Saturday, November 19, 2016

Joshua Tree, Part 1: A Country of Rocks

11/16/16 Cap Rock

In the book I read to prepare for our visit to Joshua Tree National Park, I found a description of one observer’s impression of the geologic formations there: “It looks like God vomited rocks.” That description stayed with me during our trip as the most apt for the truly amazing landscapes we observed in this harsh desert.

11/16/16 Sunset near Arch Rock
Compared to some national parks we’ve visited that require quite a bit of hiking to see the best parts, Joshua Tree is much more accessible. After driving for a half-hour into the park, you can easily pull off the main road at numerous places to observe, photograph and sketch. We spent much of our two-and-a-half days doing exactly that. The park also offers many well-kept, easy-to-hike nature trails and loops if you want to get closer to the crazy rock formations, and we did several of those, too.

Some rocks seem to take on personalities. Skull Rock, Cap Rock and the Trojan have all been named for their appearance. Others are like a Rorschach test that probably say something about their observers – Greg and I kept pointing out faces, profiles, whales, dolphins and other creatures that appeared on the horizon. The difficulty in sketching these rocks was that I was always looking for nearby people to use for scale. Otherwise it’s hard to show just how huge these piles of “vomit” are.
11/15/16 Skull Rock

Sketching climbers trying to conquer these formidable walls was also challenging, if only because I could hardly watch them. Whether they were tiny dots at the very top or still scaling the rocks like bugs, I could feel my own adrenaline pumping, fearing for them. 

11/15/16 student climber
11/15/16 This climber had just reached the top.

11/15/16 "The Trojan" near Hidden Valley


  1. Some of those rock formations are really amazing. I laughed at the vomiting rocks idea, but I can see it. Thanks for taking us along.

    1. It's a truly amazing place! I want to go back -- so many rocks I missed! ;-) Thanks for viewing!


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