Living in Los Angeles for the last 10 years, I always wondered why I would hear people talking so much about Joshua Tree. “Isn’t it just a bunch of land out in the middle of the desert?” I would ask. I would never get a straight answer that I was satisfied with, being told that I would just have to go myself to discover why so many people would go. If you know me, I usually look at reasoning processes like the above with more than a hint of skepticism. It’s time to admit, that I was wrong.
Joshua tree lies a short 30 mi outside of the quirky Palm Springs. Close enough for a day trip out of Las Angeles, yet remote enough to be completely secluded from society, there is a surprising amount of life thriving in this ecosystem. There are an astounding 250 species of birds, 46 species of reptiles, 57 mammal species, and countless amounts of invertebrates. Butterflies along have a total of 756 species residing in the park.
The park is a combination of 2 deserts, the Colorado and the Mojave, leading to two very different types of ecosystems. they key difference is elevation. The Colorado thrives below 3,000 feet. In contrast, the Mojave claims the western half of the park above 3000 ft and is where you will find more of the famous namesake of the park, the Joshua Tree.
Human interaction started slowly after the last ice age with the Pinto People, who lived along the once lush Pinto Basin. Modern humans started inhabiting the area in the late 19th century searching for riches and gold. Many of the off roading trails available today are remnants of those gold mining times.
Interestingly, there are three species of Joshua Tree and they can only be found in the Mojave Desert. If you’re lucky and visit between February and April during a wet year, you can see the Joshua Trees bloom a cream white flower. Happening only in extremely rainy years, this is a sight many people try to catch every year but walk away disappointed.
Closest Supercharger: Indio Ca 27 mi
42100 Jackson St, Indio, CA 92203
Joshua Tree National Park