 S. Go 4.2 miles then back to the San Bernardino/Los Angeles exit onto I-10 E toward San Bernardino Fwy East/San Bernardino. Go 74.5 miles and take exit #117/29 Palms/Yucca Valley onto Twentynine Palms Hwy (CA-62-E). Follow signs to Indian Cove Campground. Just past the West Entrance Station turn right onto Indian Cove Rd. If you reach the Oasis Visitor Center you have gone too far.

Travel time from San Jose: 8 hours (including pit stops)

Rocky Hill Studded With Palm Trees

Know Before You Go:

Entrance Fee to National Parks: $20
Wild Recovery Camping fee: $15
Dogs allowed with current rabies certificate in campground only.

We will be camping in the desert at the cusp of winter and spring. The temperatures can be varied; bring layers. You can expect the nights to be cold and the days hot. Extra blankets, beanies, gloves, thermals can be life savers if we encounter sudden drops in temperatures. Shorts, tank tops, sandals and hats can be useful during the days in case of warming trends.
Be prepared for both.

This campout is currently sold out but there is a waiting list and if you miss this one there are 2 other opportunities to catch a retreat with us in 2010.

View of Plain With Hills in Background

Wild Recovery Meetings | What to Wear & Bring | Trail Maps/ Park Info | Contact Us
What is Wild Recovery? | NA Online Resources | Business & Documents