With the onset of winter, hikers in California turn to Joshua Tree in the Mojave Desert. Hiking Ryan Mountain is good way to see an excellent summit view of the park.
Joshua Tree - Ryan Mountain
If you're looking for the best view in Joshua Tree National Park, Ryan Mountain is the undisputed winner. Make it to the top and you'll find a 360 degree view of the park with mountains on one side and the sprawling desert on the other.
Ryan Mountain is reached by hiking the - drum roll please - Ryan Mountain Trail. The trail is roughly one and half miles and takes 45 minutes to an hour depending on your pace. Easy to follow, the trail winds to and up the mountain, giving you a unique panorama as you climb. The incline is pretty moderate, but hiking the trail can be a good workout if you happen to catch it on a really windy day.
The winds on Ryan Mountain can get very serious. We are talking gale force winds. Even if the winds are roaring on the day you visit, go ahead and make the hike. It is relatively short and the views definitely make the effort worth it.
Once you reach the summit, you are going to be literally and symbolically blown away. It is a rare day the wind doesn't blow like all get out. Still, you'll hardly notice since the view is incredible. From the summit, you'll be able to see Queen Valley, Pinto Basin, Lost Horse Valley and even the snow covered peak of Mount San Jacinto in the distance.
To get to Ryan Mountain, take Park Boulevard out of Joshua Tree Town. After 16 miles or so, you'll see a sign for Keys View. Turn left and go a bit over two miles till you see a parking lot on the side of the road with a sign for the trail. Crowds are usually at a minimum.
While much of the country is in a deep freeze in the winter, Joshua Tree is at its best. Hiking the Ryan Mountain Trail is a good way to check it out.