Anniversary Trip to the San
Jacinto Mountains

May 11-13, 2008
For our one year wedding anniversary we 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!
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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