Nature's hole in the wall: Willow Hole
Joshua Tree has a lot of surprises. I was definitely not expecting to see as much lush vegetation as we did. Sure I expected some cacti, the famous Joshua trees and a scrubby bush here and there, but not willow trees sprouting out of the sand. Willow Hole as the name suggests, has a cluster of willow trees at the end of the trail.
This isn't one of the super long trails (7 miles) and is relatively flat, but it's no joke. It's located in what's known as the "Wonderland of Rocks" portion of the park which is host to many of the popular climbing destinations I mentioned in an earlier post. Large imposing rock formations flank either side of the trail and stand watch over the wash below. Because this is a wash or former river bed, the sand is thicker here and you have to slog through it to get to your destination. It's worth it, but your legs will feel it later (you can thank me later when you emerge with calves of steel). This is definitely not a trail you can hike in Chacos...wear close toed shoes.
You'll know you've reached the end of the trail when you start seeing pine, juniper and finally willow trees. It's an out and back trail so you turn around at the willow...don't try to go through them like we may have done.... The lush trees provide a striking contrast against the maze of brown and gray rocks and make for some cool photos. Honestly I don't think you can take a "bad" picture in Joshua Tree.