Monday, April 4, 2016

Lost Palms Oasis, Joshua Tree National Park



Although the image of Joshua trees probably comes to mind when you think of Joshua Tree National Park, there are actually five native California fan palm oases in the park. For our last hike with Suzanne before we went our separate ways, we decided to hike the trail to Lost Palms Oasis at Cottonwood Spring, just 7 miles from our campsite.

In the southern portion of the park there are no Joshua trees at all, as this is the Colorado Desert (part of the Sonoran), not the Mojave, which is the higher desert where Joshua trees grow. But the scenery is still beautiful, with lots of rocks and colorful blooms.

And if you only want to walk a short distance from the parking lot there is a smaller fan palm oasis near the start of the trail at Cottonwood Spring.


Looking back at the oasis towards the parking lot.


We were here at a good time as so much was in bloom.




Yucca and more ocotillos.


My favorite, the sand blazing star.


Desert globemallow.


Mojave astor.


The rocks were nice to look at, also.



Zipper rock.


Dead fish rock. See the spine?


There were quite a few birds, including this phainopepla. or silky flycatcher. Not the greatest photo but I like how you can see his crest. They also have a very pleasant call.


Jim has been playing lizard whisperer lately. Doesn’t this Blaine’s horned lizard have great camouflage? Sadly, due to increased temperatures and decreased rainfall they are being pushed out of their range and may eventually vanish from the park.


A face only a mother could love.


Many of the cacti were beginning to bloom, like this silver cholla.


Barrel cactus.


And beavertail cactus.


This is a fairly long trail, about 3.5 miles to the palm oasis overlook, with lots of ups and downs, but nothing too strenuous.



There’s the Salton Sea again.


Then we finally arrived at the view of the palms.


Jim and I actually hiked this trail back in 2010, but neither of us remembered it except that when we got to this point we turned around and didn’t go all the way down to the palms. This time we were going all the way, but it felt like a long 0.2 miles down the steep rocks to get there. This is the worst part of the trail.



We finally made it down among the palms, which are numbered at over 100, but who’s counting.


We just admired them and listened to the wind rustle through the palm fronds. Did I mention it was another windy hiking day? Seems we haven’t been able to get away from it lately.

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Here’s a goofy selfie. Jim, Gayle and Suzanne.


It was another good day on the trail, and after we got back had the pleasure to meet Alex and Ellen, fulltime RVers who were parked just down the road from us. Then a green Lazy Daze pulled in belonging to Nancy (Wish You Were Here!), who we haven’t seen since last summer in Colorado. She and her dog Dolly were taking her daughter back to college and just pulled in for the night. It was nice visiting with everybody.

The following day we said our goodbyes to Suzanne and made the 80 mile drive full circle back to Jojoba Hills. As you might have guessed, we’ve temporarily put up our hiking boots and cameras in exchange for pickleball paddles. So far it’s been great fun.


  1. Sorry I missed this hike last winter but it was a bit long and I'd already hiked to several palm canyons in Anza Borrego.

  2. That "goofy selfie" cracks me up. Jim looks like he is guilty of something. ;-) Well, at least you got the mountain in the background instead of photos of nasal passages like I usually get!

  3. Very nice close up pics of the flowers and cacti. And I like the group selfie.

  4. Love all the boulders among the palms! That horned lizard is a fantastic catch! Looks like you were here at the perfect time.

  5. Love all the spring blooms - great shots! And a horned "toad" is such a rare find anymore. We grew up in the desert nearby and saw them all the time, sadly that is no longer the case. That last downhill looks daunting, but the palms are incredible.

  6. Loving all those blooms and fauna. Plus the goofy selfie just tops it off :)

  7. We hiked that trail many years ago, plus the 49 palms trail just outside 29 Palms. Love the color of the desert, so brilliant against the subtle browns and greys.

  8. Very interesting about all the oases and the very different northern and southern areas. Any post with great rocks, beautiful flowers complete with pollinator, cool people and a fantastic lizard rates high in my book. Seems really strange to see those palms there in that rocky landscape. I didn't think the selfie was goofy at all. You all look terrific!

  9. Beautiful!!! Love all the cacti blooms:) Sure looks like a zipper in that rock. Yes, that lizard face is one only a mother could love:)

    Enjoy the change of activities:)

  10. Gotta love the desert in spring! So glad to be spending a little more time with you two.

  11. We hiked to a palm oasis at Joshua Tree 4 years ago. Not this one but they are all so special.
    Really enjoyed the flower photos with the names...thanks!