Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pioneertown~Yucca Valley, CA~Joshua Tree National Park

We love RV’ing and seeing the local sights and learning all we can about the places we visit. There are so many gems out there and we try to see as many as we can during our stay. We headed out on a very overcast day to see Pioneertown, an old movie set up near Yucca Valley, CA and for a drive through Joshua Tree National Park, all just up Hwy 62 from Desert Hot Springs, CA. We did not see any snow on this day but there was a snowfall within a couple of days of our visit.

Main street in Pioneertown, CA

Pioneertown, CA was founded near Yucca Valley, CA in 1946 by several Hollywood personalities as a permanent 1880’s town for film making. Roy Rogers broke ground with the help of the Sons of the Pioneers, from whom the town’s name was taken.

Storefronts in Pioneertown, CA

Over 200 tv series and movies were filmed here as well as being the backdrop for several films. Many buildings on Pioneertown’s Main Street were built to be used as homes for the actors while filming here and are still used as homes today.

Pioneertown Post Office
This Pioneertown post office is said to be one the most photographed in the U.S. There are 350 permanent residents in Pioneertown and surrounding area, so this is their official post office.
Pioneertown Church

The history of Pioneertown, CA is very colorful and Constance Walsh wrote a great page on it that is fun to read and learn about the ‘old days’ there.

Rocky formations on hills

The drive to Pioneertown, northwest of Yucca Valley is a winding scenic 6km (4mi) drive off California State Route 62 and has been designated a California Scenic Drive. Although the Sawtooth Complex Fire raged thru this area causing lots of damage in 2006, the rock formations are incredible to see. Pictures do not do it justice.

Climbing rocks in Joshua Tree Park

Joshua Tree Park is part of the Mojave Desert (elev. 900’ to 5000’ (275 – 1524 M). and is north of Desert Hot Springs, CA. We planned on visiting the park with friends who had never seen it before. As luck would have it, we had the rain to contend with so that meant our sightseeing was done from inside the truck but the sights were still breathtaking ! We will get back for the blue sky normally seen in Joshua Tree Park, but these huge rocks were all shiny and clean for this visit, which makes for some great sights, too.

Joshua tree

Legend has it that the Joshua tree was named by the early Mormons who travelled through these deserts many years ago. They named the trees after the prophet Joshua because they appeared to have outstretched arms guiding them on their travels.

The Joshua tree will grow up to 40’ in its lifetime. They show no growth rings like other trees but they grow about ½” per year so their age can be determined that way. They do not branch until after they bloom and don’t bloom every year. The Joshua tree, a yucca brevolia is of the giant lily family and their large cream-colored blooms are said to be spectacular in February.

Field of cholla cacti

One of the predominant of the desert cacti is cholla cactus but there are over 700 species of vascular plants and we hope to find some blooming cactus if we time our next visit right. Wildflowers usually begin with the Joshua tree blooms in February, then the lower elevations colorful annuals are out in March. It is usually April or May before the cacti bloom, though.
There are over half a million acres to the Joshua Tree Park and paved roads wind around the large rocks, which on a sunny day will usually have climbers working their way up their rock faces. There are several picnic areas and also some locations are available for overnight camping. Birdwatching, horseback riding and hiking on some of their many trails are all good reasons to visit Joshua Tree park. (clik on park name to see more).

1 comment:

  1. Good Morning Sheila,

    Thank you for sharing this. You have such a great eye and capture the beauty and wonders all around. Loved this trip!




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