Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park At Sunset (Photo: Namolik Design and Photography/Shutterstock)

Joshua Tree National Park is the home of two distinct and opposite desert ecosystems. The Colorado Desert encompasses the hot, arid eastern section of the park; where most of the scenery consists of gravel-like rock, and creosote bush, which adds much needed greenery to the vast and dry area. Visitors may come across the light green shrub-like cholla cactus, or spy an ocotillo flower, with its tall, green, pencil thin stems and pretty red flowers adorning the top. 


Joshua Tree National Park - (Photo: S.Borisov/Shutterstock)

On the western section of the park, the Mojave desert claims its territory. At a 3,000 foot elevation, the Mojave desert is cooler, wetter and provides a refreshing change in scenery from the the lower Colorado desert. The Joshua Tree, with its branches seemingly stretching toward the heavens, and the Mojave Yucca, with its long, spider-like tendrils, can be seen peppering  the Mojave desert. The Joshua Tree received its name from Mormon pioneers who were reminded of the Old Testament story of Joshua beckoning them into the promised land with his arms outstretched when they looked upon the tree’s branches. 

A Storm Passes Through (Photo: Martin Froyda/Shutterstock)

Blooming Cactus (Photo: Romiana Lee/Shutterstock)

Silhouetted Joshua Tree At Sunset (Photo: Aneta Waberska/Shutterstock)

Blooming Cactus & Joshua Tree (Photo: Romiana Lee/Shutterstock)

Two distinct desert ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado, come together in Joshua Tree National Park. A fascinating variety of plants and animals make their homes in a land sculpted by strong winds and occasional torrents of rain. Dark night skies, a rich cultural history, and surreal geologic features add to the wonder of this vast wilderness in southern California. Come explore for yourself.
— NPS

Plan your trip for springtime and you might catch a glimpse of the wildflowers in bloom, which provide a beautiful and colorful contrast against the rugged and rocky desert background. Keep your eyes peeled for the Mojave Thistle, a raw, thorny beauty with pale pink tendrils. 

If your trip allows, take a stroll at sunset to view the vibrant, yet dainty desert sand-verbena, whose colors respond best to the soft evening light. Plan to stay a few days to give yourself time to take in the rich, dynamic scenery Joshua Tree National Park has to offer and breathe in the refreshing, restorative power of the desert. 

A Dramatic Sunrise Over Rock Formations In Joshua Tree National Park (Photo: Nickolay Stenev/Shutterstock)