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Hiking the High Desert: Joshua Tree National Park

Program Number: 20819RJ
Start and End Dates:
11/15/2013 - 11/20/2013; 11/11/2014 - 11/16/2014; 3/1/2015 - 3/6/2015; 3/15/2015 - 3/20/2015; 3/20/2015 - 3/25/2015;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Joshua Tree National Park, California
Price starting at: $945.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Walking/Hiking; National Parks Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 13; 5 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Hiking in Joshua Tree National Park and the desert surrounding Palm Springs is an opportunity not to be missed. Famous for the other-worldly Joshua Tree and geologic formations that attract elite rock climbers, the park is a desert lover’s paradise where the Sonoran and Mojave deserts meet. In the Palm Springs area hike to palm oases where water brings abundance and has created the largest density of California palm trees in the world. Ride the thrilling Palm Springs Aerial Tram for sweeping views of the Coachella Valley, the San Andreas fault zone and distant desert peaks.




Highlights

• Experienced naturalist guides reveal amazing adaptations for survival of the wildlife, vegetation and pioneers who have tested their mettle in this landscape.
• Explore the granitic maze known as the “Wonderland of Rocks.”
• In the Palm Springs area hike the Agua Caliente Tribe's "Indian Canyons" and explore San Jacinto State Park accessed by the aerial tramway.



Activity Particulars

Hiking up to six and a half miles, on established rocky trails, dirt paths, dry stream beds, boulders, desert vegetation and uneven terrain. Elevation changes of 500–1,000 feet, seasonal shallow stream crossing possible. Come prepared for a physically active program as we will be hiking on four full days. To prepare for hiking every day, participants should be involved in regular physical activity such as hiking, biking, swimming or other aerobic activity. We will hike as one group throughout the week with a hike leader and a sweep. Weather and temperature extremes may be encountered during the week and may result in changes to hiking locations and distances.




Date Specific Information

11-15-2013

This program will have a special addition. Weather permitting, we will be taking the Palm Springs Aerial Tram up into the majestic San Jacinto mountains (8,500`) to enjoy hiking the Pine covered trails of Long and Round Valley`s. This excursion will provide stunning views of the desert below and provide a striking contrast to the desert hiking we do on the other days. This excursion will replace one of the Palm Springs area hikes.



3-1-2015

This date is a special charter program with the Oakland Museum. There will be a few adjustments to the program including the addition of a guided visit to the Palm Springs Living Desert Museum as well as an additional hike in the Coachella Preserve. We will spend one full day in Joshua Tree National Park instead of two. The activity level will go from Moderately Challenging to Active.



Coordinated by Northern Arizona University.




Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree comprises nearly 800,000 acres of California’s most interesting geology arranged in a stark, wind-shaped landscape that gives way to the colors of desert vegetation with the unpredictable arrival of rain and moderate weather. Two desert ecosystems meet here, including the Mojave, habitat for the strange tree for which the park is named.



Accommodations
Resort and spa with eight swimming pools fed by hot springs mineral water.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Bruce Banker

Bruce Banker is a graduate of Northern Arizona University, where he studied natural sciences and geology. He lives in Flagstaff and has worked for the National Park Service as a naturalist on the north rim of the Grand Canyon, Chaco Canyon National Historic Park and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Bruce also serves as an outdoor educator for the Grand Canyon Field Institute. Bruce has taken students to many of the far-flung corners of the Southwest and has a few good stories to share.
 
Richard Stephens

Rich has been director of Northern Arizona University’s highly popular Road Scholar programs since 2001. He previously spent many years in the field as a program coordinator and group leader, where he honed his skills and learned the importance of detailed, pre-trip planning. Before making his home in Arizona’s spectacular red-rock country, Rich spent 10 years in Yosemite National Park and the Santa Cruz mountains as an environmental educator.
 
Stewart Lasseter

After completing studies in geo-science, natural history and Spanish at the University of Arizona, Stewart Lasseter studied as the protege of a Native American healer, learning from her practices of wholeness, kinesiology, mind-body medicine and dyslexia correction. He has years of experience bringing groups in touch with the natural world, and has completed post-graduate studies in health sciences at Prescott College.
 
Meals and Lodgings
   Miracle Springs Resort & Spa
  Desert Hot Springs, CA 5 nights
 Miracle Springs Resort & Spa
Type: Resort
  Description: Eight pools are scattered around the property. The largest is kept at about 80 degrees. The smaller pools bubble and percolated at about 104 soothing degrees. All of the pools are fed directly from the mineral waters of Desert Hot Springs.
  Contact info: 10625 Palm Dr
Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240 USA
phone: 760-251-6000
web: www.miraclesprings.com
  Room amenities: Coffee/tea maker, hairdryer, iron and ironing board, microwave, refrigerator, telephone, and TV.
  Facility amenities: A variety of massages, facials, body therapies and spa treatments in addition to the mineral water hot springs. Free WiFi.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Check in time: 4:00 PM
  Check out time: 11:00 AM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Sponsored by Northern Arizona University. On site program registration in the hotel meeting room between 4:30 - 5:15 PM. You will be staying at Miracle Springs Resort & Spa that night.
  End of Program:
Depart program after breakfast and hotel check-out; 8:30 AM. You will be staying at Miracle Springs Resort & Spa the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Parking is free for the duration of the program.
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Desert Hot Springs, CA
  Nearest city or town:  Palm Springs 15 miles south
  Nearest highway: I-10
  Nearest airport:  Palm Springs, CA
  From End of Program
  Location:  Departures
Travel Details
 

Miracle Hot Springs Resort

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Taxi
Yellow Cab of the Desert
phone: 760-345-8398
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Approx. $40
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

20 minutes 

 

Distance:

 

14 miles

   

Mention you are with the NAU Road Scholar program and receive a 10% discount.

 

Miracle Hot Springs Resort

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Taxi
Airport Taxi
phone: 760-862-9000
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Approx. $42
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

20 minutes 

 

Distance:

 

14 miles

 
Driving Directions
  Miracle Springs Resort From I-10 Westbound Follow I-10 westbound to exit 123. Turn right onto Palm Drive and continue for 6.3 miles. Miracle Springs Resort is on your left.
  Miracle Springs Resort from I-10 Eastbound Follow I-10 eastbound to exit 123. Turn left onto Palm Drive and continue for 6.3 miles. Miracle Hot Springs Resort is on your left.
Elevation Note: 4,500 to 8,500 feet at Joshua Tree National Park and San Jacinto State Park (Top of the Tram).

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Orientation and Introductions
(Friday, November 15)
   
 Afternoon: Check into the Miracle Springs Resort after 3:00 PM. Program registration in hotel meeting room anytime between 4:30 - 5:15 PM.
 Dinner: Dinner will be on site at Miracle Springs Resort. Dinners include fresh garden salad, sides of hot vegetable, rice or potatoes; and a nightly hot entrée including baked fish, mouthwatering roast beef or turkey. Vegetarian option will be available nightly.
 Evening: Introductions and orientation in the hotel meeting room following dinner. Meet your fellow participants and get ready for the fun filled adventure that awaits.
   
Accommodations: Miracle Springs Resort & Spa
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Hike in Joshua Tree National Park
(Saturday, November 16)

Note: Mileage for today's hike will vary (4 - 6.5 miles) depending on the terrain encountered and route taken during the day. The Wonderland of Rocks has few established trails, so much of our hike will be off-trail. There will be some rock scrambling and dry wash walking. With explicit instructions and with assistance and advice your hike leaders will guide the group through any rocky areas.



   
 Breakfast: Enjoy breakfast at the resort which includes a daily egg dish selections (for protein), potatoes and breakfast meat, oatmeal, toast and a selection of fresh fruit and juices and coffee.
 Morning: Today we head into Joshua Tree National Park for a hike into the parks "Wonderland of Rocks" maze of granitic outcrops. Spectacular is the only way to put it as we pass through all of the scenery that Joshua Tree National Park is known for, not only the famous yucca that the park is named after, but endless beautifully sculptured granite boulders and long desert vistas. Today's hike will be a great introduction to the park as we go off the beaten path. Walk through a forest of the other-worldy Joshua Tree, marvel at the diversity of the parks cacti, hike around towering mountains of jumbled granite outcrops, and search for the perfect combination where it comes together in an oasis of bounty.
 Lunch: Sack lunches along the trail.
 Afternoon: Continue hike, return to Miracle Springs in late afternoon. There will some sustained portions of the hike in sandy washes.
 Dinner: Dinner will be at the Miracle Springs Resort.
 Evening: Evening program on the Geology, Human History or Natural History of the area.
   
Accommodations: Miracle Springs Resort & Spa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Hiking in the "Indian Canyons" - Palm Canyon
(Sunday, November 17)

Note: Today's hike will be on established trails. Elevation change of approximately 400 feet. Mileage between 5 - 6.5 miles.



   
 Breakfast: Enjoy breakfast at the resort which includes a daily egg dish selections (for protein), potatoes and breakfast meat, oatmeal, toast and a selection of fresh fruit and juices and coffee.
 Morning: After breakfast, we depart for a hike into the Agua Caliente "Indian Canyons" just a couple of miles south of downtown Palm Springs. The highlight of the Indian Canyons is "Palm Canyon", where the largest oasis in the world of the California Palm tree is found. Palm Canyon is quite magnificent. It is cool and mostly shady, filled with fan palms of all sizes next to a stream which still has pools and springs in mid summer. Other plants are found here, including reeds around the water, and willow & cottonwood trees on the slopes, though the palms dominate. Some small groups grow higher up the hillsides or along short side canyons, where underground water is available.
 Lunch: Sack lunches along the trail.
 Afternoon: Continue our hike.
 Dinner: Dinner will be at a local Mexican restaurant.
 Evening: Evening program on the Geology, Human History or Natural History of the area.
   
Accommodations: Miracle Springs Resort & Spa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Hike Joshua Tree National Park
(Monday, November 18)

Note: Mileage for today's hike will vary (4 - 6.5 miles) depending on the terrain encountered and route taken during the day. The National Park has few established trails, so much of our hike will be off-trail. There will be some rock scrambling and dry wash walking. With explicit instructions and with assistance and advice your hike leaders will guide the group through any rocky areas.



   
 Breakfast: Enjoy a breakfast buffet at the resort which includes selections such as egg/croissant sandwich, waffles, oatmeal and a selection of cold cereal, fresh fruit and juices and coffee.
 Morning: Today we head back to Joshua Tree National Park. The park encompasses 880,000 acres so there are plenty of areas to hike and explore. Destinations may include Queen Mountain, Lost Horse Mine trail, Pine City, Ryan Mountain or Lost Palms Oasis to name a few. The terrain encountered includes outcrops of granitic boulders rising from an undulating landscape of ridges, plateaus, small canyons and rocky washes; between the rocks the ground is covered by coarse whitish sand through which cacti, bushes and wildflowers grow. In spring, the dry washes are especially pretty as flowers grow in the smooth white sandy stream beds and intermingled with flowering red chuparosa and brittlebush.
 Lunch: Sack lunches along the way.
 Afternoon: Continue our hike.
 Dinner: Dinner will be at the restaurant on site at Miracle Springs Resort
 Evening: Evening program on the Geology, Human History or Natural History of the area.
   
Accommodations: Miracle Springs Resort & Spa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Hiking in Mt. Jacinto State Park, via the Palm Springs Aerial Tram
(Tuesday, November 19)

Note: Mileage for today's hike will depend on the weather conditions at high elevations. If the trails are clear we will hike on established tails through an alpine forest. If the trails are snow covered then we will spend less time hiking at altitude and will include a lower elevation desert hike for the day.



   
 Breakfast: Enjoy a breakfast buffet at the resort which includes selections such as egg/croissant sandwich, waffles, oatmeal and a selection of cold cereal, fresh fruit and juices and coffee.
 Morning: Today we access our trail head via the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Once aboard the World’s Largest Rotating Tramcar, you will experience a breathtaking journey up the sheer cliffs of Chino Canyon. Begin the 10 minute ride at the Valley Station – elevation 2,643 ft. and end at the Mountain Station – elevation 8,516 ft. Once we depart the tram we will explore the pine clad environs of Mt. San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness area. Hiking of approximately 5 miles in mostly rolling terrain.
 Lunch: Sack lunches along the trail.
 Afternoon: Continue our hike, exploring Long and Round Valley's before returning to the canyon floor below via the Tram, returning to hotel in the afternoon. NOTE: As we will be at a high elevation, should inclement weather be in the forecast we will switch today's hike to lower elevation.
 Dinner: Tonight we will take participants to festive Palm Springs for a dinner on your own. We will make numerous suggestions in various price ranges -- something to suit all tastes! There should also be some time to walk Palm Springs' main street.
 Evening: Return to hotel by ~8:00 PM.
   
Accommodations: Miracle Springs Resort & Spa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 6: Departures after breakfast
(Wednesday, November 20)
   
 Breakfast: Enjoy a breakfast buffet at the resort which includes selections such as egg/croissant sandwich, waffles, oatmeal and a selection of cold cereal, fresh fruit and juices and coffee.
 Morning: Departures after breakfast. The NAU Road Scholar van will depart at approximately 8:30 AM for any participants that want a free shuttle to the airport. For those that want to get to the airport prior to that or later, taxi service is available.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


Palm Springs: The Landscape, the History, the Lore


Author: Churchwell, Mary Jo


Description: Mary Jo Churchwell depicts the desert community of Palm Springs over the last 150 years, reveling in eccentric anecdotes and inspiring landscapes. With equal doses of history, nature and personal reflection.



Joshua Tree: The Complete Guide: Joshua Tree National Park


Author: Kaiser, James


Description: Stunning photographs showcase the wondrous landscape of Joshua Tree National Park in this unique guidebook. Joshua Tree National Park is a desert getaway that boasts some of the most dramatic and unexpected scenery in the Southwest. This edition features updated information, as well as a newly expanded section on the geology of the park. Fascinating chapters discuss the park's history, geology, and wildlife along with a guide to desert wildflowers and maps of more than 20 of the best hikes in the park. An indispensable guide for outdoor enthusiasts, rock climbers, and vacationing families on a budget, this beautiful guidebook will enhance any traveler's collection.



A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert


Author: Patricia Wentworth Comus (Editor)


Description: "Once in a generation, a guide to understanding a major North American landscape comes along. This book is such a touchstone, sure to become a classic. The emphasis here is on biodiversity, mutualism, co-evolution, and, especially, ethno-relationships—the long history of connection between desert peoples and their homeland, on both sides of the border.



Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis


Author: Glennon, Robert


Description: In the middle of the Mojave Desert, Las Vegas casinos use billions of gallons of water for fountains, pirate lagoons, wave machines, and indoor canals. Meanwhile, the town of Orme, Tennessee, must truck in water from Alabama because it has literally run out. Robert Glennon captures the irony—and tragedy—of America’s water crisis in a book that is both frightening and wickedly comical. Unquenchable reveals the heady extravagances and everyday inefficiencies that are sucking the nation dry.





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