Let's Camp: Hidden Valley Campground JTNP
Sometimes the urge to go sleep outside just can't be silenced. This happened to us back in October (and practically every weekend, really), and we knew we needed to head to the desert. We loaded up the car with our camping goods, and went to work on Friday ready to hit the road. We left just a little bit early, because anticipation is just pushy sometimes. Also, we live in southern California, so traffic just gets worse and worse the later it gets on Friday.
We hit the road almost immediately after we got home. What should typically have been about a two and half hour drive or so, ended up being a slow, annoying crawl through traffic that took almost four hours. We got to the desert as the sun was setting, grabbed some Del Taco at a drive through, and hoped we would find a campsite.
We decided to try the campgrounds closer to the entrance, to save some time, and our first option was Hidden Valley. We pulled in and the first site (#1) looked like it could be perfect, and it was available, so we got pretty excited. We drove around the loop, just to take a look, and most of the sites had people in them, so we went back to the first one. It's somewhat isolated from the "loop", since it's just up at the entrance, with a boulder on one side and the road on the other. We had a neighbor on only one side, so we planted our stakes and called it home.
It was defintitely busy around us as the evening wore on, as more traffic came in, and every set of headlights swooped through our spot. After about 9pm, this quieted down a lot and we didn't have much traffic.
We built a big fire, enjoyed our burritos and some beer, and just sat back to relax and enjoy what we came here for. It took a lot of hustle and bustle to escape the "city", but it's always worth it when those peaceful desert surroundings take over. The stars were bright, some clouds were reflecting the moon, and it was perfect weather. We avoided the heat of the day, and got there just in time to enjoy the coolness of the evening.
Eventually, we headed for the tent. This was an exciting moment - we slept in the tent with the fly off for the first time ever. I'm a huge scaredy-cat most of the time when we're camping, and somehow, having that fabric fly covering me and blocking me from the outside world feels safer. It's not logical, but it helps somehow. The weather just hadn't cooled down much yet, so the fly would have been suffocating.
It turns out, sleeping without the fly is super comfortable when the temperature is just right. I wasn't scared, and I wasn't cold or hot. The moon was big, so it was a little bright at times, but it was super cool rolling over, looking up, and seeing a Joshua Tree right above me.
Another strange-for-us thing happened on this trip - we woke up super early. It was probably due to having the fly off, and the sun waking us up a little better, but we actually beat the sunrise. We are rarely up with the sun when camping. We were up and wandering around the boulders as the sun came up. The desert is possibly at it's most beautiful in that early morning light...
We made some coffee, packed things up, and headed down the road to see what we could explore for a little more adventure. Eventually, it was time to head back home, still in that early morning light.
It was a peaceful trip, despite the hustle to get out to a camp site, just when our brains and bodies needed a retreat. Joshua Tree never fails to send us home refreshed and energized!