We were headed up to Joshua Tree National Park yesterday morning, and we wanted to get a fairly early start to be able to snag one of the first come, first serve camping sites at Jumbo Rocks Campground. So at 8:00am, Ruth took Helen and Tony back to Walmart for a few last minute items in case we ended up staying up there for three nights.
Meanwhile, I got Sherman all packed up and ready to go.
We had one stop to make along the way. We wanted to see another one of the Peter Toth indian head statues. We had seen one in New Mexico a couple of years ago, and when Dave and Bonnie were here visiting the other day he told us about another one that was nearby.
Dave keeps a website that details all of Peter Toth statues that are distributed around the U.S.. You can find out more at www.dcschumaker.com
This statue is 45 ft tall!
The statue is located on the grounds of a museum, and as luck would have it, we were there on a Monday. Of course, most museums are closed on Mondays! We could get a couple of views of it through the fence and gates though.
We entered the park at the northern entrance. The Visitors Center is actually located in the town of Joshua Tree, and as we drove by we saw the sign that said "Campgrounds Full". This was at around 11:00am, which is right around the time that I figure most people would be leaving.
There's no RV parking at this Visitors Center (which is kinda dumb), so I pulled over further down the road, and Ruth went back with Helen in the car to find out about passes and to ask about this "campground full" stuff.
And sure enough, the girl told them that "based on their last available information, the campgrounds are full".
Well, we learned last year at Zion National Park that when the signs say the campground is full, they are often not telling the truth!
Walking around the campground.
Sherman and our rental red Beetle!
So, we drove on into the park and arrived at Jumbo Rocks Campground where the sign at the entrance also read "Campground Full". Within two minutes, we found an empty site. Ruth parked the car in it while Tony and I carried on with the motorhome to see what else was available. Sure enough, we found an even better site not much further on. We've been using little two way radios between the vehicles and so we called Ruth and told her which site we were at. She came by and went to pay, and on the way to do that she found an even better vacant site!
This is a self serve campground, where you fill out a ticket and drop your $15 USD ($19.50 CAD) in the slot. You tear off the tag, and attach it to the signpost at your site.
Problem is...when people depart they often leave the tag on the post. The tag says when you arrived, and how many nights you've paid for. So, at all of the empty sites that we found (at least a dozen or more) the ticket from the previous occupant was still there, giving the impression that the site was occupied.
Now here's a neat little trailer!
So...when you see a sign in a National Park that says "Campground Full"...don't believe it! What a terrible system. It is unreal that they don't have someone going around and checking which sites have been vacated and removing the tags. On another note, there are quite a few overflowing trash bins, and the toilets don't seem to be checked for cleanliness on a regular basis. In fact, since we have been here we have yet to even catch sight of an employee.
Many of the sites in Jumbo Rocks Campground are made for tenters, not RV's. And most of the RV suitable sites are listed as for 25' or less. Sherman is 28'. We found a site that would fit larger than 30', but they are few and far between.
We went for a walk around the campground. Lots of fun climbing on the big boulders and it's a nice area of the park.
Today, we'll take off in the Beetle and do some touring of the park.
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