Joshua Tree | Death Valley | Mojave
California's desert national parks are the core of one of our nation's most expansive and unique ecosystems. These parks - Death Valley National Park, Mojave National Preserve, and Joshua Tree National Park - make up the largest concentration of national park lands in the lower 48 states. Consisting of 5.8 million acres, these parks overflow with cactus gardens and Joshua tree forests, hidden springs and palm oases, impressive rock formations, sand dunes that “sing,” rugged mountain ranges, fields of wildflowers, and multihued canyons.
Though deserts are often perceived as barren landscapes, these ecosystems sustain a considerable diversity of flora and fauna, including 100 year-old tortoises, 12,000 year-old creosote bushes, vibrant wildflowers, bighorn sheep, lizards, snakes, and other uniquely adapted plant and animal species. These parks also preserve human's history in the desert, spanning thousands of years.
While this region won important protections in 1994 with the passage of the California Desert Protection Act, the 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. At the same time, there is a historic opportunity to expand all three California desert national parks, to designate new wild and scenic rivers that protect crucial park waterways, and to create new national monuments and wilderness areas in the desert through Senator Dianne Feinstein’s California Desert Protection Act of 2010. For more information about the important land protections in this pending legislation, visit www.californiadesert.org.
NPCA's California Desert Program works collaboratively with desert communities to inform the public about issues concerning California's desert parks, involve the public in solutions to these issues, and encourage enjoyment and protection of park lands.