Day 8; The Joshua Tree National Park

joshua-tree-park-entrance

Joshua Tree Park Entrance

Actually, the Joshua Tree is not a tree at all, but it is an unusual tree-like species of Yucca, a member of the Lily Family (Liliaceae), and sometimes considered in the Agave Family (Agavaceae).(ref: The Flower Society)

The Joshua Tree

The Joshua Tree

The Joshua Tree is a Desert Park

Joshua Tree National Park is huge. It covers nearly 800,000 acres and has infinitely variable nature.
During the summer months it can seem unwelcoming, even brutal due to the heat, but actually it is delicate and extremely fragile. This is a land shaped by strong winds, sudden torrents of rain, and climatic extremes. Rainfall is sparse and unpredictable. The rivers are usually dry and the waterholes are few. Viewed in summer, this land may appear defeated and dead, but within this arrid environment there are intricate living systems waiting for the opportune moment to reproduce.
The individuals, both plant and animal, that inhabit the park are not individualists. They depend on their entire ecosystem for survival.

Another one of the locals who came to greet us

Meet the Locals

Two deserts, two large ecosystems primarily determined by elevation, come together in the park. Few areas more vividly illustrate the contrast between “high” and “low” desert. Below 3,000 feet (910 m), the Colorado Desert (part of the Sonoran Desert), occupying the eastern half of the park, is dominated by the abundant creosote bush. Adding interest to this arid land are small stands of spidery ocotillo and cholla cactus.

A Joshue Tree Rock Formation

A Joshue Tree Rock Formation

The higher, slightly cooler, and wetter Mojave Desert is the special habitat of the undisciplined Joshua tree, extensive stands of which occur throughout the western half of the park. According to legend, Mormon pioneers considered the limbs of the Joshua trees to resemble the upstretched arms of Joshua leading them to the promised land. Others were not as visionary.
Early explorer John Fremont described them as “…the most repulsive tree in the vegetable Kingdom.”

Rocks in all shapes and sizes

Rocks in all shapes and sizes

The park also has some of the most interesting geologic displays found in California’s deserts. Rugged mountains of twisted rock and exposed granite monoliths testify to the tremendous earth forces that shaped and formed this land. Arroyos, playas, alluvial fans, bajadas, pediments, desert varnish, granites, aplite, and gneiss interact to form a giant mosaic of immense beauty and complexity. It’s a true sculpture park.
Today many people come to the park’s 794,000 acres of open space seeking clear skies and clean air, and the peace and tranquility, the quietude and beauty, only deserts offer.

It's the "Land of Little Rain"

It’s the “Land of Little Rain”

The life force is patient here. Desert vegetation, often appearing to have succumbed to this hot sometimes unrelentedly dry environment, lies dormant, awaiting the rainfall and moderate weather that will trigger its growth, painting the park a profusion of colors. At the edges of daylight and under clear night skies lives a number of generally unfamiliar desert animals. Waiting out daytime heat, these creatures run, hop, crawl, and burrow in the slow rhythm of desert life. Under bright sun and blue sky, bighorn sheep and golden eagles add an air of unconcerned majesty to this land.

A landscape of stunning beauty

A landscape of stunning beauty

For all its harshness, the desert is a land of extreme fragility. Today’s moment of carelessness may leave lasting scars or disrupt an intricate system of life that has existed for eons. When viewed from the roadside, the desert only hints at its hidden life. To the close observer, a tiny flower bud or a lizard’s frantic dash reveals a place of beauty and vitality. Take your time as you travel through Joshua Tree National Park. The desert provides space for self-discovery, and can be a refuge for the human spirit.

The best time to visit the Joshua Tree Park:

 

One of the most beautiful spectacles in spring is the creamy-white blossoms of Joshua trees. These white candles can be seen from February to late March. Joshua trees do not branch until after they bloom, and they don’t bloom every year. Fortunatly we visited the park in just the right season.

A Joshua Tree in Full Bloom

A Joshua Tree in Full Bloom

 

 Visit our “Joshua Tree Park Gallery

Tomorrow we shall be leaving Palm Springs and go through the desert to Kingman, Arizona

 

 Visit our “Joshua Tree Park Gallery

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