2.17.2011

Joshua Tree National Park: An Autism Vacation Destination

I almost forgot to post this -- we spent New Year's Eve at California's Joshua Tree National Park, near Palm Springs. It was one of our best family days ever. Ever ever ever. 

If your child with autism likes to hike and boulder, I couldn't imagine a better place to go -- as long as you're prepared. Joshua Tree is high desert, and in December that means ow-my-nose cold temperatures. If you go, check the weather report beforehand, take it seriously, and dress appropriately!

For hiking, I'd recommend the Barker Dam trail. It is a relatively flat 1.5 mile loop -- flat in terms of elevation gain, not footing. There were many bouldery moments, which as a family of billy goats we all loved.
Barker Dam trail - outbound
We found snow! And ice! Mali is holding up a small slab of frozen H20.
Iz testing the lake to verify that yes, indeed, it is frozen.
The reservoir created by Barker Dam is small but lovely. It attracts the area's fauna, but to Seymour's disappointment we did not see any Desert Big Horn sheep.
Iz pushing her personal bouldering limits.
There's always time for a game of "my cheeks make excellent bellows"
See? Joshua trees! Return leg from Barker Dam.
There were even petroglyphs. Though these ones have been messed with.
We hit several other sites in the park, but the kids' favorite was Skull Rock and the bouldering behind it. The rough-textured granite rocks make climbing easy -- almost too easy. Your kids may get over-confident about their new super human climbing abilities, so mind them closely. There are many sharp drop offs on boulder backsides, and kids may not notice how high up they are climbing, and could get stranded.

Leo billy-goating -- with close supervision.
Bouldering wonderland!
Wear jeans or other tough trousers. After a couple of hours of gamboling over the rough-textured rocks, Mali ripped the bottom right out of her pants! Which led us to sing her an impromptu personalized version of the SpongeBob Square Pants "Ripped Pants" song. She was mortified and made us all swear never to share it.
We stayed nearby in TwentyNine Palms, at the Fairfield Marriott Inn. The hotel seemed set up for families, with complimentary breakfast, huge clean new rooms, and free wireless. Score! Recommended, especially with a spanking AAA discount rate.

I think we'll be going back. A single day, no matter how full, was insufficient to appreciate this beautiful park. We're hoping to come back, possibly even camp (!). 

Have you ever been to Joshua Tree National Park? What did you think?

4 comments:

  1. Just wanted to say hi- I'm new to your blog.

    Never been to Joshua Tree, but it looks beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Christy, and welcome!

    Joshua Tree NP was far more beautiful than these photos could capture. I hope you get to go some day.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Elaine4:03 PM

    We camped there last Christmas on our way to Arizona. It was beautiful but very cold. Luckily we now have our fabulous camper back for our truck and have accessorized it with a portable heater so we did not freeze to death. In spite of the low temperatures the campground was full.

    We also did a trek around Skull Rock, which you could walk to from our campsite.

    Like Death Valley, this place leaves you wondering just how many pictures you can take of rocks and still feel like you don't have enough.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've never been to Joshua Tree National Park, but I've seen plenty of Joshua Trees around Las Vegas.

    I'm glad you had a great time.

    ReplyDelete

Respectful disagreement encouraged.

Related Posts with Thumbnails