Barker Dam was originally built in the year 1900 when local cattle ranchers needed a consistent water source for their animals. Unlike other dams, there is no river or other water source that exists naturally near the dam. Barker Dam serves as a water collection site, trapping seasonal rainwater and any water that drains from the mountains.
The original nine feet of the damn is constructed from concrete and local stone, and was later raised another six feet in 1949. Severe drought in the region had lowered the water level to only a few inches, but heavy rains in January 2017 have filled the dam once more. Barker Dam Loop is a popular trail that takes hikers directly past the dam. The trail was temporarily closed in 2013 due to extensive graffiti and vandalism done to the dam and surrounding area, but has since reopened.
I love shooting the damn when is full of water. The water reflects surrounding boulders and trees and at sunrise can capture the most incredible colors. I recently had an astrophotography workshop in Joshua Tree and a few people stayed until morning and shot the dam with me. Not only did we get to take photos of the beautiful scenery but we also had some very special visitors.
Desert bighorn sheep live in the hot, arid regions of the Southwest United States and Mexico. Herds in Joshua Tree spend much of their time at higher elevations, but they sometimes come down to the dam when it is full of water to drink. We were lucky enough to witness such an event and I was later told by a park ranger that a sighing like this is extremely rare.
It was so much fun seeing how the sheep interacted, how the alpha male asserted dominance and how the lookouts kept a close eye on us and would alert the herd if there were any sudden movements. It was definitely an unexpected bonus to a great astrophotography workshop and a beautiful sunrise.
I hope you all enjoyed the images, story and history to such a beautiful location to one of my favorite parks in the world. If your interested in a photo tour or workshop to improve your photography around Joshua Tree National Park please contact me here. Also, visit here for image available for purchase on print, canvas and steel. Till next week guys, Have a great one!