Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Barker Dam (Joshua Tree National Park) - 12/11/14

Above Barker Dam

Below Barker Dam

 On the way down to Palm Springs, eight hikers decided to take the easy nature trail out to see Barker Dam. It was a beautiful area of rock piles begging for photographic creativity. We followed the signs out Park Boulevard from the Oasis Visitor Center to Barker Dam. At the trailhead, there was a sign to explain the existence of the dam. The sign reads as follows:

Steps Built for Nature Trail

Fall Color at Joshua Tree National Park

 Built by cowboys to water their cattle, Barker Dam today is a small, ephemeral lake that attracts an array of animal life in an otherwise parched environment.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, cattle ranching was an important business here. An average of 10" of annual rain fell upon the desert then (compared to 2-5" now), and nearby grass ranges were lush and abundant.

Small Amount of Water at Dam

Wildlife Watering Trough

  Securing rights to reliable water sources - wells, tanks, springs - was critical, pitting rancher against rancher, rancher against miner, and miner against miner. To that end, the Barker & Shay Cattle Company built the dam in this natural basin. Rancher Bill Keys made later improvements to the dam. ~ Joshua Tree National Park

Pictographs on Nature Trail

Pictograph Corner

 We walked around the short trail at a leisurely pace taking in the sights, marveling at the dam and checking out the brightly painted pictographs at one corner of the circle. The granite rock piles and overgrown manzanita bushes offered artistic displays of nature throughout the short hike. Returning to the trailhead, we continued the hike out to Wall Street Mill.

1.5 miles; 50 feet elevation gain; 0.75 hours


Indian Wave Rock

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