Nothing to fear here! Tarantulas are docile critters that have a very weak bite and venom that is considered harmless to humans. Now if you are a coyote or other unfortunate hunter the tarantula has a surprise if you come after him/her. When attacked they rub their stomach with there legs and release the fine hairs which irritate the eyes and mouths of their attacker.
We had joked that it would be funny to meet a coyote and that it’s surely very unlikely. Well, we were mistaken, we even saw three: one on the roadside during our drive and then a second one when we walked some steps. He even followed us a bit, we didn’t feel very comfortable! Shortly before reaching the car, we saw the third one and hurried to get into the car… Other people had less fear, however, they wasn’t bothered by them.
I didn't think this needed to be said, but then I witnessed a lot of people sticking their hands in the close proximity of the chollas and getting hurt (about 4 people in the less than half hour we spent at Cholla Cactus Garden) so I guess there is need to say it. Although some cacti appear soft and fuzzy, their spines penetrate the skin easily and are painful and difficult to remove. You've been warned now :)
Temperatures in the desert in the summer can frequently reach over 100 degrees. The desert is also very dry. Make sure you drink plenty of water before, during, and after any outing. Remember the sunscreen and maybe a hat too.
This is really to reinforce the advice given in leaflets and notices posted within the Park about following the Paths and the maps provided. Wear suitable walking shoes an clothing including a hat. We were there early in the year at the beginning of March and the sun was very strong - as can be seen on the faces of some of our party in our Accommodation and Restaurant Tips.
Also - carry water and refreshments with you! There are no outlets for these things in the Park and you may be glad of the water.
From the National Park Service website: Feeding coyotes, squirrels, and other animals weans them from their natural food supplies and turns them into dangerous creatures as they lose their fear of humans and become agressive.
For current ozone concentration check the website below. Nothing like being above 4,000 feet with 90+ degrees and the maximum 8-hour average ozone concentration (ppb) is 93. Not a good time for some exercise.
Please protect this park for future visitors. Wild life, plants, and all other features in the park are protected and cannot be disturbed or removed from the park. This includes feeding wild life. Coyotes have been fed within the park and this not only causes them to no longer be afraid of humans, but it can affect their health as they begin depending on people and eating foods that often do not have the nutrition that is needed for their survival. If you brought a dog into the park they must be on a leash at all times and are not allowed on the park trails or beyond 100 yards from any road, campground, or picnic area. No off road driving, guns, or explosives is allowed. You may camp only in campgrounds, unless you have registered for a backcountry permit. These permits may be obtained at the Visitor Centers within the park.
Nothing says warning like a huge warning sign in red letters. Brushing against these plants will cause the needles to "jump" at you (hence the nickname "jumping cactus") There are a number of references to horror stories from park rangers who have had to help folks remove these extremely painful cactus needles. Just watch where you're going while among them, and you'll be fine!
Although the park is in the southern U.S. at times it can still get cold. It was below freezing when we were there but a simple zero bag will cover that. Once the sun comes up unless its mid winter you'll be fine in a tshirt. I did get sick which made the cold temperatures seem much worse.
Be careful: The thorns of the 'jumping cholla's' are very sharp and painful! Stay on the road when you have small children or pets with you!
Many cholla's are together in the "cholla garden", where a narrow path lies among the prickly plants. BE CAREFUL! When touched the cholla catapults that touched part, the size of an egg, with very sharp spines. My husband got one on (in) his elbow and it took us a painful quarter of an hour to remove plant and thorns. Later (you see these warnings later, most of the time) we saw on a sign a warning for this "catapulting", especially when you have small children or pets with you. I should say: "don't enter the "cholla garden" with children or pets."! You can see enough of the cholla's and enjoy their beauty when you stay on the paved road.
I found a nice website: Desert Flowers in Joshua Tree NP:
It's funny to see the "No Swimming" sign in the desert. The sign can be seen near Barker Dam to warn people to stay away from the lake blocked by the Dam. I don't think the Park needs to worry about that. The size of lake has reduced significantly in recent years. And the water... let me just say, is only good for algae. Not to mention thousands of frogs living there.
So, as you can decipher from my username, I'm not one of the skinny "billy goat" kind of hikers that are prolific in Joshua Tree. I'm short and fat, and I hike very slowly. However, it wasn't physical limitations that made me despise the Mt. Ryan trail, it's my crippling fear of heights.
The Mt. Ryan trail is literally climbing a mountain. The trail is 2-3' wide at best, and for much of it there is a sheer drop off plummeting to the desert floor. There are rocks you have to scramble over, and, my worst fear as a hiker, much of the trail is made of big flat rocks with loose sandy gravel on top, making it very slippery.
Now you may ask, "Hey genius, what did you expect from a trail that says mountain right in the title?" That's a fair point, and I'm not sure what I expected, maybe, I don't know, oh, a trail! I certainly didn't expect to have the grim reaper as my hiking buddy.
For lots of condescending hippies who passed me on the trail it seemed like they had a good time. So if you're a condescending hippy and have an absurd lack of understanding of the properties of gravity then you'll probably love this trail.
For me, and my fellow hobbits, avoid Mt. Ryan at all costs. There are plenty of challenging and beautiful hiking trails in the world that don't make you ponder your mortality.
I noticed a lot of animals darting across the road as I drove around. From rabbits, to jackrabbits, to birds, there were all sorts out and about. Keep it slow so that you don't end up smacking someone and making them road kill.
Summer is hot. But it's also monsoon season, and you're likely to experience rain--possibly very strong rain. Cumulonimbus clouds look puffy, peaceful and pretty from the side. However, a lot of water can pour out of them, and if it pours out over a mountain, it can flow down to you in a flash flood. Learn to recognize such clouds--particularly anvil clouds. (They really do look like an anvil, because they're tall enough to reach the upper-level winds, which "blow their top.") If you see such a cloud, stay somewhere high. Don't go down into canyons, even if you stay on a ledge. The wall of water that passes through can be upwards of 40 feet tall.