||Stayed in Belle Campground. Oh, Joshua Tree. If you haven't been, go. Now, dammit, you don't have time to waste! I've been to Joshua Tree three times, and the camping was good everywhere. Indian Cove (with a group that hardly ever felt stifled by itself and had plenty of rocks to play lizard on), the great back country, and Belle, the subject of this post. But first, a warning. My party of 8 arrived in the dead of night through the North Entrance, in the cheap hopes of sneaking into the park without paying the entrance fee (there's no one at the station to tell you to pay or to take your money, so you really can get in and out of the park for free this way, assuming you drive through when the station closed, which I believe is before 9am and after 6pm, but call and check first for the hours. A woman I called at the park practically suggested this to me), however, karma is real, and for our trick, we got utterly lost trying to find Belle. I maintain it's not our fault. The signs were dim, and the maps aren't very helpful. Get a better one than the park offers, if you can, otherwise the road names are not clear, so keep your eyes sharp. But we did still get in free. 2 cars with 30 bucks still in our pockets. Eventually we found Belle. And, it is aptly named. All the campsites were so pretty we could hardly pick which one was best. Of the 18 sites, one was occupied when we arrived, on the weekend, in the fall of 2006. Now that's a jewel of a find. This campsite is a great place to be, nestled right in the rocks. The rocks are ample, and big(big), and fun to climb (without gear, just simple scampering, fairly easy, but you can find a challenge without looking too hard, if you wish), and most of them line the sites to create natural boundaries between you and your neighbors. It's nice to play on a playground that's so much bigger than you, or just laze about like a lizard (but put on sunscreen!). Surrounding this huge rock grove, within view of your campsite, are the desert plains, filled with weird desert plants and the great!
Trees themselves, with the view of the stony Joshua Tree hills in the background. Little trails and washes weave through them, and you can get pleasantly lost, but still have a view of your campsite if you turn around. The place remained relatively empty throughout our stay, with one RV in the whole place. There is no ranger post, really, they just stop by once or twice a day to check the self-registration boxes and make their presence known. We had very little contact with them. The fee is 10 dollars a night, but a lot of the websites are not up-to-date yet with this information. Apparently, it used to be 'none.' But, now, it's 10 a night. And worth every bloody penny. There's no water at the site, unfortunately, but there is a spigot with potable water at the Oasis Visitor Center, a couple miles down the road in the park (towards the North entrance). However, if you evaded the entrance fees on your way in, be careful, because if there' s ranger in the North Entrance station, they'll make you pay the fees you didn't pay on your way in, even to get to the visitor center The toilets are...there, at the campsite. Nice port-o-potties are the best description. They're not horrible, but they're occasionally stinky (non-flush), but they've got a bit of space. They get the job done without being too awful. I prefer to go number one behind the rocks when it's dark enough not to be caught, but for number two...best to go inside. This campground is a wonderful place to be. There's a great sense of peace about it, if you get along with the desert well enough. Here's a great map of the general Joshua Tree set up: http://www.joshua.tree.national-park.com/map.htm Each campsite is limited to six people, three tents, and two cars, but it' s easy to get two sites right next to each other. First come, first serve. And it was empty when we showed up. Wonderfully empty.
Received from Diana H for visit in Sep 2006
Site Number: None
Stay Again? YES