Back to California: Sunrise Hike at Indian Cove Campground & Nature Trail (Joshua Tree National Park)

The day before I left California, I discovered my favourite trail of all time. This trail meant more to me than I will share here, but the majestic rocks lit up in the morning light would have a profound effect on anyone.

Along the trail, bunnies jumped in and out of my path as though I was a visitor of no consequence. The large boulders, the rock-faced mountain range, and the spread of Joshua Tree and 29 Palms below were mesmerizing. I almost didn’t want to leave.

But, I get ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.

The Arrival

This California trip was no random vacation. I was there on personal business with plenty of free time on my hands. I did not waste a single day that I was there. So, with only one day left, I decided I should work in one last hike before I go. Time was of the essence, so it had to be short, beautiful, and worth the drive.

I had been trying to get up early to do a morning hike all that trip, but always left out too late. This time, I went to bed at 8:00 PM and woke up at 4:00 AM. I hadn’t made much time for sleep all week, so the long sleep-in time before an early wake-up was very much appreciated.

I had breakfast, packed my things, and headed off to Joshua Tree National Park. The video below is the drive into the park along a dirt road. If you’re wondering, the music in the background is Marilyn Manson.

Sharing this video with people, I realise not everyone sees beauty in the desert, like I do. Even so, you get to see what wowed me. I actually pulled over to turn the camera on, because I didn’t ever want to have to wait until I came back to see this again.

The Sunrise

I made it just in time as the sun crept up over the city below and the mountains behind me. The sun seems to rise and set surprisingly slow in the rural and suburban desert. Maybe it’s an illusion created by missing clouds and zero skyscrapers, but you notice it most when you’re outdoors for the show.

The Detour

Straight ahead from the car was an open path, so I started my explorations there first. To my left was the beautiful rock formations you see above. There were no signs saying to keep off the rocks and bouldering is one of the activities people frequent this area for, so I’m assuming the rocks are fair game.


The further up the path I ventured, the more beautiful it became. Maybe the changing lighting had something to do with this, but so did the wildlife and vegetation. The bunnies do hop by very quickly, so unfortunately, I have no good shots of them on trails. These were much easier to capture.


Then, I came to the end of the trail, which was confusing since this was supposed to be a loop.


I looked around and saw a path to my left, so I took that over to some large boulders where you could see the sun yawning and stretching in the distance.


In Full Bloom


It took a little climbing, but I made my way up onto the rocks to get a better view. It was so worth it.

Unless I wanted to spend the morning bouldering, there was no trail after this, so I realised I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere and headed back to the car.


The Nature Trail

Luckily, I had phone signal in the area, so I started looking the trail up online. Turns out, I wasn’t the only one who didn’t find it immediately and who went hiking up to the boulders first. Someone mentioned wooden rails, so I started looking for that and found the entrance to the actual nature trail loop.


For the rest of this section, I’ll separate the pictures I took of nature from the informational boards along the trail. I kept the boards in order, so you can read them as I saw them.

The Nature Shots

The Trail Boards

Since returning to Atlanta, I’ve felt more disconnected from this place than I ever have before. The disconnect started in January when it first sank in that I was the wrong colour for virtually all the neighbourhoods I was considering for my tiny home.

It really made me reconsider if Georgia is a place I can commit to for the next 30 years and the answer is an unequivocal no. Home is where you feel welcome, and where I feel most welcome, has always been out west — especially in California.

I’m heading back next spring and will be sure to visit this area again when I do.

18 thoughts on “Back to California: Sunrise Hike at Indian Cove Campground & Nature Trail (Joshua Tree National Park)

    1. Really!! Oh, how I love the desert. I have no idea why. Maybe somewhere along the way, it got tied in with the symbolism of freedom for me.

      Also, one of these days, when I’m not buried in work, I need to reach out to you for some advice on RV living.

    1. Thank you, Fatima! That’s precisely what I intend to do.

      I’ve heard some debate about whether or not the Andalucía and other dry regions in Spain count as deserts.


  1. I have been enjoying your photos. Thank you. I’m sorry you feel disconnected where you are. That is troubling on a number of levels, but I hope that your period of self-reflection takes you to a more fulfilling place.

    1. Finally catching up with comments! I’ve had a busy work schedule since returning.

      Thank you for reading. I’m glad you’ve been enjoying the photos. 🙂

      In a way, I’m glad for the disconnect. Maybe without it, we wouldn’t feel so motivated to leave.

  2. You captured the beauty of the area very well in your photos. What I found most interesting what’s your last paragraph about how you’re feeling I find that to be an interesting observation on your part and very brave to admit.

    1. Thanks, Buddy! I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. I knew you would understand the beauty of the desert. 🙂

      JT/29 really lived up to all my expectations and exceeded them. I can’t begin to tell you how kind everyone was to me. Did I tell you I got my stupid crossover stuck on a dirt road and perfect strangers towed me out? 😂 The community values and the total lack of feeling “othered” was so refreshing. I could never get used to ATL again after experiencing that.

      It was almost like being back home, but with people who are more up my alley. (Jamaicans aren’t too keen on hiking, climbing, rock music, EDM etc.)

      Yes, it’s tough to admit, but I have to say it. It’s been on my mind all year and being in Cali for the second time only intensified that.

      I hope you’re there next spring!

      1. I’ll be leaving the Hampton Roads area next week and heading back to California. I have my own observations of the people here and their attitudes in the Hampton area. Unfortunately if I share them publicly I’m sure I’ll be labeled racist. Lol. Let’s just say the people here are nothing like the people I find where I live in California, there much better here.

      2. LoL I didn’t spend a lot of time in YV, so I can’t compare. I crossed it off my list after Niche described it as a great place to retire. It also got low marks for housing, public schools and crime and safety. I’m interested to hear why you like the Hamptons though. I’ve never been. Are you considering moving out of Cali?

      3. I don’t really like it here that much. And no I’m not considering moving do the East coast at least. Virginia’s pretty and nice and green but it is the south and it is the East coast both of which I’m not fond of for living. Okay place to visit because of the history but not to live.

      4. Hmmm…. I would say that’s how I feel about Savannah, GA, which I had also considered. But I’m biased because it also reminded me of home. Very chill, laid-back set of people.

        However, everyone I know there says it’s a horrible place to live, for different reasons. Maybe just great for visiting as well.

    1. Thank you! What countries did you visit in the Middle East? That must have been beautiful.

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