Hidden Valley showcases some of the Joshua Tree National Park’s best features, thus tends to be one of the busiest spots in the park. We have arrived relatively early, so hope to beat most of the crowds.
The valley has only one narrow entrance (enlarged by a local resident by blasting just prior to the property’s becoming a park), making it the reported hide-out of cattle rustlers.
We follow the path through a jumble of boulders and enter.
There is one other couple there, so we dawdle, leisurely photographing rocks and flowers and Joshua trees until they have disappeared down the path.
It is incredible to have this place all to ourselves, such a gift to be able to quietly absorb it all completely undisturbed. I’m always amazed by how easy it is to escape from the crowd in our national parks. Sometimes you don’t even have to get off the trail!
Eventually we follow the trail around a bend and further into the valley – the valley is bigger and more varied than I expected, with every bend in the trail bringing a new vista.
Our solitude is unexpectedly interrupted when first one small group and then another and then the rest of a full busload of Germans join us on the trail and in the rocks above.
I move off the path and concentrate on a budding yucca, convinced that the whole bunch of them will quickly move past us.
Solitude returns to this part of the valley.
For the rest of our visit the only other humans we see are the rock climbers beginning their ascent of the canyon walls.
However, as we follow the trail back through the narrow opening between the boulders, we meet many people entering the canyon. Apparently our timing was excellent.