Anniversary Trip to the San
Jacinto Mountains

May 11-13, 2008
For our one year wedding anniversary Todd and I went on a mountain getaway for a
few days.  We camped for two nights up at San Jacinto State Park in Idyllwild which
is, as the name suggests, an idyllic little mountain town on the edge of the San
Jacinto Wilderness about an hour and a half southeast of where we live.  We drove to
Banning and then took Hwy 243 down to Idyllwild.  This highway has recently been
renamed and dedicated to the five San Bernardino National Forest firefighters that
died in the Esperanza Fire.  We stopped at the Alandale Station home of Engine 57 to
pay homage and then continued on to Idyllwild.  We camped at Idyllwild campground
which is a nice little camping spot right in town within walking distance to its
restaurants and shops.  It has showers and was only $15/night.  We shared the
campground with only a few others on the nights we were there including some Pacific
Crest Trail through hikers. On that first afternoon in Idyllwild we drove up the
valley to the Devil's Slide Trailhead and hiked around the area a little. We saw a few
flowers blooming, a pretty creek, and amazing views of Tahquitz Rock.

The next day we drove southeast through the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains
National Monument admiring the views and wildflowers on the way and headed down
to Palm Springs.  We went to the monument visitor center then we took the Palm
Springs Aerial Tramway up to the 8,500' elevation on the northeast slopes of Mt.
San Jacinto.  The mountain is the 2nd highest in Southern California at 10,834' and
the tram ride to the top is one of the most amazing experiences.  Basically you
ascend 6,000', from desert to subalpine forest, in only eight minutes.  I went on the
tram once with my parents when I was in 10th grade.  The tram cars used to be small
and you sat down and the ride was fun, but now it's even more exciting.  The tram
cars are huge and round and you stand on a rotating platform as you're going up and
down!  It's especially fun as you go past the towers and the cars sway.  At the top of
the tram there is a restaurant, gift shop, and several view points...  and the views are
stunning.  Sitting at 8,516' you can look almost straight down to Palm Springs which is
at 450' in elevation.  On a clear day you can see the Salton Sea which is below Sea
Level.  But that's not all...  the top of the tram is one of the most convenient ways to
access the State Park and National Forest Wilderness areas with their vast network
of trails.  Todd and I hiked on the Long Valley Nature Trail and the Desert View
Trail that afternoon.  This area has just thawed out from the winter so we still saw
some patches of snow.  We enjoyed watching the Western Bluebirds in Long Valley
and seeing the gnarly old trees at the edge of the mountain.
Snowcapped Mt. San Gorgonio, the highest peak in So. Cal, is in the
background and phacelia and popcorn flower in the foreground
Part of the area that was burned in the Esperanza Fire in
October 2006 is abloom this spring with colorful wildflowers
Engine 57 Memorial
Mt. San Jacinto
Manzanita was in bloom everywhere we went
The sheer 1,000' face of Tahquitz Rock rises above Idyllwild
Seeing snowplants tells us the snow hasn't been
melted from this area for very long
Oaks with new leaves frame a half moon
Currant grows alongside a pretty little creek
Showy Four-o'clock Mirabilis multiflora is this beautiful flower
that is blooming right now all over the National Monument
Lots of colorful cactus blooming right now as well!
Going back down
Click here for a short video clip I took on the trip down
Click here to see photos and a video of the tram ride

Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument
San Bernardino National Forest and the San Jacinto Wilderness
More about Idyllwild

Our 2nd Anniversary Trip

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