Joshua tree is a place I feel everyone should visit before they leave this world. Amazing climate, fabulous vistas and so much fun for the kids! I hadn't reserved a spot because I was kinda winging some parts of the trip. When you over-plan, you don't leave space for spontaneity and the trip doesn't evolve in an organic fashion. We couldn't get a campsite so we went for backcountry. The ranger at the main entrance (there are two entrances) clearly thought it was nuts for a pregnant lady, two young kids and two seniors to venture out into the desert but I was pretty confident that with the number of people camping and hiking in the area that weekend, we'd never be far from help! There are 3 main camp areas, and they each have their own special character!
Jumbo Rocks Back Country
We drove a moderately off-road-ish path to the trailhead where two scruffy looking guys pulling big tupperware totes and huge backpacks were just coming off the trail. Dani of course flounced up to them in her little camper back pack and announced that we were going to spend a few nights in the back country. The guys eyed our comparatively well-groomed crew and looked amused. But not half as amused as they were when I pulled out the sled we had purchased at the white sands to pull some of our supplies! If you are going to Joshua Tree, definitely hit the back country. The hike out is easy enough for a 3 year old and you can always make an extra hiking trip back to the car for more supplies if need be. IT's just a well marked and yet beautiful trail. It was quiet and blissful and the kids had the run of the desert!