When you step out of your car at Key's View you'll be automatically sucked in by what lies in front of you. Mount San Jacinto and San Gorgonio rise up off the desert floor to heights of over 10,000 feet. Below you is the San Andreas Fault and the Banning Pass wind farm. When you walk up to the overlook it gets even more impressive. On a clear day you can see all of the Coachella Valley from Palm Springs to Mecca. The Salton Sea will dance in the sunlight and through the haze you might just be able to spot El Centinela (aka Mount Signal), 100 miles south and just over the Mexican border.
Would you believe that's only half the view?
Most visitors to Joshua Tree National Park only stop to take photgraphs from the overlook. A few hearty hikers will take the short but steep trail up to Inspiration Peak. The unmarked trail leaves the north end of the parking lot near the San Andreas Fault interpretive sign. It climbs 400 hundred feet in 0.4 miles to the summit between Key's View and Inspiration Peak. Very few Joshua Trees will dot the hillside and this area looks to have suffered a recent burn. Then the trail drops 120 feet to a saddle before ascending to the summit of Inspiration Peak. From here you can see what the visitors who only stop at the overlook can't - the view to the north. All of Joshua Tree and the Mojave Desert are spread out before you. Quail Mountain, the highest point in the park, is in the foreground. Ryan Mountain, which makes a nice morning hike, is to its right. Beyond them lies the Morongo Basin and the Mohave National Preserve. Several other landmarks that I'm not familiar with are also clearly visible. Enjoy the 360-degree views and return the way you came.