A true desert oasis: Barker Dam
Every desert has an oasis and Joshua Tree is no exception. Barker Dam stands out against the arid landscape with its pool of cool water surrounded by green foliage. Because there are no natural water resources in the area, ranchers created Barker Dam to provide their livestock with water. What started as a small rain catchment area was expanded into a larger dam by a cattle company and was expanded a second time later on by another rancher.
Although the dam is no longer used as a watering hole for livestock it still provides an oasis for the various desert critters and birds that make their home in Joshua Tree.
If you're going to visit Barker Dam, go early! This is one of the flatter and shorter trails and it gets crowded. Because it's an easier trail it's a popular place for families so the later in the afternoon you go the more people you'll encounter.
However, if you keep venturing past the dam area the crowds will thin out and you'll find some bonus treasures too.
Native American petroglyphs are a hidden gem on Barker Dam trail. There are small signs directing you to them along the way so you have to be keeping an eye out to find them. The petroglyphs have been pretty well preserved, but over the years people have painted over them in an effort to make them stand out more from the rock face. While this sounds nice in theory, it has taken away from their original aesthetic and historic value...but I won't get on my soap box about preserving history/nature and all that.