It is early morning in Twentynine Palms, California; the air is still, a white frost covers the landscape. The night sky is slowly melting away, leaving an orange hue in the east, creating a spectacular sunrise. The desert creatures awake from their nighttime slumber, darting from Joshua tree to Joshua tree.
My room at the 29 Palms Inn is ironically called “fault line”, a small one-room cottage, quant, and a throwback from the 1920’s. The Inn is a relic from the past, with some minor updates. The draw to the 29 Palms Inn, is its bread an breakfast décor, the cottages have very distinctive names and each share a special flavor, suigeneris in its own way. The Inn is not cheap, but management will cut deals to film crews, and there is plenty of parking for large vehicles.
The Oasis RV Park on Amboy Road (Twentynine Palms) has a dump station for motor homes and trailers; in town there are plenty of fueling stations for trucks and cars. Make sure one has a full tank of fuel before one ventures to Amboy or the recently reopened Superior Salt Flats. In winter the early morning temperatures can dip below freezing and rise to a comfortable 75, so dress accordingly. In summer temps can easily exceed a 100 degrees, so bring plenty of water.
On this shoot we were shooting in Joshua Tree National Park, for the uninitiated, there are very specific places one can shoot at, the park is not opened for filming in all areas and the rangers make sure film crews adhere to strict policy. Hidden Valley, about forty-five minutes from the west entrance into the park is surrounded by rocky formations made up of smaller rocks. As moisture seeps into the granite rocks at night and freezes, the force causes the rock to crack, creating a mosaic of smaller rocks cemented into one large rock. The geological candescent movement that created Joshua tree 100 million years ago must have been spectacular. The Joshua trees that surround Hidden Valley look more like grapevines that extend beyond the horizon, than trees.
At Live Oak, one is surrounded by an alien world of convex and strange shaped rocks that are perched on top of each other, waiting to collapse like dominoes. Live Oak lacks a large parking area for vehicles, especially large trucks and motor homes. Hidden Valley is better suited for large productions, with a number of bus size parking spaces.
As the sun sets, one can only imagine what cataclysmic event uplifted the bedrock to create a chain of rock hills that dart the park, but this is what makes Joshua tree National Park so unique. The fact that (Joshua Tree) is located next to Twentynine Palms or Yucca Valley allows for plenty of lodging and eating options. Palm Springs is less than an hour away, with an international airport and more expansive entertainment options, including luxury hotels and resorts.