Visiting Joshua Tree National Park at the peak of summer wasn’t the best decision I ever made, but the views and desolate crowds made the 107 degree desert heat worthwhile. With most of the hikes closed down due to wildfires and the heat restricting our time outdoors, I was really surprised by the amount of different landscapes that we were able to explore.
For this adventure I decided to use my Samsung NX300 and switch between a 200mm and 18-55mm lens, since I was capturing whole panoramas as well as some close-up nature shots. Joshua Tree offers a plethora of great panoramas, so I naturally found myself taking full advantage of the “Panorama” feature on the device to capture the full extent of these landscapes.
Some of the most interesting natural features in Joshua Tree are the rock formations—it’s actually known as a rock climbing playground, attracting people from all over the world. I particularly enjoyed exploring Skull Rock, which isn’t so much a climbing destination as a possible entryway to an underwater treasure trove straight from The Goonies. I felt especially triumphant once I climbed the top of the skull and found myself wanting to yell, “Goonies never say die!”
Then there are the Teddy Bear cacti, a subset of Cholla cacti that look especially cute and fuzzy. But beware, for as huggable as they seem, they actually hold some of the sharpest barbs you’ll ever encounter, earning them biologist W.P. Armstrong’s label as “The Undisputed Most Painful Hitchhiker.” And that’s not the only thing you have to worry about in the Cholla Cactus Garden, since it’s also filled with honeybees that have become aggressive toward visitors.
Yes, I laughed when I first saw the signs warning of aggressive honeybees, but I was immediately set straight when I found myself being stalked by one especially feisty bee that seemed on a mission to hitch a ride in my shirt, all while trying to avoid the stands of teddy bear cacti (camera still in hand!) surrounding me at every turn. Quite the adventure indeed.
All in all, despite its challenges, Joshua Tree National Park proved to be a great destination for anyone who wants to enjoy a variety of desert landscapes all within one day.