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What to expect for the first time in j tree?


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Kevin Sulka · · Indiana · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 0

I'm headed to Joshua tree for the first time in October is their anything I should know before I go? How are the climbs? Gear? Camping? etc?

Robert Hall · · North Conway, NH · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 16,253

It's a LARGE area.  Some of the crags are not that easy to find.  Maybe these days with GPS things are easier, but we found it really easy to "wander in the wilderness".  

Also, it's the "high" dessert....Oct can be HOT, or it can snow on you!

The other thing...Idelwild (Taquitz & Suicide) are only about 1 1/2 hrs drive away. (In case it gets too warm at J Tree)

I don't know about camping / rreservations for the same; but it's a Nat. PARK now (as opposed to a Nat. Monument, as it was until a few years ago) so probably lots of non-climbers there too.

master gumby · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 131

expect a sun burn, bloody hands and fingers, "runouts", and people packed in like sardines

Sam Cieply · · Venice, CA · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 25

It has been a National Park since 1994, and there are indeed more people than ever visiting from all over. Camping is a huge pain these days, and lots of people end up backcountry camping by parking at Boy Scout Trail and hiking out a mile. Unfortunately, many folks don't bother hiking more than a couple hundred feet and they leave all kinds of trash behind. Don't do that.

Hidden Valley is the "climber's camp", near lots of classic climbs and bouldering. It's first-come first-serve, and there are only 44 sites so you gotta be lucky, or show up early to cruise around and ask people when they're leaving. Weekends are the worst, but it can be difficult any day of the week.

Jumbo Rocks is the biggest campground in the park and it's very nice. It switched to a reservation system this year, so check recreation.gov. It's closer to the Twentynine Palms entrance to the park, which is where Rib Co is. Go there if you enjoy ribs, they are superb.

Indian Cove campground is also large and will be reservable when you're there. It's a separate entrance and isolated from the majority of the park and there is some climbing there.

Black Rock Campground isn't really in the park, it's a few miles west. It's convenient enough to drive to the park from there (or take the shuttle), but not ideal if you're looking to stay long-term near climbing.

susan peplow · · Joshua Tree · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 2,695

Typically October is pretty dreamy.  Like @Robert said, It can be very warm it can be unseasonably cold.  High winds are normal but you can almost always find the right sun/shade/wind protection you want.  

Gear - bring a full rack of doubles and plenty of options to extend your anchors whether belaying from the top or setting up top ropes.  Walk-offs are common, so be mindful to source your exit plan before launching upwards.  Scrambling or being cliffed out could easily happen, best to read the beta or have a plan of descent before you go up.  Some formations have rappel stations, some even have convenience anchors.  There is more sport climbs that you think but probably not in the sense you've experienced elsewhere.  Plan to walk-off and be joyful when you don't need to.  Please don't trample our desert when lost.  

Camping is hit or miss.  More miss on the weekends than hit.  October brings peak season with climbers, hikers, and folks from those horrid coastal towns to the west looking to enjoy a little nature or at least post some photos on IG.  

NPS camping, lots of it but mid-week is your best bet for success.  Everyone will tell you if you're looking for partners or to capture some climbing scene to try Hidden Valley first - which will also host climbers coffee probably starting some Saturday around then. Walk a mile backcountry Camping is an option too. JTNP Camping

No water is in the park so I'm assuming you have a car to get you in/out of the entrances (you can fill there or in town).  The RoadRunner Shuttle should be returning too - a dirtbaggers dream to hop the free shuttle for supplies or to the hot spot parking areas.  

Climbsmart is in October if you're looking for a modestly priced instruction, communal gathering and camping outside the Park.  CLIMBSMART

If camping is uber grim you can bivy at the dry lake bed north of JT.  It's free, it's BLM, it's giant.  

Traveling with a pal or looking for a vacation rental?  Tons of those in town too, including Joshua Tree Vacation Homes

Hobo Greg · · My Van · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 175
Robert Hall wrote: It's a LARGE area.  Some of the crags are not that easy to find.  Maybe these days with GPS things are easier, but we found it really easy to "wander in the wilderness".  

Uh, not really. The park itself is about 800,000 acres but the climbing is limited to an area maybe 1/5th that size. And the book has great directions and maps, so if one is getting lost, that's on the user.

M. Morley · · Sacramento, CA · Joined Jan 2002 · Points: 6,605
Kevin Sulka wrote: I'm headed to Joshua tree for the first time in October is their anything I should know before I go? How are the climbs? Gear? Camping? etc?

Did you check the main Joshua Tree page? All of your questions are answered there in detail.

Sam Cieply · · Venice, CA · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 25
Hobo Greg wrote:

Uh, not really. The park itself is about 800,000 acres but the climbing is limited to an area maybe 1/5th that size. And the book has great directions and maps, so if one is getting lost, that's on the user.

I agree that it's on you if you get hopelessly lost, but it definitely happens:

https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/local/2018/05/26/new-zealand-hiker-missing-few-days-joshua-tree-found-hurt-alive/647365002/

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-joshua-tree-hike-couple-20171024-story.html

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/03/22/magazine/voyages-joshua-tree-lost-hiker.html

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-missing-couple-found-20161118-story.html
Xam · · Boulder, Co · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 71
Robert Hall wrote:
Also, it's the "high" dessert....Oct can be HOT, or it can snow on you!

Is it? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_D…

Hobo Greg · · My Van · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 175
Xam wrote:

Is it? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_D…

You're only half right. Actually, as far as the climbing is concerned, you're totally wrong. 

From your link: These areas are distinguished in biogeography from the adjacent northern High Desert or Mojave Desert by latitude, elevation, animal life, climate, and native plant communities.[1]

All of the climbing in Josh is in the Mojave aka High Desert. The other half of the park, the Sonoran, contains no climbing.
Sam Cieply · · Venice, CA · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 25
Xam wrote:

Is it? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_D…

It depends what part of the park you are in. Part is Mojave (high) desert, and part is Colorado (lower) desert. They each have their own ecosystems, and I believe Hidden Valley Loop is where they overlap. There’s some info about all of this on the signs around the loop.

Xam · · Boulder, Co · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 71

I stand corrected.  Having grown up in the CA high desert, we always referred to jtree as the low desert but now I know and knowing is half the battle.

Guy Keesee · · Moorpark, CA · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 311

Hobo is correct... the crest of the Little San Bernardino Mt. Is the geographical demarcation line separating Mojave from Sonora desert... but there is climbing right close to the Parks South entrance... Todd G has some of it posted... and just south of I10 you can find more craging all along that part ... but it’s best visited in February.

Susan’s rentals are the best!

And if you want really good sport climbing... go to NJC... the time spent driving there equals about the same time as waiting at the main entrance.

The clowns who run JTNP, need to figure out the main gate fubar and the whole camping fiasco.

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275

Get a guidebook. Most of your questions will be answered. The books by either Vogel, or Miramontes, are what you need.

Peter Brown-Whale · · Randallstown, MD · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 20

You can expect wild temperature swings, choss and the strong desire to drive to Red Rock

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,455

The land of 10,000 climbs, 100 worth doing. Choose wisely.

kevin deweese · · Oakland, Ca · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 420

Expect to somehow have an amazing climbing trip while simultaneously being underwhelmed by every single climb you do.

Also don’t bother trying to camp inside jtree, just bivy in the blm salt flats every night and be sure to get to the gates early

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,455

Sounds like JT has jumped the shark!

Desert Monkey · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 5

You should expect someone to tell you that you should climb up into the space station

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,455

You should also expect multiple pretentious van lifers with stupid dogs.

kevin deweese · · Oakland, Ca · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 420

Be sure to bring a baggie of shiitake mushrooms to sell to the college kids who want to have a jtree “experience”

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Southern California
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