Once again, load up your gas in Needles, don’t get gas at the “Gas Oasis” in the middle of the Mojave if you can avoid it because it is twice the price of California gas (which is expensive already). The drive from Needles to the park was odd. Lots of middle of nowhere with no cell reception. Make sure you have your directions recorded first (written in notes, screenshots, printed). We thought we’d seen the last of Route 66 but it found us again.
We originally didn’t realize how close it was or think about going, but the night before I was looking at the map and saw how close it was and we decided to give up on doubling back to see Oatman to see Joshua Tree instead. It did not disappoint!
Don’t forget to hydrate! Keep water with you at all times. Folks with sensitivities (CFS/ME) should wear both hat and sunglasses! Everyone sunscreen up.
The visitors Center has a mini museum, a nice little gift shop, a garden with some lovely examples of cacti in the park, and a short wheelchair accessible trail around “The Oasis of Mara”. The trail has descriptions of a variety of plants and their historical usage. They gave me a map of the park and pointed out which areas were accessible and which ones might be.
We got out to look around a lovely campsite between some boulders that the kiddo had fun climbing.
The Cholla Cactus Garden Trail was suggested as accessible, but a person alone in the chair would have a hard time and would have to only go partway not to get stuck. The drop after the wooden bridges is about 4-6 inches and there are a couple sandy spots. We managed with my husband’s help, but it really required lifting and pushing. Still, without help you could manage to get a little bit in, enough to get the experience of being surrounded by the Cholla cacti. We got to see a little white lizard!
I managed to see Skull Rock using my cane/seat. It was pretty close to the road. Could see it at 20-30 feet? Not accessible by wheelchair. Also saw another of the Ravens that we have been seeing our whole trip.
Cap Rock trail was very accessible and has a wheelchair accessible bathroom (which I did not use since we had the rv so can’t report back). You get great close-up and long views of Joshua Trees and some lovely rock formations. The trail is hard-packed dirt. It does have little bars at the sign posts which can have the dirt quite eroded next to them and become significant bumps or even minor obstacles though. Best trail in the park for a chair.
If you are not in an rv (rvs are discouraged from going on Keys View Road), there is an accessible view of Coachella Valley from Keys View. There is also. a steep area viewpoint which is not accessible. There is an accessible toilet. This is what we heard but we did not go over that road in the rv.
We understand the Bajada Nature Trail was also accessible, but I had hit my limit of what I could do that day.
If there had been more rain, the park would have been in full bloom when we were there (mid May), but sadly not. However I did catch some blooming going on in people’s yards just outside the park where they were getting water. It wouldhave been amazing to be there in a spring after lots of rain.
Integration is just outside Joshua tree near the west exit. Look at the link, because it’s not easy to explain. We were told it was not to be missed by friends of friends who run it. Sadly with covid it was closed/by appointment only. One thing we did find out is that you can get there a couple ways, and one involves lots of dirt roads but you can get there without going on dirt. Take the main roads!
We got into Techapi just in time for dinner and ordered food at the deceptively named “Prime Bar and Grill”, an Indian Restaurant in Tehachapi. SUCH GOOD INDIAN FOOD. I need to find a restaurant in SF as good!
We were staying at the Skylark North RV park and it was the best RV park of the trip. Such a great view across a field to mountains. There is actual space between RVs. Our picnic table looked out over the field and it was just lovely. They have a little air strip and take people up in gliders.