Hidden Valley - Joshua Tree NP, CA

Date: 3/30/2013

Trip Report: We had a great time exploring the vast wilderness of Joshua Tree. Even though we only covered a tiny portion of the park, we had quite the adventure. Since we didn't follow a set trail and just wandered everywhere, there is no trail information. But if you're feeling adventurous and are up for a physical challenge, head to Joshua Tree yourself and just start exploring! Climbing the rocks is really fun, and no rock climbing experience necessary - just be sure to remember that coming down is harder than going up!

Area map - Hidden Valley is one of the most western areas
Area map - Hidden Valley is one of the most western areas

We wanted to spend a day in Joshua Tree and didn't feel like doing any set hikes, so we just stopped at the first area we saw. We parked at Hidden Valley picnic area, and after following the dirt trail for a little, we veered off towards a pile of boulders.

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After climbing atop some smaller rock patches, we headed towards the largest mountain we could find. With no intention of actually climbing over it, we just started climbing up for fun.

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It was very easy, and driven by the feeling that if we just went a little higher, the view would be better, we continued up.

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Eventually we reached the top and couldn't climb any further. We rested in the shade of a large boulder on a nice, flat rock with an awesome view.

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We saw a small crevice that continued up, so we decided to randomly just see what was further on. We saw light up ahead and crawled through..

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We yelped at what we saw. It was an entire valley with completely different scenery. There were boulders everywhere and the view looking down on it was absolutely incredible.

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The crazy part was that this small flat area had been discovered before by someone who climbed through that crevice. It seemed like an amazing spot to set up a tent, and the tall rock walls on either side protected us from the wind. Plus, the view was hard to beat.

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We looked out onto the valley from the edge of the secluded spot. As we rested there, we could barely see other hikers making their way through the valley below. They really looked like ants crawling across the Earth! After about 30 minutes, we decided to head back down. The way down was much more difficult, and we ended up taking a different way than the way we had climbed up. We had to backtrack and climb back up several times when we would reach an impassable downclimb.

We had several tense moments as one by one, everybody would be challenged with several difficult maneuvers. It was challenging and definitely mental because we had to stay calm. But after working together, we made it to the ground and were so elated to be back on solid ground. This was definitely the highlight of the trip! What's a little adventure without some risk and challenge, right?

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The sun was beginning to set, giving the desert my favorite golden glow. We continued wandering around, enjoying the beautiful glow the sun cast on everything.

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As we made our way back to the car, we talked about our climbing adventure and the perfect overlook that we discovered. The stars were starting to come out, and it was hard to not stare at them out the window while driving back.

We had such a great time at Joshua Tree, it was one of our favorite trips. We would definitely come back and explore a different area, or even to camp a night when it wasn't too cold or hot. We originally went for the wildflowers, but the dry winter we had meant we didn't see much. Hopefully next year the flowers will be better so we can come back!