Double-Up in the Duck!

We spent just over two weeks bouldering in Joshua Tree National Park. As for our stint in Bishop, we’re providing a little break-down of our stay in the area – what we did, what we ate, where we stayed, etc.

Time frame:

March 3rd – 18th, 2015

Where to stay:

  • Walmart Supercenter parking lot (Yucca Valley): Other than two nights spent in Riverside, CA, we made this parking lot our home for our entire stay. There was quite a collection of RV’s staying throughout our time here, all tending to congregate together! Maybe it’s a comfort thing, safety in numbers perhaps, and being surrounded with your own?
  • Black Rock Canyon Campground: This is one of the three campgrounds in Joshua Tree that has water and RV dumping (no electrical hook-up). The price was $15/night. We didn’t spend any nights here, but we did use the dump facilities. For only $5/visit, it was a good deal! There are many other campgrounds in the National Park, most for $10/night. There is no water, or power, or cell reception in the park, so it was as easy for us to drive back to Yucca Valley in the evenings.

Where to shop:

  • Vons (aka Safeway): We did A LOT of searching for smaller, independent stores but didn’t find much (no butchers, few bakeries, etc in JT/YV), but this was the next best thing and where we shopped for organic meat and produce.
  • Walmart: Avoiding the junk food/goods, the Super Centers do have the best prices for various brand items! We bought household goods here (garbage bags, sunscreen, etc) and some food.
  • Joshua Tree Farmers Market: The Farmer’s Market (Saturdays, 8am – 1pm) was a great source of local produce and food. Things we could never buy at a Vancouver Farmer’s Market? Avocados and citrus fruit! The local strawberries were in season, and we couldn’t help ourselves… more than once!

Where to eat:

Ummmm…. To be honest, we found Joshua Tree / Yucca Valley pretty limited for places that we actually wanted to eat at…

  • Natural Sisters Cafe: We had a few of their sweet treats (muffin, cookie), which were very good. They actually had a really good-looking menu selection (organic, vegan, local, etc) and it was always quite busy whenever we walked by, perhaps a bit of a tourist trap? Jonty wants to go back to try the carrot cake 🙂
  • Crossroads Cafe: The day we were going to try this place, it was closed unfortunately. But the menu looked reasonable, and peering through the windows, it always looked busy, and online reviews were favourable. Next time!
  • Joshua Tree Farmer’s Market: The cheese stand had fantastic cheese, and the bread stand was superb! With all the other fresh produce, you could get everything you needed to make a great meal. Thoroughly recommended! | Countryside, Joshua Tree CA
Where to shower:

  • Coyote Corner: This little store has two showers at the back, the “Duck” and the “Moon”, costing $4 for 7.5 minutes. On the first day, we both bought a shower token, with one of us in the Duck, and one in the Moon. However, we quickly discovered that the shower timer has a generous 7.5 minutes, and both of us could get cleaned up in that time. From then on, we shared a single shower room (thus, more like $2/person/shower). If you use these facilities, make sure to ask for the key for the Duck – that bathroom is MUCH bigger than the Moon, easy to double-up and share in there 🙂

Where to drink:

  • Joshua Tree Coffee Co: This roasting company just opened in October 2014, but they seem to have a good following already. They don’t sell any food, just make coffee, really good coffee. We had our first pour-over coffee there (tasty!) and went through two bags of their beans.
  • Ma Rouge Coffee House: This cafe had decent coffee, homemade food (the quiche looked really good…), and a nice atmosphere. On Sunday afternoons, there is live music, which may or may not be your thing.
  • Joshua Tree Saloon: Your typical small-town bar, complete with food served on red-checkered grease paper. We had one beer.

Where to recycle:

  • So, we found the same thing in JTree as in Bishop – there are many recycle bins around town for plastic bottles, aluminum and glass, but still no paper! What gives, California!?? This time, we couldn’t even find a local place to take the paper (we’re still carrying it around). We’ll find a recycling place eventually!

Where to fill-up and dump:

  • Black Rock Canyon Campground was the closest place – RV dump and water fill for $5. Good deal! | Countryside, Joshua Tree CA
Where to cycle:

  • As we said in a previous post, the cycling was just okay in Joshua Tree. We made up routes that took us up to Black Rock Canyon Campground, down around Ma Rouge cafe, and around by some golf courses. It’s just a matter of googling for streets that look reasonably quiet.

Where to get beta:

  • Nomad Ventures: This place has everything you’ll need, from books to gear. | Countryside, Joshua Tree CA

Final thoughts:

Joshua Tree / Yucca Valley was a bit of an odd community. We really enjoyed the climbing (the rock in the desert was quite mesmerizing), but the town felt a bit soulless. Given the population of J-Tree / Yucca Valley (combined) is similar to Squamish, we were expecting a community with the same amenities and atmosphere as there. Unfortunately, the amenities didn’t seem to be there, and the atmosphere didn’t feel that way for us, unlike Bishop.

So, while the climbing was great, I think we were ready to move on after our two weeks there. We will definitely be back in the future, but we’ll know what to expect next time 🙂

Now for some climbing in Hueco Tanks State Park! Texas, here we come!