Tag Archives: Wonderland of Rocks

June 11, 2018 Hiking Clouds Rest in Yosemite National Park.

The 12 Best Uncrowded National Park Dayhikes

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By Michael Lanza

The best-known dayhikes in America’s national parks are certainly worth adding to your outdoor-adventure CV. Summits and hiking trails like Angels Landing in Zion, Half Dome in Yosemite, the North Rim Trail overlooking the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, Glacier National Park’s Highline Trail, and many others represent the highlights of the crown jewels of the National Park System. But for that very reason, unless you take those hikes outside the peak seasons or times of day, you can expect to encounter a lot of other hikers.

But there are other national park dayhikes that remain off the radar of many hikers—so they attract a small fraction of the number of people flocking to the popular trails. On these 12 hikes, you’ll find scenery just as majestic as those famous trails, while possibly having these spots to yourself (as I did on several of them). Continue reading →

October 24, 2016 The Wonderland of Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park.

Photo Gallery: Exploring Joshua Tree National Park

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By Michael Lanza

In the Southern California desert, where the Mojave and Colorado-Sonoran deserts overlap amid a sea of hundreds of granite monoliths, lies one of America’s most unusual outdoor playgrounds: Joshua Tree National Park. Long known as a mecca for rock climbers, with some 8,000 established climbing routes, the park also has miles of trails for hiking, running, and horseback riding, beautiful camping among rock formations where kids can scramble around, and a vast backcountry to explore within its nearly 800,000 acres, more than half of which is protected as wilderness. Continue reading →

February 1, 2016 Hiking in the Wonderland of Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park.

Facing the Biggest Challenge: Friendship and Climbing in Joshua Tree

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By Michael Lanza

A dry, invisible waterfall of heat pours from the desert sky as we follow a footpath through the Wonderland of Rocks, a vast archipelago of granite monoliths and spires floating in an ocean of sand in the backcountry of southern California’s Joshua Tree National Park. My friend David and I are in search of one particular crack in one specific stone skyscraper, which feels a little like picking through hundreds of haystacks scattered across a farm in pursuit of one needle.

We high-step through gardens of prickly-pear cacti and other vegetation that has evolved to put a hurt on you for the easy mistake of brushing against it. I pause frequently to consult photos of some of these granite monoliths in my guidebook to help pinpoint our location. I also contemplate—as seems to happen whenever I head out rock climbing for the first time in a while—the complicated human relationship with fear. There’s the natural anxiousness that can accompany trying to claw your way up a sheer cliff. But fear and its antipode, courage, take many forms. One can be so difficult to confront that it destroys lives. The other can save them. Continue reading →