Monday, April 26, 2010

Hike 51a: Lost Palms Oasis, Joshua Tree NP

In the six days since my previous trip here, the desert has begun moving towards full summer. The wildflowers that were still thick at the Bajada nature trail were now well past peak, and a parking lot that was full on a Monday was empty on a Sunday.

Meanwhile, with National Park Week coming to a close, the Cottonwood Springs area remained packed. All of the marked parking spaces were taken, and several cars parked outside of designated spots.

Still, once you got about a 1/2 mile away from the parking lot, things opened up nicely.

Today, I took the trail to Lost Palms Oasis. The distances is variously given as 3 miles, 3.1 miles each way, and 3.4 miles each way. I won't hazard a guess, but I will say that, with temperatures in the upper 80s, the 3 miles or so each way were pretty tiring. Partially, this was aggravated by my forgetting my backpack at home. All I carried with me on this hike were a .5 liter bottle of water and my camera. The trail is so heavily traveled that it's not dangerous, but having more to drink and maybe a Cliff bar to eat before heading back would have been nice.

The trail is well-marked, with rocks and signs indicating the correct turn at regular intervals. Nice to have the running commentary on distance, because when the desert heats up, each mile can seem longer than that.

Not surprisingly, the general scenery, flora and fauna are pretty much the same on this hike as the last week's shorter hike to Mastadon Peak.

The oasis itself was a little anticlimatic. I guess being raised on "Get Smart" and cartoons, I imagined the oasis would be a large pool, surrounded by trees. Instead, even though it's still April, water was limited to some REALLY small drips of water. Desert willow and California fan palms grew vigorously, indicating where the water was closest to the surface. But this definitely wasn't any place you would want to (or be able to) go swimming!

Edit--Last note on Lost Oasis--

The final .2 or so miles from the rim down into the actual oasis is very steep. You probably shouldn't try heading down without some grippy shoes. Take care and take your time and the trip down isn't dangerous. But get careless and lose your focus and you can easily trip or slip on your way down. The risk is compounded if you get here tired and thirsty. (It doesn't help if you're overweight and clumsy, and I was all four of those things on Sunday--came uncomfortably close to making a high-speed entry into the oasis!)

New stuff:

Crop of the picture at the top of the post, zeroing in on the chuckwalla that's sunning himself on the rock.

Zebra tailed lizard

Something I'll call "Jar Jar Binks Rock" :D

Same chuckwalla as in the other picture, but taken from the otherside. Mojave aster are blooming at the base of the rock.

Desert mallow, at Lost Palms Oasis.


  1. Great write-up pics! Lost Palms Oasis is one of my fave hikes in the SoCal desert.

    Have you thought about hiking Teutonia Peak or the super-short Rings Trail in the Mojave National Preserve yet? They're both trails that I think you might enjoy, given what else has been on your top 100 list so far.

    Good luck!

  2. It's not a "Top 100 List"; it's just a list of the hikes I've been on so far this year! :D

    My astronomy buddies who I joined in the Mojave Preserve two weeks ago also suggested Teutonia Peak, so it's someplace I plan to go. The other places in the Mojave I want to visit are the lava tube Kirk Kolby mentioned on his website, and the Kelso Dunes.

    Rings Trail doesn't ring any bells with me (ha, ha), but I'll look it up.


  3. OK, found the Rings Trail. Very cool! And right near the group campground where we usually wind up at, anyway. I'll definitely check it out the next time we're near Hole in the Wall.