Sunday, June 26, 2011

Covington Flat, Joshua Tree National Park

Yesterday my wife and I explored an area in Joshua Tree National Park called Covington Flat.  This area is in the far northwest end of the park and is nice because you don't access it off one of the main (paved) roads in the park or pass through a park entrance.  Probably better know to the locals, although it is clearly marked on the park map.

You access Covington Flat by going south on La Contenta off highway 62.  La Contenta turns to sand and winds through a very nice residential area (old desert homes nestled in the boulders) before entering the park.  You will know you are entering the park when you see this sign:

A little further on, you know you are on the right road when you see this sign.  It's actually pretty hard to get lost on this road!

Just an FYI, 2WD is fine for this area (high clearance preferred).  We only saw two cars the entire trip.  One was a park ranger.  My wife and I were stopped on the side of the road checking a map, and he pulled over and said "you look lost!"  He said we might want to check out Eureka Peak, which turned out to be a great suggestion.  We also saw a pick-up truck that pulled up when we had reached the peak.  They quickly left.

It's a pretty drive, with a slow, steady increase in elevation.  To your left (east), you will notice many burned Joshua trees from a fire started by lightning about 10 years ago, while things look surprisingly green and lush to your right.
Joshua Tree skeleton in Covington Flat
I wasn't tracking mileage (sorry), but perhaps after about 6 miles or so, you will see this sign, which should reassure you that you are, in fact, on the right road!

The road continues to gently climb.  By now, we are noticing the cooler temps (was triple digits when we left 29 Palms, and about 85-90 now), plants in bloom, and some pinion pines.
Lots of purple flowers along the road... beautiful!

This lizard actually cooperated and let me take his picture... usually I'm not so lucky!

We finally reached Eureka Peak, and the name is appropriate.  Outstanding views in almost every direction.  I think the views at Eureka Peak (5518' elevation) are comparable to Keys Lookout (at 5185'), and a lot less crowded!  The road ends in an area with enough room for parking.  We pulled out the cooler and ate lunch.  The peak is a short hike (1/2 mile or less) to the next peak over, and wow, what a view!

Southwest View

Hang on to your hat... it's windy up here!!!

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