Joshua Tree National Park, CA
“I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” – John Muir
When I was a young girl, we’d pack 5 children, 2 parents, and a large German Shepard into a broken down wood-paneled station wagon piled with suitcases on top and traipse across the country to visit national parks. Think Brady Bunch meets Beverly Hillbillies. I was much too young to understand the allure of Mother Nature and the grandeur offered by our spectacular national parks. Five decades later … I get it. Not only do I get it … I’ve become absolutely hooked! I suppose if there is a “National Park Addiction,” I’ll admit to having it … proudly.
In January of this year, I found myself burnt out. Overworked and on overload. I was ready for a reset in the new year. Luckily, just 3 hours southeast of LA is one of my favorite getaways, Joshua Tree National Park. I remember the first time I visited the park, I didn’t quite understand the attraction. I suppose it takes a bit of time to understand the desert and allow the magnetic tug to take hold of your heart and soul. Today, I dream of returning to the desert whenever I’m in need of an energy boost or some space for inspiration and relaxation.
Who knew that almost 85 million acres of the United States are dedicated to our national parks? There are actually 58 national parks spanning across 27 states. Every single one has its own unique “flavor” as nothing found in Mother Nature can ever be duplicated. No matter where you live, you too can find refuge in the natural wonder of a park near you. Given that Joshua Tree is only a hop, skip and a jump away from LA, it’s an easy escape that also feels like you’ve entered an alternate universe.
My favorite time to arrive in the desert is either sunrise or sunset. There’s something magical about “Golden Hour” as the desert is illuminated by the most magnificent glow. Sunrise is the quietest time in the park. Arriving just as the desert begins to awaken is an experience in and of itself. Joshua Tree is made up of both a high desert and low desert or two vastly different expanses covering an unbelievable 1200 square miles! Every time you visit any national park, it’s different from the time before. Nothing in nature stays constant. The sounds are different. The scenery is different. The animals you see are different. Even the light is different. It’s a new experience time and again.
Why visit a national park? Well…there are so many reasons but here are some of my favorites:
- It’s one of the most affordable vacations out there! You can even purchase a national park pass for only $80 and that includes up to 4 people in your car! Now, that’s a bargain!
- You’ll discover natural wonders you can only find in a national park such as volcanoes and petrified forests.
- Nature is healing! Spending time in nature has been found to boost our immune systems, lower our stress levels and makes us feel happier.
- They’re educational and rich with history. I shared in a prior post that Joshua Tree was part of the Gold Rush. Who knew? It’s so fun to learn about the history of our national parks. I didn’t quite get that while crammed into a station wagon with my squabbling siblings. I definitely get it now.
- Adrenaline junkies are welcome for the perfect rugged mountain bike course or rappelling down your favorite mountainside.
- National parks aren’t only above ground but also underwater. If you’re a water lover, consider heading to Florida to learn about our coral reefs.
- They’re perfect for relaxation.
- There’s something for everyone and every age.
- They make you want to exercise! Visiting a national park usually involves a lot of hiking. It’s a workout without having to hit the gym.
- It’s a great way to recharge and reconnect…particularly with yourself…and disconnect from technology as, oftentimes, it’s not readily available off the grid.
I feel as though every time I return to the desert, not only is the experience different, I’m different. I learn new things about myself. Nature changes us. Seeing the world through the eyes of wonder changes us. Joshua Tree leaves me in a space of wonder. It’s so peaceful. It’s like a vacuum for negativity. It’s as though it’s sucked right out of you. There’s a new space to fill with the peace and magic found in the desert.
On this trip to the desert, I brought along a variety of looks. I love juxtaposing rugged settings with opulent looks. This one just felt right. By this time, almost sunset, my photog and I had spent two days traipsing through the desert shooting multiple looks. This shoot was at the very end of the day as we were literally chasing the light before it tucked itself behind the mountains surrounding Joshua Tree. As the light falls, so do the temperatures and I was glad to have brought a furry coat with me. This crushed velvet strapless gown was a steal online at Revolve. (check out their spring sale!) It recently went on sale to an unbelievably affordable $45! It’s a show-stopping number that’s perfect for that confident woman who also wants to show a bit of leg. After shying away from the lens for most of my life, I’m at the point in my life where I don’t hold back. I love testing the limits, trying out new looks and stretching my creative abilities. It only took me over 50 years to believe that I was creative at all!
I brought along my favorite pair of silver strappy sandals by Chelsea Paris. I’ve had them for a couple of years and they go with just about everything. They look like a high-end designer shoe but are far more affordable. The craftsmanship is impeccable as they hold up in rough terrain. I found this fluffy lavender coat on sale at Nordstrom over the holidays. I couldn’t resist the color or the coziness. It sold out quickly but I’ve linked a few fun ones I’ve found online at top and bottom of the post. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter what you wear for a shoot in the desert. The essence of the shoot is the beauty found in Mother Nature. I get a little carried away by the creative process and the challenge of coming up with my own version of an editorial shoot. If you happen to catch the golden hour in the desert, that’s really all you need for a spectacular capture.
At the end of a couple of days of heavy duty shooting, I’ll admit I was pooped. I was also elated. I was also ready for a hot shower, a delicious meal and a well-earned glass of wine. It was time to hit the road and call it a day. I’ll be back before you know it. Joshua Tree always holds onto a bit of my heart that keeps tugging at me to return. I have a “ginormous” bucket list which includes visiting every national park across the country. I’m hoping to head to Utah this summer along with the Red Rocks and the Grand Canyon. A dream of mine is to take an RV across the country and visit my Forever Fierce sisters along the way. Want to join me? What’s on your bucket list? Have you ever been to a national park? Comment on what’s your favorite one! I’d love to learn about your experience. Cheers Beauties … maybe I’ll meet you there!