Reflections and recommendations from an ever-growing base of fans, including #ThoseParkGuys from the hit show, “Rock the Park”!
In an area known as the lonely triangle, located in the California desert between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, lies Mojave National Preserve. The park is a wonderland for adventure-seekers and those looking for quiet in an ever-deafening world. It is home to abundant wildlife, ranging from slow-crawling desert tortoises to far-roaming bighorn sheep. The world’s largest Joshua tree forest and plants that are thousands of years old make their home in the park. Every cloud-free night, the park’s dark night skies open portals to the universe, awakening the astronomers in all of us.
The park helped open my eyes and change longstanding, false beliefs of what the desert is. My old stereotypes of tumbleweeds are replaced by white flowers springing out of Yucca plants and tortoises painting their lips red with the juices of cactus flowers. The desert is not a barren place, but a vibrant one, alive with all kinds of specially adapted creatures.
Sitting on a rock at the top of Teutonia Peak with the wind in my ears and Joshua trees far below my swinging hiking boots remains one of the many unforgettable moments that I have experienced in my first few visits to Mojave National Preserve. With more than half a million annual visitors and an enthusiastic fan base, I wanted to see what about Mojave National Preserve inspires others.
Jack Steward, Host of “Rock the Park”
“The desert is such a wonderfully intense environment, and the beauty that lies within the Mojave is unlike any other place that I have ever been. The landscape inspires me — it gives me a place to explore, not only in the traditional sense but within the spiritual realm as well. We always talk about the national parks as if they’re out of this world. Well, the Mojave National Preserve completely embodies that idea. You can really feel connected to the rest of the world and even the universe. Come out and experience the beauty, solitude and clarity that the Mojave Desert provides. It’s truly a special place.”
Mary Martin, Former Superintendent of Mojave National Preserve
“I love hiking to the top of a mountain peak in the New York or Granite Mountains and sitting, experiencing the quiet, while letting my imagination run. I imagine I’m the only person as far as my eye can see and, most of the time, I believe that is true. I think about the explorers and cavalry who came through the area for the first time and am in awe. There are but a few precious places in this country where one can feel so alone and in touch with the earth and sky.”
Students from Los Angeles visit Mojave National Preserve, many for the first time. Video © NPCA.
Colton Smith, Host of “Rock the Park”
“Watching and participating in the star party was such an unforgettable experience. I witnessed a group composed of all different age groups, ethnicities and backgrounds gathering together to experience a night under the desert sky. For me, that night encapsulated the reason why our national parks are so special.”
David Lamfrom, Director of NPCA’s California Desert and Wildlife Programs
“Mojave National Preserve is a desert wonderland. The diversity of habitats is awe-inspiring. Within the course of a day you can explore the world’s largest Joshua tree forest, slide down a giant dune system, crawl through a lava tube, be guided through a cave system, climb an 8,000-foot mountain, enjoy blooming cactus and yucca gardens, and enjoy the sunset amid beautiful mesas. After a spectacular sunset, the night sky emerges and is as brilliant as almost any place in the country. The preserve is also one of the best places to view wildlife. It is home to desert tortoise, bighorn sheep, badger, kit fox, coyote, mountain lion, bobcat and ringtails. I have spent thousands of hours exploring the preserve, and I find it to be one of the most pristine, naturally quiet and ecologically diverse landscapes I have ever encountered.”
Neal Darby, Wildlife Biologist for Mojave National Preserve
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“You don’t know how many times I’ve heard that the Mojave Desert is a wasteland, ‘nothing out there.’ After we put some remote motion-activated cameras around the preserve in 2005, we knew we had something special. The diversity of wildlife is incredible. From reptiles to birds to mammals, the 61 documented species that make their homes in Mojave National Preserve are regularly photographed by the remote cameras. But, you really don’t need a hidden camera. Just take the time to sit and listen and be patient, and you will see for yourself.“
What inspires you about Mojave National Preserve or our other stunning national parks in the California desert? Share your feedback in the comments, or at MyParkStory.
About the author
Kati Schmidt Associate Director, Communications, Pacific, Alaska, Northern Rockies, Northwest, Southwest
Kati Schmidt is based in Oakland, CA, and leads media outreach and communications for the Pacific, Northwest, Northern Rockies, Alaska, and Southwest regions, along with NPCA's national wildlife initiatives.