Our first off-grid experience at Joshua Tree National Park far exceeded our expectations. We had a beautiful campsite, our off-grid upgrades performed well and the Mojave desert scenery was breathtaking.
Our plan was to arrive early on Monday after all the weekend campers cleared and snag a spot in one of the non-reservable sites. Joshua Tree was designated a National Park in 1994 and for many years attracted less than a million visitors annually but the word is out and it’s become quite popular with more than 2.5 million visitors every year. Camping spots are at a premium, so when we found a site tucked behind a big boulder with lots of privacy we grabbed it. The site was perfect…except we didn’t realize that a popular hiking trail passed 20 feet behind our camper. After we pulled in and before we even had time to register, there was a frenzy of people requesting a tour of the camper. We spent our first two hours in the park talking and answering questions about the Vistabule. (Hey, Bert Taylor..we distributed more than two dozen information cards!). It was nice to share the camper and we enjoyed the interaction with fellow camping enthusiasts.
There is no water, electricity or internet at the campground. This means we had to carry in our water and put the solar panels to work. Our new propane stove passed the test and provided lots of meals as well as hot water for our french press. We set up the solar panel and with daily sun, the battery was easily recharged…enough to keep up with the demand of the refrigerator and lights. As for internet, we discovered the only place for connectivity was at the top of a mountain. We hiked up three mountains and sporadically checked in with our kids and family. It’s amazing how much reading we did without distractions from Facebook, and other internet opportunities.
Hiking was spectacular. There are any number of options in Joshua Tree. We enjoyed the mountain climbing treks which allow for amazing panoramic views. The area is vast and wild with miles never touched by man. Because words cannot describe the landscape, I have added several photos.