Key's View, Joshua Tree National Park
Here you can see the San Andreas Fault where two continental plates; the Pacific Ocean Crust and the North American Crust have collided and push against each other causing instability and earthquakes.
Keys View, at an elevation of 5185 feet, offers one of the most beautiful views in the park. From here you have a great view of the surrounding desert, the Santa Rosa and San Bernardino Mountain Ranges, the Coachella Valley and the San Andreas Fault. The walk to the viewpoint is short; but steep in places. It is not handicapped accessible without help.
One of the most visited spots in the Park from which a panoramic view can be obtained on a clear day. We had been told that it was often too crowded to get close to the best viewing point but there were few people about when we were there.
It was very hazy, we thought, then read a notice posted up by the National Park. It decried the pollution rising from Los Angeles and made quite an impassioned plea for official action to protect the environment.
This is one of the most popular spots in the park, and once you see the view, you'll know why. I was lucky enough to be here as the sun was setting, and some of the desert landscapes with the moon coming up were phenomenal. Depending on the air quality, you can see as far as Mexico, though more likely you can see at least the Salton Sea. There's a very short path that leads to various overlooks and plaques describing the views you are taking in. Though the road to Keys View is a dead end, it's one of the spots you cannot miss on your trip to Joshua Tree.
In the background of this photo, on the Coachella Valley floor, The San Bernardino National Forest can be seen. This part of the Joshua Tree National Park belongs to the Mojave (or Mohave) desert and because of the elevation is called the "high desert". Though the Ocean is less than 100 km away, the climate is very continental with high temperatures in the Summer and lows in Winter.
On the right of the photo, Indio can hardly be seen. On the far right, the Northern most tip of Salton Sea shows. You will see it better if you enlarge the photo. In the foreground, the slopes of Little San Bernardino Mountains are almost bare and deeply carved by water.
From Joshua tree city, the road leads to Hidden Valley and further to Keys View. Keys View stands on the shoulder of Little San Bernardino Mountains at 1580 m of elevation and offers a view of Coachella valley, with in the background, Palm Springs on the right and Indio on the left, on the valley floor, at 150 m elevation. In the far background, stands Mount San Jacinto at 3290 m elevation.
Keys View offers a sweeping sight of a beautiful valley with mountains in the distance and on clear days the vista extends all the way to Mexico. This fantastic lookout, located at 5185 ft, is accesible by a road going south from the main park road. Below you lies the Coachella Valley, from Palm Springs area to the Salton Sea. To the south and west you can see Mount. San Jacinto (10804 ft) and San Gorgonio Peak (11.499 ft) the highest point in Southern California with their peaks covered with snow. It's definitely worth the drive. As you can see from the picture we got there just in time. Five minutes later the fog had hidden everything from sight.
Sitting on the crest of the Little San Bernardino Mountains, his very short quarter mile hike will take you to a wonderful viewpoint of the Coachella Valley, and the mountains around it. This short trail rises steeply to a high viewpoint. This is the highest point in the park that you can reach by driving a paved road, then walking a short distance. .
Head out to Keys View for an excellent view from the highest point that you can drive to inside the park. Summertime is almost guaranteed to be hazy but compared to lower elevations in the park the altitudes cooler temperatures will be a relief. Returning during the winter you will we rewarded with endless views and freezing cold gusting winds!
Key's View is an excellent place to end your day at Joshua Tree National Park. It's one of the tallest peaks in the park (over 5,000 feet) and offers spectacular views of the valley and surrounding mountains.
Drive up to Key's View to watch the sun set. It's a popular area, so don't expect to be all alone. Once the sun begins to set, you'll have a spectacular view. Even on overcast days, it's a gorgeous sight!
It gets very cold up here around sunset, so you'll want to bundle up in a coat or blanket. Don't forget your camera-- this is a wonderful photo spot.
From Park Boulevard, turn south on Keys View Road and drive up to Keys View at 5,185 feet. Here you stand on the shoulder of Little San Bernardino Mountains looking southwest at Coachella Valley (Palm Springs, Indio) and looking south towards Salton Sea and Mexico. But that's only on a clear day; the view is often obscured by the haze blown in from urban areas. I've been here a few times but never saw Salton Sea.
In the attached photo you can see Mt San Jacinto (10,804 ft) rising straight up from Palm Springs (500 ft), one of the steepest escarpments in the world.
An easily accesible vista point. A car ride through the desert up a hillsaid and then just a short walk to the actual viewpoint. Sometimes the view is impeded by the Los Angeles smog, but on this day it was pretty clear. Elevation 5185 feet.
Keys View is a place from where, on clear days, the vista extends beyond Salton Sea to Mexico and is well worth the additional 20-minute drive.