What to See and Do in California's Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is truly a unique blend of the high Mojave Desert and the low Colorado Desert. Located in Southern California, it is about 140 miles east of Los Angeles. It bears a biblical reference which will soon become clear when reading this article. This park consists of 1,022,703 acres of land ( 414,050 hectares ) and much of it is kept in the wild.
My traveling buddy and I were coming from the opposite direction just having enjoyed the Saguaro National Park just outside Tucson, Arizona. We took the southern entrance into the park which parted company with Interstate 10 by heading north on the road marked 195. This was just east of Indio and Palm Springs.
The distinctive Joshua Trees grow in the western half of the park in the higher elevations of the Mojave Desert. To me, they look like overgrown yuccas.
Franklin D. Roosevelt set aside this unique land as a national monument in 1936. It was finally designated a national park in 1994 and it is open year round.
Some of the wildflowers and shrubs we saw in bloom while visiting this park.Click thumbnail to view full-size
As you can see from the photos above, many flowering plants can be appreciated in the spring of the year. My friend and I happened to be visiting this area in late April.
Humans have inhabited this land at least 5,000 years.
Mormon settlers legend has it that these trees were named for the prophet Joshua, and the tree's limbs reminded them of arms outstretched in supplication. Thus the biblical reference. This is as good a name as any for these other-worldly looking trees.
Photos Taken in Joshua Tree National ParkClick thumbnail to view full-size
What to See and Do
People enjoy this park for all kinds of reasons. Among them are some of the following:
- Bird watching
- Rock climbing.
Jumbo Rocks in the Hidden Valley Area of Joshua Tree National ParkClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Jumbo Rocks in the Hidden Valley part of the Joshua Tree National Park is a haven for rock climbers! Many enthusiasts who like to climb in Yosemite come here during the winter months because of snow in Yosemite.
There are trails in this area.
Rock climbing suits beginners to those advanced in this sport. This is quite a playground!
My traveling companion and I enjoyed being in this section of the park on the day of our visit. It is worth visiting even if rock climbing is not high on a person's wish list.
Key's View in Joshua Tree National Park
Centuries-Old Joshua Trees
In this picture below I am standing by a very old Joshua Tree. They only grow about 1/2 inch a year.
There are some 40-foot trees in this park that are over 900 years old!
Wildlife Within the Park
Many animals, birds, and insects exist in these desert areas. All the usual ones you might expect to see are located here. Snakes to lizards to hundreds of species of birds along with coyotes and bobcats can be found here among many others.
One interesting case of symbiosis between the yucca moth and the Joshua Tree exists.
- The yucca moth lays eggs inside the flower ovary of the Joshua Tree. When the resulting larva emerges, they feed upon the seeds.
- The Joshua Tree relies upon the yucca moth for its pollination.
- Thus both life cycles are aided by this meshing of purposes.
Come and visit Joshua Tree National Park in California if you care to see the beautiful and the unusual Joshua trees, unusual and pretty rock formations and beautiful plants as well as wildlife. It is a national park that you will not soon forget!
Have you ever visited Joshua Tree National Park?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2009 Peggy Woods