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gem icon Barker Dam [Suggest Edits]

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Though Joshua Tree National Park is located in the midst of a large desert, the area was historically used by ranchers who managed to raise cattle in the arid climate. A visit to the Barker Dam will highlight the perseverance required to raise livestock, as well as the creative approach that locals had to to take to survive the harsh climate.

Today, you’re more likely to witness local birds or bighorn sheep drinking from the water stored behind the dam than you are to see cattle, and this is one of the most popular places to observe local wildlife. The dam itself was constructed in two stages. The lower portion of the dam was created by ranchers in the early 1900's, but William Keys and his family raised the dam by another six feet in the 1950's. The division between the two portions is easy to spot and makes for an interesting history lesson.

A mild trail leads to the dam, and this is an especially good choice in the spring. Early springtime visitors will enjoy the improbably blue waters of the lake, the boulders that rise directly from the waters, and a chance to admire the handiwork of ranchers from a century ago. This is a great place to take photos and to enjoy the contrast of the water with the surrounding desert.

Short Run: The short Barker Dam Nature Trail will lead runners to the dam and back in about 1.5 miles of easy trail.

Gem Type: Historic Site

Shared by:
Mikhaila Redovian

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Shared by Mikhaila Redovian on May 25, 2017. All Page Views: 3,322. Last Month: 58.