Two deserts, two large ecosystems whose characteristics are determined primarily by elevation, come together at Joshua Tree National Park. Below 3,000 feet, the Colorado Desert encompasses the eastern part of the park and features natural gardens of creosote bush, ocotillo, and cholla cactus. The higher, moister, and slightly cooler Mojave Desert is the special habitat of the Joshua tree. In addition to Joshua tree forests, the western part of the park also includes some of the most interesting geologic displays found in California’s deserts. Five fan palm oases also dot the park, indicating those few areas where water occurs naturally and wildlife abounds.
The Joshua Tree National Park charges a $10 fee per car entering the park, and allows unlimited entry and exits for seven days.
I couldn't believe it when I read it, but the Joshua Tree is a member of the lily family. They have really hard leaves that indians used for baskets and such and flowers that were eaten.
Legend has it that mormon pioneers named the tree after the prophet Joshua, seeing the Joshua tree with arms out guiding them west.
Ranchers and miners used the Joshua tree's limbs and truncks for fencing and corrals. Miners found a source of fuel for the steam engines used in processing ore.
In spring they flower.
These guys are really fast. They gets their liquids from what they eat...lizards, insects, rodents, and baby birds. You may see one shooting by out of the corner of your eye as you wander around. I've only seen one.
Another likely encounter will be witht he jackrabbit. These rabbits are furry, but blend into the background. You will likely see one darting away from you after you disurb the silence or get too close.
On the roads you may encounter a coyote wandering around. They are scavengers, so they seem to stay in the general vicinity of humans and hope for a handout. Its diet may include bugs, lizards, snakes, potato chips, or whatever. You also may hear the howl of the coyote, or even teh bark.
I saw my first wild tarantula last visit to Joshua Tree, it kind of startled me, even though they are not poisonous. It is teh largest desert spider and is kind of freaky looking...but cool. It feeds on insects and may live in a burrow for years.
3 miles round trip.
Driving through the park it is hard to imagine that there could be such a thing as an oasis. They only exist in Bob hope and Bing Crosby movies, right? Well, there are actually five real oases with huge beautiful palm trees in the park.
Most people drive right along Joshua National Park on the I10 with the air-conditioning going full blast. But if you are heading west and you have the time, why not take a drive through the park up to Twentynine Palms and really enjoy the scenery. From Twentynine Palms you can continue your trip west along route 62 to Palm Springs. If the silence gets to you, you can always put U2's Joshua Tree on. 'Where the streets have no name' sure is a fitting title.
Landscape views. In the park you can see a wide variaty of animals almost anything from bobcats, cougars (pumas), coyote, Tarantulat spider to desert tortoise - often called 'land turtles'.
The Rock Formations in Joshua Tree National Park are fascinating. You can see these enormous rock piles at Jumbo Rocks, Wonderland of Rocks and at Indian Cove. It is molten liquid, heated by continous movement in the earth's crust, oozed upward and cooled while still below the earth's surface. Erosion caused the monzogranite rock to be exposed after millions of years. These rock formations are a good spots for rock climbers.
If their needles wouldn't be that sharp the Chollas would be cuddly. For a nice picture try shooting them towards the sunlight, the backlighting creates a halo-like radiance around the needles.
Take a drive to the Cholla Cactus Garden. It is easily accessible from the parking area on a short nature trail.