Hidden Valley Nature Trail, Joshua Tree National Park

4.7
#1 of 17 in Things to do in Joshua Tree National Park
In the late 50s and early 60s, Steve and Gayle Henson's dude ranch was favored by weekend visitors who wanted to enjoy the natural surroundings.

The ranch menu often included salad with a dressing created by Steve from a dry mix of herbs and spices, mayonnaise and buttermilk. The dressing was so popular it soon became the only dressing served.

When a visitor asked for a batch to take back to Hawaii for a large party he was throwing, Henson knew he was on to something big. A few days later, the guest called wanting more. Everyone had gone wild over it.

Encouraged by the success, Henson started marketing the powdered mixture. Within months, twelve people were helping him mix the dressing at Hidden Valley.

By 1970, the dressing had reached over 30 countries.

The Henson family sold the salad dressing business in 1972. But, inside each bottle of Hidden Valley® Ranch dressing is the legacy of a rancher with a palate for great food. The Hidden Valley® Ranch dressing tradition continues today by bringing families closer together over memorable meals.
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Hidden Valley Nature Trail Reviews
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TripAdvisor
  • Picnic area with outhouses and lots of parking. There is a loop trail that is one mile and takes about an hour if you take your time. The "Hidden Valley" was used for cattle grazing. Surrounding this ...  more »
  • This is one of the most beautiful Parks in this area so be prepared for the crowds that come along with it. We went on Feb 1st so our wait to get in at Joshua Tree entrance was minimal although it can...  more »
  • This is a mostly flat, one mile loop, with some big rocks to climb over going in and out of the valley. It's a very scenic trail with plenty of photo ops.  more »
Google
  • This is one of the best hikes in the area. It's not too long, it's not that steep, but there's lots of huge rock formations to climb and make this hike strenuous and long if you want. The hike also has lots of interesting things for actual rock climbing enthusiasts, and you can see many of them in action. If you can do just one hike in the park, do this one. You get a great view of the Joshua Trees spread out over the desert scape, an amazing view of the rock formations in this area, and some great views of vegetation in the desert.
  • Great one-mile hike. There are two spots, as you enter and exit, that are a little steep and rocky with narrow passages. I was carrying a wiggling toddler who was tired of walking and had to be careful so he didn't hit his head on a rock while he flailed. But we made it! The terrain otherwise is almost completely flat and sandy. I enjoyed my barefoot hike, but definitely keep your eyes open for cactus if you do it barefoot or in sandals. Or shorts. Or athletic shoes. Actually, just watch for cactus. They aren't right on the trail, but you will find them if you go to any of the short side ones.
  • We hiked through Hidden Valley right after sunset and we were almost expecting to catch sight of some dinosaurs peacefully walking around... 🐊 The landscape here is incredible and pretty unique, many different plant species are living in symbiosis within this microclimate made possible by the tall rocky walls around. Truly inspiring and relaxing.
  • A great loop hike. Lots of people, and plenty of climbers to observe. Fairly easy on the knees. My seven year old climbed every rock she could, and had a great time. Bring water, there isn't any on the trail.
  • Great hike but undoubtedly best without the crowds during peak season (Christmas holiday for example, the park was absolutely packed).

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Where to stay in Joshua Tree National Park

If you want to spend the night in Joshua Tree National Park, grab a tent and head for one of the numerous campgrounds scattered throughout the park. Some campgrounds feature a reservation system while others operate on a first-come, first-served basis. A couple also provide potable water, but most do not. To sleep on a mattress and pillow with a roof over your head, stay in one of the towns surrounding the park. The towns of Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms offer a number of inns and motels in a tranquil desert setting. West of the park, the options expand into the resort area of Palm Springs. Here you'll find everything from high-end spas and resorts to chain hotels, small inns, and bed and breakfasts. The park is situated about two hours from Los Angeles (if there's no traffic), making a day trip from the city another possibility.
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