Joshua Tree National Park is finally open to visitors after being closed since April 1, 2020 because of coronavirus precautions, and everything is in bloom.
“What do you think about this park?” I ask a mother and daughter visiting from Huntington Beach.
“So beautiful,” says Hannah Szabo.
“It is so beautiful,” adds mom Kelly Szabo adding they’re thrilled to see the Joshua trees.
For a moment Kelly says she’s forgotten about the troubles of the world, “Absolutely breathtaking out here, the peace, the birds, I mean you can hear them right now, I mean there’s just nothing like this.”
Park superintendent David Smith says they expect a busy Memorial Day weekend.
“We’re really excited we’ve able to open up the park,” he says adding COVID-19 guidelines like social distancing still apply here and they’re taking other measures too, “a lot of our trails are one way trails right now they’re no longer two way loops we’re doing that so that folks will potentially touch each other on those trails …. camping is limited to families or households that you typically would be hanging out with during the time of COVID.”
The reservation desk is closed so campsites are first come first serve, limited to six people, the group campgrounds are still closed and while the bathrooms are open there is no water or sanitizing gel. You must bring your own everything and take it with you when you go. Smith says nights get cold so take warm clothing and warm blankets.
Smith also says you must bring in your own firewood and may not collect it from the park and when you’re done with your fire make sure it’s completely out.
And be extra careful driving and hiking, with no visitors for weeks critters are abundant.
“Increased numbers of tortoises on the road, lots of snakes, and most exciting a whole bunch of big horn sheep in campgrounds we’ve never seen big horn sheep hanging out before so the one silver lining of the last two months has been an opportunity for wildlife to have run of the park again.” says Smith.
So go enjoy the more than one million Joshua trees nestled on nearly 800 thousand acres but respect each other and the wildlife.
“This is your park and it’s your responsibility to take care of this park,” says Smith.
Smith says they may start charging park fees this weekend but may only take credit card because of COVID-19 precautions so go prepared with cash and debit or credit cards. Admission is $30 per car and that does not include camping sites. Camping site fees vary.
For more information click here: JTNP