Rock Climbing#1 in Best Things To Do in Joshua Tree National Park
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Climbers flock to Joshua Tree from around the world to tackle the literally thousands of routes open to them. There are challenges for all ability levels, with more than 8,000 climbing routes, 2,000 boulder problems and hundreds of natural gaps to choose from. Because Joshua Tree has its own particular set of safety issues, from high temperatures to remote climbing spots, it pays to do your homework first. If you're unfamiliar with the park, you'll want to purchase a climbing guide and hiking map, which are available at park visitor centers and online.
Certified guides can also lead you on climbs and provide a great way to explore in safety. If you do hire a climbing guide, make sure that they are permitted to work in Joshua Tree National Park. Each guide is required to have rock guiding certifications through the Professional Climbing Guides Institute, the American Mountain Guides Association or similar organizations. They are also required to be certified in Wilderness First Aid and CPR and must carry insurance.
A "Climber Coffee" is offered at the Hidden Valley Campground from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday from mid-October through April, where visitors can meet Joshua Tree's climbing ranger and share information with other climbers. Bring your own mug and enjoy a free cup of coffee, tea or hot cocoa. You'll be able to learn about areas closed to climbing, which areas of the park are designated wilderness and ask general questions. For a list of permitted climbing guides, visit the NPS website.
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With some of the darkest nights in Southern California, Joshua Tree National Park offers visitors the chance to see the stars, planets, meteors and even the Milky Way without much in the way of light pollution. On clear nights, you should have no problem viewing the stars from anywhere in the park. That said, surrounding communities do impact Joshua Tree's night skies, so the farther you are from them, the better you'll be able to see.
Visitors can park at any of the roadside pullouts and set up chairs to stargaze. The Pinto Basin Road between the Cholla Cactus Garden and Cottonwood has the least traffic and darkest skies, according to the National Park Service. Rangers regularly offer programs about the night sky. Check online or at any visitor center for details.
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