Monday, November 18, 2013

Hidden Valley Area - Joshua Tree National Park

Within the Hidden Valley area of Joshua Tree is a place called the "Real" Hidden Valley. Somewhere around 1880, a man named Charlie Button had just been released from prison after serving 15-years relating to a double murder conviction. While in the Joshua Tree area, Charlie and his brother Willie discovered a small passage into a large rock formation.  Much to their surprise, the passage led to a "hidden" valley that was totally surrounded by the formation.

Shortly after the discovery, the Button brothers joined up with a local outlaw named Bill McHaney to rustle cattle in Arizona and use the "hidden valley" to hide and re-brand them. The cattle were then sold to ranchers on the coast.  Several years later, both of them were killed in a barroom brawl. (truth or fiction? I have no idea).

The next six photos were taken in the Hidden Valley area.

Fast forward about 60 years to 1936.
Joshua Tree resident and most known character, Bill Keys re-discovered the "real" Hidden Valley and dynamited a larger opening through the rocks in 1936. This happened just a few months before the area was named a national monument. Bill Keys will be mentioned several times in upcoming posts.
The opening into the real Hidden Valley (looking back out). You can see the damage done to these two boulders by the explosives. This spot marks the start of a one mile loop nature trail. How long it takes you to walk it all depends on how much you look around. It's not much exercise, but it sure gives you a huge dose of beautiful rocks. If you have limited time in the park, it's a must see. 

This photo and the rest were taken within the "real" Hidden Valley.

The valley may have been hidden to late comers, but this rock shelter and mortero (mortar) indicate that local Indian tribes used it. You won't find many things like this in the tourist guides, but if you keep your eyes open and explore a bit, they are there.

You can see it better in this one. The shallow mortero (or mortar) is used to grind acorns, seeds, plants, etc. There might have been some faint petroglyphs there also, but not obvious enough to post a closeup.

Here is another one. This one is much deeper and indicates that it was used for a much longer period of time. The Indians in this part of the country were primarily "hunter gatherers" and moved with the seasons and food sources. They would usually only be in desert areas like this during the cooler months.

Next time, I will climb up to that cave! From afar, it looks like it isn't totally natural.

Which is stronger, the rock or the tree?

I have to post at least one black and white.
Doesn't the round boulder to the right look like it has a mouth and eyes?

The rocks in the middle looks kind of like a ring setting with a "rock" in it.  The rock to the far left looks like a giant bird head, or maybe a primate head of some sort. Or maybe it's the peyote...

Look at the little reddish spot around the middle of this rock formation.

A little closer.

Joshua Tree is a world famous rock climbing destination. It has thousands of recorded rock climbing routes.On the weekends there are scads of rock climbers around. Very interesting and kind of scary to watch. More on that in a later post.
They call this thing "Trojan Rock" because it supposedly looks like the USC Trojan mascot. 

I'm not so sure! 



  1. Absolutely fantastic shot Pat! Especially the bnw one...

  2. What an interesting discovery. No surprise the Indians had been using it for years. Probably a safe place to hole up for a while.
    Awesome photos as always!

  3. what an awesome place! thanks for sharing all this beauty with us. i loved the 'caterpillar' rock with the little face. :)

  4. It is such an in credible, awesome place, Pat, and your captures are superb as always!! All of that incredible scenery and such beautiful, blue, blue skies!! Always look forward to where you take us each Monday!! Have a great week!

  5. All of these photos are a "huge dose of beautiful..." The skies there are fantastic as well. Such a splendid spot on the planet.

  6. Siddhartha - Thanks so much Sid! I also like that photo!

    Alex - Yep! I'm sure it was very safe until we came along. Thanks Alex!

    TexWisGirl - My pleasure. I really liked that rock also, what a cute little face. Well, not little, but still cute!

    Sylvia - It sure is! It's one of my favorite places. There is so much there to see.

    Robin - A big dose! I agree with you about this place. Thanks so much Robin!

  7. Great post, Pat, at Joshua Tree… I'd love to see the Hidden Valley.. I'm not a rock-climber ---but I'd love to see in that cave.

    The last rock looks more like a Whale Rock than a Trojan Rock…. ha


  8. You go to THE MOST INTERESTING PLACES!!! I'm so glad you share it with me, since I'm not likely to ever get there. Thank you!

  9. Absolutely fascinating information, and a stunning area through your photos!

    All I see is the head of a man in the last shot :-) Very cool!

  10. I love this place so much. Thanks for the memories. Your pictures are so wonderful they're going to help a lot more people "get" Joshua Tree!!

  11. Betsy - Thanks Betsy! There are plenty around at ground level also. They couldn't name it "whale" rock, because they already have one of those!

    Ms. A - I do my best! I am happy to be your guide.

    Icy BC - Thanks so much! There is some interesting history in and around Joshua Tree.

    Sallie - My pleasure Sallie! I hope some people get it, but I'd hate to see it too crowded. It doesn't take too many people to make it seem that way. There isn't a whole lot of parking there.

  12. I've already told my husband- this place is on our bucket list to visit, thanks to your great descriptions and pictures.

  13. Fascinating stuff and such beautiful pictures!

  14. If you would have taught History perhaps I wouldn't have failed ! I love the commentary of your travels as much as the beautiful photographs.
    Peace. Vickie

  15. Great pics, Pat. Boo Trojan rock, lol.

    I liked the face rock. Have you seen Cat Rock up in the park? It was near Jumbo Rocks.

  16. Beautiful photos! You know, we've never hiked back into the canyon...we've stopped at the parking lot there. I'll put that on our "to do" list! :-)
    ~~Cheryl Ann~~

  17. Fabulous tour, Pat! Your images are striking, as always. You saw a lot of interesting resemblances in the rocks and I would have to agree with you on each one of them.

    (Life With Mike & Lindy, and Drive-By Photos)

  18. Pat, I shared this post with my hubby just now. He said he thinks the Trojan Rock likeness was probably nicknamed by a Notre Dame fan. ;-) (We're just being silly...)


  19. I'm impressed with how red the rocks are. I've seen many pictures of Joshua Tree - yours are the most stunning - but I've never actually been there. Thanks for the tour.

    Be well, Pat.

  20. First of all, I need to say your pictures are magnificent! It's a very special park, the stones are wonderful and you got a special blue sky and lights in your compositions!Peaceful walking!Thanks for sharing!

  21. I heard about this area back in the dim and distant past when I was a bit of a climber - although I seem to remember there being nothing at JT I would have been able to climb!

    Great set of pictures. Much like Central Australia.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  22. I immediately saw the face in the rock, pretty cool. I thikn one could spend a lifetime @ JoshuaTree and never see half.

  23. This place is so unique. Rocky land is so special. I looked at the trees. They are having a difficult time to grow probably in this land but they are very beautiful.

    Amazing formations of rocks! And amazing blue sky!

    Pat, you took fantastic pictures and very special.

    Greetings from Kaya.

  24. I wasn't thinking Trojan so much as squished face rock. haha

    I think I'd get nauseous just watching the rock climbers. I'm such a wimp when it comes to heights.

  25. I'm glad you pointed out the size of these rocks via the red dot. Wow, they are much larger than I thought at first. Beautiful place to visit and I can see why rock climbers love it as well. Thanks for the journey!

  26. Shelly - Thanks Shelly! Lot's more to come. I need to get back there at least a couple more times this year.

    Al P - Thanks Al! It sure is fascinating.

    Vickie - VICKIE! I'm so happy to see your comment. When I saw it yesterday, I immediately went over to your blog to see if you had posted something. Thanks for saying the nice words. I've always said that with the right teacher, history would be everybody's favorite class. Take care...

    Sally - Thanks Sally! That rock looked like something, but it wasn't the Trojan mascot! Nope, I didn't see cat rock and don't remember anything about it. I just Googled it and up popped your blog! That is one amazing rock! Is it on the Jumbo Rock campground trail? The one that goes to Skull rock? I'll make a point of finding it next time. Thanks!

    trav4adventures - Thanks so much! While we were in the area, I took a couple of friends on a whirlwind tour of JTNP. One of them had a new hip and couldn't hike yet. So we just stopped in the lot as well. Even without the "real" hidden part, it's still a beautiful area.

    thirtysevenandcounting - Thanks Lindy! My pleasure. I'm one of those people who see faces in everything. So I have more! That was a funny thing your husband said. It's probably true!!

  27. Robyn - Thanks Robyn! My pleasure! It is a seriously amazing place.

    Cezar and Leia - Thanks so much Leia. I agree that is very beautiful. Sometimes, the light is too harsh. A few clouds in the sky is a great thing. Give Luna a scratch under the chin for me.

    Stewart - Thanks Stewart! I'm sure there are climbs there, that you could have done. I'm usually on the hunt for caves and rock art, so I'll stick to places that aren't so high. As an added bonus, a fall probably won't kill me.

    Wayne - I know what you mean. If you go without a camera, you can cover ground a lot quicker.

    Kaya - Unique is a great word for it. You are right about the trees, but there too many Joshua trees there to count. Thanks so much for the nice words Kaya.

    TS Hendrik - I agree! That is one terrible looking Trojan. I understand about the heights. If I'm connected to a rope, I'd probably be okay. Well, maybe a rope and a sedative...

    Bouncin Barb - Oh yeah! many, if not most of the rock formations are higher than this one. My pleasure, we're just getting started.

  28. This is my kind of walk! I LOVE rocks!

  29. Wow- amazing and brought back happy memories of days in Joshua Tree National Park in the 1990s. Oh to go again!

    Canal boats/barges/narrow boats on UK canals are privately owned Pat, but there are also some companies that hire them to holiday makers and weekenders - with a short lesson before you take to the wheel!

  30. Such beautiful photos. Love all the contrasts of that brilliant blue sky against the red rocks.
    Seeing the climber on the rock really gives an indication of just how huge the formations are.
    Wonderful informative post as always.
    Thank you

  31. Love those rock formations, Pat, and such a lovely contrast between the blue of the sky and the red of the rocks!

  32. JeannetteStGermain - Yep! It was a nice one.

    Chrissy - I'm very happy to have reminded you of it. Thanks for the info on the canal boats. Very interesting.

    Mynx - Thanks so much! It's not always an easy place to photograph. I have some photos from a climbing spot there that is MUCH higher. The people look so tiny on it. My pleasure!

    DEZMOND - Me too! I agree about the contrast and if there happens to be a few clouds in the sky, all the better!

  33. Pat,I have heard so much about this place but never seen such good photos of it...The colors are amazing and I will never see a place like I love to look over your shoulder and see what you are taking photos of. Thanks so much for your visit to my blog. Cheers. nora

  34. Gorgeous photos Pat! I love finding faces in rock formations. ;) Thanks for dropping by my blog to say hello. Will be updating it soon. It's always a treat to hear from you!

  35. Nora - Thanks so much for saying that. Feel free to look over my shoulder anytime. I have a few more posts from this trip and plan to make a couple more fairly soon.

    Pam - Thanks Pam! It seems like I don't even have to look for the faces, it's almost all I see. It was my pleasure dropping by. Nice to hear from you as well.

  36. Yes, Great pictures, I really like the landscape with those big rocks, a place full of magic! Interesting the face of the last photo!

  37. Excellent series of shots of this fascinating location Pat.. J'adore the mystery surrounding area like this, mention the word 'hidden' and all of a sudden it becomes more exciting.. It made me think of the mystery surrounding the disappearance of the young ladies in the mystery of 'the picnic at hanging rock' ..Ayers Rock or as its known now Uluru.

  38. Just amazing - and as someone else said, the rocks are so much larger than I first thought.

  39. The scenery is stunning - as are your photos.

  40. Such an amazing place and awesome photos Pat!

  41. Stunning as always. I never understand how it's possible for a person to not be enamoured by the desert. It's the most amazing ecosystem on Earth as far as I'm concerned. It's endlessly fascinating. I didn't have time this summer to do Joshua tree but it's top of my list for next time I'm desert bound, for sure.

  42. Those rock faces are awesome Pat. My thinks the tree is stronger, it must be a female giggle :)
    Fantastic pics as always Pat.
    Happy trails, be careful out there.

  43. Trojan mascot with a hangover.... The rocks are just gorgeous - so soft looking, and the streaky clouds - fabulous!

  44. Wonderful photos of this very unique and gorgeous area! Isn't it amazing how often some trees seem to grow right out of the rocks?! I guess a seed gets lodged in there and eventually, a tree takes off; the tenacity of living things. Looks like you had perfect weather for your visit.

  45. Leovi - Thank you Leovi! You are right, it is a place full of magic.

    PerthDailyPhoto - Thanks so much! I remember the movie about that incident at Ayers Rock. I don't remember the ending. Did they actually ever find out what happened (in real life)?

    marlu - Many of them are huge. That will be more evident in some photos I'll be posting soon.

    ladyfi - Thanks so much! I really appreciate that.

    Brian - Thanks Brian! It is an amazing place.

  46. The Vegetable Assassin - Why thank you! I totally agree with you about the desert. A lot of people really don't like it and go to great pains to never have to drive across it even. I hope you get to go soon.

    Pam - Thanks Pam! I agree about the tree, given enough time and a tiny crack it will grow.

    tapirgal - HA! That's funny! Thank you my friend!

    Stickup Artist - Thanks! I really do appreciate that coming from you. I agree with you about the trees. It's amazing what they can and will do over time. Yep, the weather was fantastic. It was about 80 everyday we were there. Even cooler now.

    I can't believe how HARD it is raining here right now.

  47. Incredible rock formations indeed - lovely photos. That story is fascinating and wouldn't be surprising if it's true.

  48. Pat, I LOVED this post. Your captures of the rock formations were excellent, especially with that incredibly blue ski and jet trails. Good work. I got to take a hike I'd never have done, without you.

  49. Al - thanks Al. There are many square miles of these things. I believe it's true. The wild west was still alive in the southwest deserts until not too long ago. It's still pretty wild in some places.

    Rosemary - Thanks Rosemary! I appreciate that! There are some trails that you would have no problem with.

  50. Absolutely beautiful photos! The tree growing between the rocks is amazing.

  51. such terrific shots, pat!

    those rock formations are incredibly beautiful and interesting too.
    what an amazing place! that face in the rock is pretty cool!

    have a great day!

  52. James - Thanks so much James!

    Betty - That's Betty! There are so many faces!

  53. Hi Pat
    Beautiful pictures. I think the Trojan Rock looks like an angry guy with a bad hair day. Also the rock that you said had a cave, the one behind it has a face. Now remember, I write fantasy so I'm prone to see things where they may not be.

    Thanks for your comments on my blog.

  54. Maybe because our deserts can, for the most part, shrug off civilization, they've always been a meeting ground for outlaws, outcasts, and adventurers. Thanks for the stories and the wonderful images.

  55. Astonishing country, Pat. I always like to see your pictures because you get right into what's really there--whether desert grit or deep secret caves or ancient hideout, thundering mountains, all of it. You seem so comfortable with reality.

  56. N.R. Williams - Thanks Nancy! I agree with you and it certainly doesn't look like the Trojan mascot. I agree about the face. I see them everywhere. The comments are my pleasure.

    altadenahiker - I think you are exactly right. It's probably the best place to get away from it all. Thanks Karin!

    Margaret Benbow - Thanks Margaret!
    I appreciate that. It's not that I won't go to normal tourist-ish places, but I prefer the things you mentioned.

  57. Love, love the rocks. SO fun! I might have to head that way one of these days.

  58. Great photos... I'd like to visit, in winter!

  59. Baby Sister - I love them also. I hope you do make out here. You won't regret it.

    Sage - Thanks! The best times are fall and spring. The winter is good also, but make no mistake it gets cold here. It even snows! This part of the park is somewhere between 4,000 and 4,500 feet in elevation. Definitely high desert.

  60. I love this!

    Love, love, love!

    Working on health and healing and getting strong!

    I'm going here.

    It's on my list now.

    Pat! I'm thankful you share all these wonderful things with us.

    You are a blessing!

    Thank you.

  61. Patricia Stoltey - Thanks so much!
    It's not very hard there.

    Jenny - Thanks Jenny! It's my pleasure! I'm very happy to hear that you are improving. When you do go, let me know and I'll give you some tips.

  62. I've been slow to keep up with the blog crowd but yours is a necessary pleasure - wow! I need to visit this place

  63. Pasadena Adjacent - Thanks so much for saying that! Very nice of you...

  64. Gingerspark - Thanks! It really is a gorgeous place.


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