“You can probably rattle off a long list of good reasons to hike in Joshua Tree National Park: the boulder-strewn landscape, the Martian rock formations, the fiery sunsets with those namesake yucca palms in silhouette. They all factor into the park’s spiking visitation, which has doubled in the past 12 years — from 1.4 million visitors in 2010 to more than 3 million last year — causing backups at the entry gates (especially the West Entrance in Joshua Tree), parking shortages at popular spots, and traffic on some of the trails.
While my partner, Edgar, and I frequent the park, we also like a quiet, solitary experience in nature. So, over the past several months, we set out on a variety of High Desert hikes outside the park boundaries — places with an equally satisfying measure of prickly ocotillo and cholla, sunbaked boulders, and surprising oases.
Here are five hikes, two of which — Fortynine Palms Oasis and Rattlesnake Canyon — are technically part of the national park but accessible from its outer perimeter, that we recommend you try this spring…”