|Eric & me, doing the tourist thing in Death Valley|
I typically write about the wildlife, plant life and rock life (geology) I come across, but wanted to set aside a few moments for a behind-the-scenes look at the life of a traveling naturalist: namely, the places we camp along the way, those beautiful little patches of ground where we sleep under the stars.
As spring begins to unfold in California's desert regions, I will be writing quite a bit about our desert adventures of 2016. I'm also looking forward to a return trip to Death Valley this February.
Last spring, we loaded up our little car and embarked on a week-long camping trip in the Mojave desert to experience the "Superbloom" in Death Valley and the even more stunning "regular bloom" in Joshua Tree National Park. In between the two National Parks, we spent one night in the vastly underrated Mojave National Preserve at Hole-in-the-Wall campground.
A rather inauspicious name, granted, but it is an incredibly beautiful campground nonetheless. Set against a stunning backdrop of sculpted cliffs of volcanic tuff, the eroded holes in this wall of rock gave the campground its name. Hole-in-the-Wall sits underneath an endless sky, overlooking a desert expanse of mesas and yuccas.
Visit in the spring, and you will be treated to an unforgettable wildflower display. A path between the campground and visitors' center highlights local flora with plant labels along the trail, for all those botany enthusiasts out there, like me!
A base camp at Hole-in-the-Wall gives wilderness enthusiasts access to Mojave National Preserve's many attractions, from Joshua Tree forests to the Kelso Dunes. The campground is situated near the trailhead for the Rings Trail through Banshee Canyon - an absolute must-do hike. Don't skimp on the warm clothes, though: when we visited at the end of March, we experienced a surprise desert snow flurry, followed by a very cold rain and a fair amount of wind! Thankfully, we were prepared!
35 campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, for $12 per night. The campground has vault toilets and potable water, and each site has a fire ring and picnic table. Visit the National Park Service's website to learn more.