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Joshua Tree National Park, CA

Mar 6 - Mar 13, 2016 -- $1300 ★★

Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California features a desert landscape who's signature plant is the rare and beautiful Joshua Tree. The park boasts unique geological formations such as granite monoliths and rugged canyons, plus a variety of wildlife including bighorn sheep, jackrabbits, and coyotes. March is a great time to escape from your frigid climate and explore the Mojave desert.

Our route will begin near the Oasis entrance on the North part of the Park. We'll hike on the California Riding & Hiking Trail for a few days hiking over 2/3 of the trail. We'll then hike over to beautiful Covington Crest for a view of Palm Springs at night. Finally, we'll head down Smith Water Canyon a true highlight of the trip, eventually ending our hike at Quail Springs Picnic area.

Much of the trail will be rugged, exposed to the sun, and poorly marked, requiring off trail navigation with a map, compass, and GPS. At many of our campsites, there will be bouldering opportunities for you to climb up various rock formations. There are rocks to climb for every ability level or you may not want to climb any rocks at all. Expect this to be a true adventure!


Weather is always an important concern when backpacking. Expect a warm respite from your end-of-winter blues. Historical March weather averages 60s and 70s during the day, which is perfect for backpacking, although we might also experience blazing heat during the day. or frost at night. Expect 30s and 40s at night although on the 2009 trip, it did get down to the low 20s so be prepared for weather extremes.

Trip Leaders

Steve Silberberg
Rick Romine


$1300 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a hotel room with another trip participant. You will also be responsible for transportation to and from Palm Springs, CA (PSP) as well as personal equipment, and any restaurant meals.

Covered expenses include 2 nights in a hotel, 6 days of trail meals, ground transportation, permits, fees and awesome guides.

Important Note

Water is scarce in this region and we must cache it ahead of time. Be prepared to carry as much as 2 gallons (16 pounds) of water in your pack. Even if we find surface water, the park prohibits us from using it, as it is to be left for the animals and plants.

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Guides for this trip
Important Note
Difficulty (Please Read)
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Sunday, March 6, 2016

Fly or drive into Palm Springs, CA (PSP)

We will pick you up at the airport and drive you to Caliente Tropics Hotel, 411 E Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA, 92264, 760-327-1391.

Equipment shakedown

Before body composition measurements taken

Trail mix distribution

Buy common last minute and forgotten items in Palm Springs. Specialized backpacking equipment will be obtained tomorrow.

Go out for dinner in town. Dinner not included in trip cost.

Monday, March 7, 2016

2nd set of before body composition measurements taken

Breakfast at local restaurant (Not included in trip cost)

Store all items you won't bring on the trail at either the hotel or a storage unit

Drive to 29 Palms

Buy last minute and forgotten items at Joshua Tree Outfitters.

Shuttle to Boy Scout Trail trailhead and spot a car here

Drive to Oasis North Entrance Station, park at Oasis Backcountry Board

Begin hiking at Oasis Backcountry Board, elevation 2900'

Hike 4.7 miles on the California Riding & Hiking Trail (CR&HT) to Park Blvd, elevation 3100'

Hike 1.3 uphill miles on the CR&HT to Belle Campsite, elevation 3800'

Camp at Belle Campsite, elevation 3800'. There will be water here for the next few days that we cached earlier.

Mileage Today: 6.0. Total mileage: 6.0

Possible bailout: Park Road

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Hike 1.1 miles on the CR&HT to Pinto Basin Rd, elevation 3900'

Hike 4.3 miles on the CR&HT to Geology Tour Rd., elevation 4493'

Hike about 3.4 miles on the CR&HT to an old mining camp, elevation 4300'

Camp at old mining camp, elevation 4300'. No water here.

Mileage Today: 8.8. Total mileage: 14.8

Possible bailout: Pinto Basin Road or Geology Tour Rd.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Hike 2.3 miles on the CR&HT to Ryan Campground, elevation 4300'

Pick up cached water here

Hike 0.7 miles on the CR&HT to Keys View Rd, elevation 4342'

Hike 1.5 miles on the CR&HT to Stubbe Springs Trail Intersection, elevation 4500'

Hike 2.2 miles on the CR&HT to Stubbe Springs Trail Intersection (different intersection), elevation 4500'

Dispersed camp at unmarked campsite practicing Leave No Trace, elevation 4500'

Mileage Today: 6.7. Total mileage: 21.5

Possible bailout: Keys View Rd.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Hike 5.4 miles on California Riding & Hiking Trail, elevation 4700'

Hike 1.4 miles to the Upper Covington Backcountry Board, elevation 4820'

Water is cached here

Hike 2.9 miles to Covington Crest, elevation 5000'

Dispersed camp at Covington Crest practicing Leave No Trace with sweeping views towards Palm Springs, elevation 5000'

Mileage Today: 9.7. Total mileage: 31.2

Possible bailout: Upper Covington Rd.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Hike 2.9 miles to Covington Flat Backcountry Board via old road at 33°59'27.82"N 116°17'40.04"W, elevation 4820'

Hike 1.5 miles down a wash to Lower Covington Flat Road extension (dirt), elevation 4600'

Hike 3.0 scenic and time consuming miles through Smith Water Canyon, elevation 3700'

There is a steep 20' rocky dropoff where we may need to lower each other and/or our packs using a rope.

Possible pools of water in Smith Water Canyon are not for our consumption

Hike 0.5 miles to West Entrance Wash, elevation 3700'

Hike 1.9 miles up Quail Wash to Johnnie Connector trail and camp there, elevation 3700'

A usually reliable water pump is here [ususally reliable is a meaningless phrase]

Mileage Today: 9.8. Total mileage: 41.0

Possible bailout: Lower Covington Rd., Park Boulevard

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Hike 2.2 miles up to Ryan Canyon, elevation 4200'

Hike 2.3 miles to Quail Springs Picnic Area, Park Boulevard, elevation 4000'

Mileage Today: 4.5. Total mileage: 45.5

Possible bailout: Park Road.

Shuttle back to Oasis Entrance to pick up other vehicle

Drive back to Palm Springs

Check into Aqua Soleil Hotel & Mineral Water Spa, 14500 Palm Drive, Desert Hot Springs, CA, 92240, 760-329-4481

"After" measurements taken

Dinner in town (cost not included in trip cost)

Awards Ceremony

This is the official end of the trip. You are welcome to spend the night at the hotel, however if you drove and would like to get on the road or if you flew and would like to schedule a late flight (or a red-eye if this is a West Coast trip) you can definitely do so.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Check out of Hotel

We will drop you at the airport

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