After driving back from the Salton Sea, we entered the Joshua Tree National Park from the south, an area that we had, until that point, not explored. From there, we did several short hikes through the desert, including Barker Dam and Hidden Valley.
Barker Dam is on the National Register of Historic Places. In February, it was closed to the public because of vandalism, as you can see below. You can read this article documenting the closure. The dam was originally erected in 1900 and then reinforced in 1950. Early cattle ranchers used this area to water their herds. I don’t know why there hasn’t been any water at the site, a supposed desert oasis, but I suspect drought is the answer.
The back of the damn, showing the original build from 1900 and the 6′ cement addition built in 1949-50.
Another feature of the hike is the amount of pertroglyphs that can be found among the boulders. However, again, many of these have also been vandalized in the past.
After doing some Internet research, these petroglyphs were supposedly colored red, black and blue by Walt Disney Productions in the early 50s. Apparently there was filming happening in the area, and the petroglyphs were more visible on-camera painted in these garish colors. However, it appears that there are non-native drawings scribed into the patina of the rocks as well in certain places as well.
This little guy has a blue throat, which appears during mating season. It’s some variation of a Western Fence Lizard.
The next short hike was nearby Hidden Valley, which was a purported secret hideout for cattle rustlers and their stolen beasts. It’s encircled by golden boulders on all sides; the cattle thieves allegedly found the valley by following local native tribes, which used the valley as a sacred ceremonial site. The thieves then used dynamite to blast an opening wide enough for herds of stolen cattle to enter.
I chased (read: walked, slowly following) this pair of baby bunnies through the underbrush trying to get a good photo.
This is the other type of Yucca tree found in Joshua Tree! Equally beautiful in bloom.
The setting sun quickly sank behind the valley walls. We hiked out under magical twilight.
I love southern California. It’s such a gorgeous place to visit. Perhaps one day I’ll have the opportunity to stay there for a longer period of time.