Joshua Tree National Park
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.
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.
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.