5:00 pm

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The ranger stands for a moment, thinking.

"The best place for tonight's sunset? I would go on in, and drive up to the Hidden Valley picnic area. There's an open view to the west, and from that spot you can just walk out into the open field."

His advice is dead on. The field is thick with Joshua trees, their curved and gnarly silhouettes standing out against the horizon. Granite rock formations stand tall among them, and a quick scramble up the boulders earns us a great vista.

As the sun sets behind the mountains, small armies of photographers wade into the field with their tripods, intervalometers, and red headlamps. The desert is still and quiet, and although the sky isn't especially clear, the comfortable temperature makes for a great night.

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