Return To Joshua Tree



Our Camp In Indian Cove Campground
Our Camp In Indian Cove Campground

It has been many full moons since Denise and I last visited Joshua Tree National Park.  Recently we returned.

Climbers On Old Women Rock Hidden Valley Campground
Climbers On Old Women Rock Hidden Valley Campground
Hidden Valley Campground 1970
Hidden Valley Campground 1970

Having lived in Southern California in the 1960’s and 70’s, my brother Sam and I have a long history of visiting this high desert mecca.  My family has considered this park their weekend playground since the mid 70’s.

Thanks to our great National Park System the park remains the same but not surprisingly the surrounding communities have grown extensively.

Taylor Brothers Begin A JT Climb S+C Photo
Taylor Brothers Begin A JT Classic                            S+C Photo

Visitation has also steadily grown and it is now the place to be in the winter months especially if you are a rock climber.

Today Hidden Valley Campground, the heart of most climbing activity, is basically a climbers only campground and is usually fully occupied most of the winter.

Rapping Off The Cyclops S+C Photo
Rapping Off The Cyclops                                S+C Photo

In the early 1970’s my brother and I would leave work on a Friday night and drive our vintage VW vans at a steady 60 mph from Ventura County to the high desert.

We would often roll into Hidden Valley Campground around midnight and have the place to ourselves.

Early Dirtbags
Early Dirtbagers

Throughout the weekend we would only see a few other campers/climbers.  Often we would run into the Desert Rats, the original Joshua Tree dirtbag climbers.

It was great fun to try and follow them on their cutting edge bouldering moves and try duplicating some of their first ascents.

Yours Truly Ready To Climb
Yours Truly Ties Into The Sharpe End Of The Rope     S+C Photo

Later in the mid 70’s and early 80’s we enticed our families to go camping in this wonderland of rocks.  It didn’t take long before they were hooked.

Sometimes there would be 4 or more VW camper vans at our campsite.  Midnight full moon walks, boulder scrambles and campfire stories were just some of the fun we had.


We would spend our days climbing and wandering around the fantastically shaped boulders.

Evenings would be spent around the campfire under unbelievable star filled night skies long before local light pollution was a problem.

Family Gathering In Hidden Valley Campground 1980's S+C Photo
Family Gathering In Hidden Valley Campground 1980’s
                                   S+C Photo


Denise and I continued to climb at JT into the 80’s and 90’s enjoying the fabulous winter weather and exciting short climbs.

Denise Belays Tim Late 1980's
Denise Belays Tim Late 1980’s

Some 25 years later we return to this wonderful place to reminisce and once again take in the splendor of this high desert paradise.

We now travel with 2 big dogs and the size of our camper has increased but our enthusiasm remains the same.



The mystique and magic of this place continues to draw us.  Not only does Joshua Tree hold many great memories for us, it continues to inspire us.  There is something very special about this place.

And maybe most importantly the climate is currently far more pleasant than at our home in Alaska.

We were very lucky to have spent our youth in such a place.  Undoubtably JT will continue to be an important recreation destination as California continues to grow, but we are glad to have been part of its early days.

Building Clouds Near Cottonwood Springs
Building Clouds Near Cottonwood Springs



IMG_8311IMG_0328 (1)

If you haven’t visited Joshua Tree National Park we highly recommend it.  During the winter months expect very busy campgrounds and trails.  But if you are willing to wander off trail you can easily loose the crowds and possibly….yourself.

We would like to thank Sam and Chris Taylor for the use of their old photos within this blog.  They sure bring back great memories.

Don’t miss our newest video “Return to Joshua Tree”.  Slip in the ear buds and crank up the music, the soundtrack is great!


                            A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year to All !!!

Taylor Family Front Door 1980's
Taylor Family Front Door 1980’s







18 thoughts on “Return To Joshua Tree

  1. Wonderful post and cool “hippie day” pics…and darn, our bodies just don’t seam to resemble those of the 60’s. Thank goodness for those memories for they continue to be the fuel to our passion and enthusiasm to get out there. The video is again a hit with us….love the soundtrack and the family pics. Looks like you got yourself nestled in quite nice at Indian Cove too. We still haven’t stopped talking about JT with anyone that will listen. One of the top jewels of the year!


      1. Dittos to you both and the “kids”…and if you are ever near Cambria…ring the bell….would love to hear about your adventures over some ‘burnt’ meat (or veggies) & the central coasts finest red.


      2. Thanks for the invite. You never know as we head north for the summer in late march, depending on the weather, our first choice is to drive up 1 which could put us on your front door…..keep you posted
        PS you guys produce a wonderful blog site!


  2. Hi Taylor’s – it is good to hear from you. Thanks for the lovely pictures and video of Joshua Tree NP. I have done it several times and took my good friend Jim Kaufmann from Parker, CO along. We had great time – what a beautiful place. Here is wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Just as a reminder – remember the Gehlhaar KOA is always open to the Taylors and the Dogs.

    Gert and Joyce


  3. I loved seeing the hair and reading the family history at Joshua Tree! Yet another park that we have to experience on our next road trip. Merry Christmas to the entire Taylor family and safe travels you two (four). As always, awesome job on the video!


    1. Teresa,
      Both Denise and have many memories of you at JT. You once drove dads VW bug to meet us all in hidden valley and then theres the time you got lost one evening in the rocks and we had to go out and look for you and then theres the classic photo of you and Jeanelle changing the tire on moms van out on the middle of the desert…….the list goes on


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