L.A. Dog Lover's Escapes

Joshua Tree National Park

Although most of this 794,000-acre park is in Riverside County, Twentynine Palms is where you will find the visitors center and some of the gateways to some of the most beautiful areas in the park.

This amazing land, with striking granite formations rising around dramatic desert plants and wildlife. In spring, it becomes a showcase of brilliant wildflowers. The giant Joshua tree plants are in the higher western half, and they're definitely worth a visit.

Dogs can be walked on paved and dirt roads, but not on hiking trails. They're permitted to wander on leash up to 100 yards from the road, and there are plenty of small dirt roads where you'll be far from most traffic. Leashes are the law here, but they're also a very good idea because of critters like mountain lions and bobcats. Dogs sometimes rub up against the prickly plants or try to bit them and end up with a major problem. One last warning: The ground here can get really toasty-sometimes too toasty for your dog's paws. If you wouldn't want to walk barefoot here, neither would your dog. Rangers report several cases of paw pad injury each year because of the hot ground. Come when its cooler and you'll be better off. There's a $10 entrance fee, and if you want to camp without water, you can camp for free. Otherwise, sites are $5 to $10. There are 498 sites available on a first-come, first-served basis. However, the 100 sites at Black Rock Canyon require reservations. Always bring lots of water on your hikes here, and make sure your dog gets her fill. It doesn't usually get nearly as hot as in other parts of the desert, but you don't want to take a chance. From Interstate 10, exit at Highway 62 and drive northeast for about 39 miles to the town of Twentynine Palms. The visitors center is on Utah Trail, just south of the highway about a mile east of town. (760) 367-7511.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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