Drive to Yucca Valley - Joshua Tree, Anza-Borrego, Imperial Valley 2016 - CycleBlaze

Drive to Yucca Valley

Driving distance is 910 miles from my house in Oregon to the start/finish point in Yucca Valley, California. I left home early in the morning on October 29 with the fully assembled bike inside my Toyota Prius.

Going south I took the fastest route, through California's central valley on I-5 and CA 99. The car got only 47 miles per gallon because of strong headwinds.

The weather was cloudy all the time with occasional rain until I crossed the Sierra Nevada into the Mojave desert. No views of Mt. Shasta or the Sierra Nevada.

I made plans to do a hike before the tour assuming I could get there early enough. On October 30 I arrived at the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve trailhead at 2 PM, giving me plenty of daylight for the hike. The preserve is 10 miles southwest of Yucca Valley.

The preserve has 3 major attractions.

First is the very popular Marsh Trail which makes a 0.5 mile loop inside a large spring-fed oasis. Most of the trail is boardwalks under a canopy of trees. Excellent for wildlife-watching.

Second is a group of outer trails that form a 2.4 mile loop in the hills above the oasis. The arid hills are a huge contrast from the green oasis below.

Third is a 4 mile dead-end trail that goes deep into Big Morongo Canyon.

I hiked the inner loop in the oasis, the outer loop in the hills, and 1/3 of the trail into Big Morongo Canyon. 5 miles (8 km) total.

An oasis this size must be fed by large springs, but I never saw water on the surface. The stream bed was dry in the oasis and in the canyon.

Big Morongo Canyon Preserve trailhead.
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The preserve has many trails and excellent signage.
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The 0.5 mile Marsh Trail is mostly boardwalks under a tree canopy. A rare treat in the desert.
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View from the Desert Willow trail looking down on the oasis.
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Yucca Ridge trail high above the oasis.
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Looking down on Big Morongo Canyon from the Yucca Ridge trail. The oasis spills downstream into the canyon.
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Inside Big Morongo Canyon.
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Lone fan palm in the canyon.
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More arid on the West Canyon trail.
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Great momentary sunlight when returning to the oasis on the Mesquite trail.
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The hike was a great introduction to the southern California desert. And it felt great to stretch my legs after driving for 2 days.

The weather was kind of unstable. 75F (24C) and mostly cloudy. The first 2 days of the tour will have clouds and below normal temperatures.

Afterwards I went into Yucca Valley to find a motel that would allow me to park my car during the tour. The first place I asked, a chain motel, said no to parking the car. I eventually got a room at Desert Sky motel after the proprietor accepted my offer to pay $45 extra to park my car for 9 more nights.

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