If you are looking for a quiet lake in the trees with the option of a picturesque hike…this place is for you. We stayed on a warm Friday night in July and had the entire lake to ourselves! Bring bug spray because the established camp sites are in the shade with the the mosquitoes. There is also a primitive pit toilet which is slightly better than digging a hole. In the National Park so I would recommend consulting with the local Ranger about a camping permit (White River Ranger Station).
We came into this camping trip expecting three things- 1. It was going to be hot, 2. The ground was going to be hard, and 3. It was going to be windy.
All three of those things were mostly true. When we first arrived on Saturday around noon, it was definitely hot, and definitely windy. We'd come prepared for the ground to be hard and bought new MSR Ground Hog stakes and a stake mallet. Say what you want, but that mallet is a game changer! Seriously, I don't know what took us so long to get one, but I'll never go back to the BAR method (Big A** Rock, haha).
What I wasn't quite expecting, and maybe I'll sound like a noob but I was in "hot southern California" mode, was how cold it would get at night. Our first night there dropped into the low 40s and felt even colder with the wind. We're not exactly strangers to the high desert coming from Utah, but I'll admit I wasn't as prepared as I probably should have been. I think when we go back we'll either bring a sunshade with a wind blocking wall (staked down to the max, our neighbors almost lost theirs) or just be spoiled and bring our camper. The first night we spent very little time outside of the tent once our food was finished cooking, and when we were outside it was a little miserable.
The next couple of days were a lot more manageable, as it was less hot and as a result less windy overall (less dramatic of a temperature swing). Our second night was windless and reasonably warm (in the 50s) and was generally pretty perfect.
My favorite thing about this campground was the huge rock formations spread throughout. It was a great source of entertainment for the kids in the campsite next to ours, as well as for me and our puppy. The campground was also big enough that we could walk our puppy plenty and tire him out without having to leave the campground.
The two things I didn't love are the fact that there is no water in the campground (understandable, and not something I think should change, but still kind of a pain), and that on the hot days the pit toilets were absolutely rank. I know it's a fine line to walk between accessibility to the campsites and not being so close that they make all of the campsites stink, but I felt like these were too far on the "too close to the campsites" side of things. I know pit toilets aren't perfect and sometimes there's just no way to avoid the smell, but this one seemed especially bad to me. Those two things combined are the only reason my review of the campground was bumped down to 4 stars instead of 5- overall it was a great experience and we had an AWESOME campsite, plus you can never go wrong with a guaranteed campsite in a park where most campgrounds are FCFS (Indian Cove is one of only 2 reservable campgrounds in Joshua Tree, and the better of the two in my opinion.)
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time, and on this trip my husband and I tested some Oofos sandals. I'll admit without shame that when I pulled them out of the box and squeezed them, I actually did say, "OOOOOH!" They are super cushy! We used them in the mornings when we needed to let our puppy out of the tent, and when we got back to camp after a long day of hiking, and they were absolutely perfect for both uses. We both liked that they're all one piece and a lot less likely to break with wear, and they're insanely lightweight- they'd be a perfect backpacking camp shoe! They have great support and great cushion, and even my husband (who normally dislikes sandals) has really liked them- enough that he's said something to me, which only happens if he genuinely likes something. So good job, Oofos, you won the approval of Mr Impossible-to-Please! Haha. I think the only thing that I personally would change is that I found the toe on the flip flops to be a bit uncomfortable, and I think I'd be happier with a slide style like my husband got.
You can also read our entire trip report on our blog at The Wild Groves!
This is one of those campsites that has some great proximity to wonderful views but is far enough into the park that it doesn't fill up immediately. I showed up late on a holiday evening and was still able to snag a spot before it filled up. There are plenty of available resources at this park to include fire pits, tables, electrical hook ups, water hook ups, fire wood, and even showers. The proximity to Jackson Lake is also a wonderful feature of the campground. If you are into night photography this is a great place to get away and find some pretty nice shots.
Alabama Hills is located off the beautiful Highway 395. Camping here is a great experience, no designated sites just open land and so much open space. The view of the mountains and rock formations are a must see. This should be on everyone's bucket list.