Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree is an oft forgotten jewel overshadowed by the likes of Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Death Valley.  But, for those looking for great hikes, rock climbing, rappelling, and the unique Joshua tree, this park has much to offer. Stunning rock formations rise abundantly from the desert park ripe for a scramble, climb or rapel. Hikers will be rewarded with great desert views and foliage, particularly in the February through May timeframe, as well as Joshua trees in various life stages.

Joshua Tree National Park's 794,000 acres preserve portions of two desert ecosystems, the Mojave and Colorado deserts of Southern California. 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 and Mojave yucca. The transition between the two deserts sports a high diversity of plants because it is compressed by the park's abrupt elevation changes. The Little San Bernardino Mountains, above 4,000 feet in the park's western most area, host a third ecosystem: California juniper and pinyon pine. The western part of the park also includes some of the most interesting geologic displays found in California's deserts and is a mecca for rock climbers from around the world. In addition, five fan palm oases dot the park, indicating those few areas where water occurs naturally and wildlife abounds.

The plant diversity of these three ecosystems is matched by their animal diversity, including healthy herds of bighorn sheep, desert tortoise, small mammals, 18 species of lizards and 25 species of snakes. In addition, Joshua Tree lies astride the Pacific flyway, thus hosting over 200 species of birds throughout the year. Humans have occupied the area encompassed by Joshua Tree for at least 5,000 years, leaving a rich cultural history. As a result, the park protects 501 archeological sites, 88 historic structures, and 19 cultural landscapes, and its museum collection houses 123,253 items. Considering that archeological surveys have been conducted for less than 5% of the park, we have only learned a fraction of what the park offers us.

If You Go

Explorers should be sure to bring plenty of water as the park receives lots of sun and, consequently, the temperature rises significantly throughout the day. A full tank of gas is also wise as the park is quite expansive.

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Threats

While this region won important protections in 1994 with the passage of the California Desert Protection Act, these desert parks are increasingly endangered by the sprawling growth of southern California and Nevada, environmentally-threatening policies, and lack of funding for the parks' protection and management.

NPCA's California Desert Field Office seeks to inform the public about issues concerning California's desert parks, including Joshua Tree National Park, involve the public in solution to these issues, and encourage enjoyment and protection of park lands.

As an example of NPCA's work, for years Joshua Tree National Park has been threatened by the proposed Eagle Mountain Landfill in Riverside County. Operation of what would be the world's largest garbage dump—surrounded on three sides by Joshua Tree National Park's wilderness—would threaten the health of the desert ecosystem that Joshua Tree protects. NPCA has been working for more than a decade to protect the park from this proposed landfill.

On November 10, 2009 the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a previous court decision overturning the land exchange necessary for the development of what would be the world's largest garbage dump on the boundary of Joshua Tree National Park. The court ruling is a landmark victory for Joshua Tree National Park's bighorn sheep, desert tortoises, and the 1.3 million people who come here every year to enjoy this beloved national park.

To learn more about decision, read the full court ruling

Read more about the proposed landfill project

Air pollution is among the most serious threats to national parks. The National Park Service has established the NPS air quality webcam network to show “live” digital images of more than a dozen parks. Click here to see current air conditions at Joshua Tree National Park.

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WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Ryan

May 21, 2013

I like joshua tree. It has beautiful scenery. I have to do a project on it and it is so fun and interesting. I never knew a desert could be so interesting.

ezerasurfer

April 13, 2013

Joshua Tree National Park changes dramatically with each season, making every visit different and exciting. In wet/warm years the wildflower show will knock your socks off! People come from around the world to watch the desert pavement come alive with vividly colorful floral displays. This year winter saw the park blanketed with snow. Even during the hottest of summer days,visitors can relax at the park's cool, temperate oases.

Dale

February 9, 2013

After I was first married in the early 80's my wife wanted to tskr mr to Yuccs Valley and to see Joshua Tree. As we were driving from the Central Valley and the ricj=h farm lands to South into Mojave I was thinking why in God's name would anyone want to come here but once I got to the Monument and saw the beauty I was hooked. No matter the time of the year we came it was always new and exciting. I have since lost my first wife Leela after twenty years of a great life together. I am now in Albama and have a new wife that I can't wait to ttake west to see the beaty of the Park. And watch it grow on her as it did me. I am so glad that we are able to give each month, Ionly wish it could be more. The Parks need all our help. I urge you to give each month if it is only a few dollars if enough would just give 25.00 per month just about how much that would be if all who love our parks gave. I urge you to consider giving each month. These Parks are our crown jewels that we need to protect. Bless All and enjoy your next vist. Dale Luttrell

junior ranger jack elizebeth diez

May 10, 2012

i like joshua tree

Ray

November 10, 2011

Joshua Tree National Park changes dramatically with each season, making every visit different and exciting. In wet/warm years the wildflower show will knock your socks off! People come from around the world to watch the desert pavement come alive with vividly colorful floral displays. This year winter saw the park blanketed with snow. Even during the hottest of summer days,visitors can relax at the park's cool, temperate oases.

Jake

November 10, 2011

While camping at the Hidden Valley campgrond near Cap Rock, we woke to, what sounded like, one hundred coyotes all around us! What an amazing place! Spiritual even.

GG

November 10, 2011

When I was a newlywed in the 70s, my California-bred husband took me to Joshua Tree. I was so moved by the stark, silent beauty that I cried. We hiked around in search of the remnants of an old cabin that he had viaited as a boy, which someone had built many years before, leaving a note that all could use it but to please leave it clean. In the years since he had last gone there, someone had burned it down. I am grateful to you for sticking with this lawsuit.

Jack

November 10, 2011

My parents bought a retirement house here in Joshua Tree in the '70's. We always loved our hikes & picnics in the "Monument". Wonderful that the Monument became a national park during the Clinton administration. Hooray for the Supreme Court's latest ruling protecting this special place. I'm now retired myself & pleased to call JT my home...

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