Monday, February 25, 2008

Alone again, naturally

We are on BLM land adjacent to Box Canyon Road, east of Mecca (map).

We had a lovely drive through the southern portion of Joshua Tree National Park yesterday. South of Cottonwood Springs the wild flowers were in full bloom -- spectacular!

We had thought about spending another night in the park, at Cottonwood campground. But as we pulled up to the Cottonwood visitors' center, it felt way too early to stop, and we knew the wildflowers were still ahead of us. We pressed on, expecting to perhaps boondock on BLM land just south of the park, as detailed here on the park's own web site.

We did pull off onto the water district road to check it out, and I would guess there to be about a dozen rigs scattered around the area. It still felt too early to stop, and we also felt the spot lacked one of the key ingredients (for us) of BLM camping: solitude. So we continued on past I-10 and turned southeast onto Box Canyon road.

BLM land extends on both sides of the road most of the way in to Mecca. Beyond this point, though, it is mostly wilderness area (vehicles excluded), and, besides, the steep sides of the canyon preclude leaving the roadway. So we stopped here, at the last major turnoff before the slot canyon, and we drove about 200 yards (part of it through some heart-stoppingly soft sand) to this lovely spot just in front of the wilderness area boundary. This is a large area with a huge fire ring, suitable for a pretty big group, but we had the place all to ourselves. There is a stile in the cable fence here to access the trails into the wilderness, yet we also did not see any cars for day hikers in the area.

It's been a great spot -- dark, quiet, and warm, with good protection from the winds that raced through the whole desert yesterday evening. We could easily stay here a few more days, except we are out of groceries, and we need to find another vet to get the dog's blood counts in a day or two. The nearest real store to our planned route is in Brawley, so we'll head that way and be there tonight or tomorrow.

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