Lost Palms Oasis Trail, Joshua Tree National Park, CA
With its eponymous cartoon-like tree and piles of jungle-gym boulders, Joshua Tree National Park is quite possibly the most striking desert landscape in the world. While the masses flock to the northern half of the park, touring its roadside highlights from their cars, those in-the-know park up at Cottonwood Campground near the southern entrance and set out on the Lost Palms Oasis Trail. Just a few hundred feet into the hike, you’ll have a much truer sense of how isolated and alive this high desert really is. It’s only 3.5 miles and a few hundred feet of elevation gain to the oasis overlook, yet it feels very remote as you hike over rocks and through sandy washes. If you have energy to burn, add a mile and some hands-on hiking to tag the summit of 3,340-foot Mastodon Peak.
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