"Have fun, take lots of pictures, and get inspired!" Those were the marching orders from Anderson Design Group Founder and Creative Director Joel Anderson when ADG staffers Molly Mann and Ally Cizowski departed on a ten-day journey to four California National Parks.
Molly is the Director of Social Media and a customer service rep for Anderson Design Group, and Ally is the Floor Manager of the Studio-Store and the fulfillment coordinator. In September of 2020, the two had the great idea of taking a work trip to four National Parks, not just for their enjoyment, but also for gathering reference photos, inspiration, and new ideas for up-and-coming ADG poster art.
Last week, we brought our readers along for the ride with Molly and Ally's first stop at Channel Islands National Park. This week, we tag along for the second leg of their journey, Joshua Tree National Park. Just a three-hour drive from Channel Islands Beach, Joshua Tree offers stunning landscapes and almost otherworldly wilderness settings. A stark contrast, and an entirely different environment from the islands.
Why Joshua Tree National Park?
When asked why Molly and Ally decided to add Joshua Tree to their trip itinerary, they had several responses.
Ally had seen amazing pictures of Joshua Tree on Instagram (haven't we all?) She had heard that "J-Tree," as the locals call it, offers a truly "weird" landscape. She had also heard that much of the park could be seen from the car (in case they were short on time), and the park was a relatively short distance from Channel Islands.
From Molly's perspective, no one from Anderson Design Group had been to Joshua Tree yet, and the team has always had the goal for ADG to have personal connections with every park on the roster.
Joshua Tree National Park - The Highlights
Molly and Ally left Channel Islands National Park in the late afternoon and drove the three hours to Joshua Tree. Driving after sundown, they were able to spot some of the California wildfires that were especially prolific that season. It was a somber reminder of the importance of conservation, of protecting our natural lands.
Since they knew they were going to arrive at Joshua Tree after dark, Molly and Ally blocked out two days of their trip to fully enjoy all that Joshua Tree had to offer. Late that night, they arrived at an Airbnb just on the edge of the National Park. Getting out of the car late at night, the girls were immediately confronted with a stark change in climate from what they'd experienced just three hours earlier on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Ally remarked: "Even at night, there was a breeze, but it felt like a hairdryer on your face."
The next morning, Molly and Ally awoke to emergency alerts on their phones; shrill warnings of nearby wildfires and extreme heat cautions. Adventurous souls to say the least, our ADG expeditionists left their Airbnb and ventured into Joshua Tree by the only entrance/exit that was still open to the public.
Well-tended by park rangers and nonprofit nature custodian groups, Joshua Tree National Park was completely safe from wildfires. But that didn't stop the smoke from blazes miles away from drifting into the Park. Hazy and with the unforgettable scent of a wood-burning stove, Joshua Tree welcomed Molly and Ally, offering an experience they wouldn't soon forget.
Advice from the Ladies - Joshua Tree National Park Must-Sees
At night, Molly and Ally reported that the temperature was about 80F°. During the day, Molly's rental car thermometer read 111F°. Because of the extreme temperatures in the park, Molly and Ally came back to Nashville with the following tips for what to do in Joshua Tree, (and how best to enjoy the park without risking heatstroke, heat exhaustion, or sunburn):
- Enjoy the park in the early morning (5:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.) or the late afternoon/evening (5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.).
- Joshua Tree has several hiking trails that branch off the main road and circle back to it. Many such trails are only one-half mile to one mile long, giving visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the park without leaving the comfortable A/C of their cars for too long.
- Sunscreen and water! The sun and heat can be quite intense, so be sure to bring lots of water and sun protection.
- Take a day to explore the park. Though Joshua Tree National Park is quite large (more than 1,200 square miles), it has multiple entrances and several well-maintained roads that crisscross the park. That allows explorers to drive from one attraction to another, get out, hike a bit, get back in, drive to the next attraction, and so on.
- Joshua Tree National Park is thought to be a very "drivable" park, meaning much of the park can be enjoyed from the comfort of one's car (a bonus in case visitors want to tour the park on especially hot days).
- The most exciting attractions in the park include the Cholla Cactus Garden, Arch Rock Trail, and Keys View. All throughout the park, the Yucca trees stand out the most, incredible, Dr. Seuss-like trees that look almost as though they belong on a different planet.
- The nearby town of Palm Springs (37 miles from the park's north entrance) offers excellent restaurants and lodgings; well-positioned to provide park explorers with a base camp from which to plan their adventures in Joshua Tree.
Inspiration and Nostalgia Reflected in Vintage Poster Design
Molly and Ally took dozens of reference photos and inspiration shots for the ADG design team to use in future poster art. And at the time of this writing, they've already created four original illustrations of Joshua Tree, each with a unique perspective of the park.
One poster shows a mysterious rendition of the park at sunset.
Another depicts some of the rock formations that spring up from the desert floor.
Another illustration features an oil painting of the park, brought to us by the talented Kai Carpenter.
And last but not least, we had the pleasure of working with digital painter Kenneth Crane on yet another rendition, this one displaying the Yucca trees in all their moody and magical wonder.
To learn more about Joshua Tree National Park, be sure to visit the National Park Service, as that's where local park rangers post up-to-date information on travel advice, closures, trail maintenance, special events, etc. And to learn more about conservation work being done to preserve Joshua Tree for generations to come, be sure to check out the Joshua Tree National Park Association.
After Molly and Ally had explored the stunning features of Joshua Tree, they spent the night in another Airbnb and disembarked the next morning for Death Valley National Park. Check back next week to read the full story on their adventures in America's infamous desert!
Anderson Design Group Writing Staff