After living in the hustle and bustle of Southern California for two years, it’s hard to believe there are parts of the state so wide and open as Joshua Tree National Park. A drive through this massive park allows you to quickly realize the grandeur of the desert.
On this cool autumn day on Nov. 1, this park visit on was the 12th of our 12-park goal in 2014. We reached our goal!
What we found most intriguing about this park was that its boundary encompasses the junction of three of California’s ecosystems:
- The Colorado Desert
- A western extension of the Sonoran Desert
- The southern boundary of the Mojave Desert
We entered the park on the northern end, which is the Mojave Desert and is the habitat for Joshua trees — the park’s namesake. The “trees” are basically yuccas, like New Mexico’s state flower. The geology of gigantic monoliths served as the backdrop for the Joshua tree forest, making you feel like you an extra in a Flintstones episode.
For this park visit, we had a furry little companion. Our new puppy Remington is also quite adventurous, so we made sure to take him along on a short hike along the sandy Barker Dam trail.
Back in the car, we started to gain elevation along the scenic drive and soon we reached the beautiful Keys View, which provided amazing views of the Coachella Valley and the San Andreas Fault from atop the crest of the San Bernadino Mountains.
Then, as you make your way through the park and migrate out of the Mojave Desert, sitings of the Joshua trees start to fade. Soon, you begin to spot other types of desert fauna. While I had to imagine what it must be like when the desert is in bloom — especially what it would be like to see my favorite ocotillo cacti showcasing their unique red blossoms — it was still a breathtaking vista.
Next, we were eager to explore a California oasis. We had always thought the ubiquitous palm trees that Californians dream of were imports from a true tropical environment. However, we learned that the park was home to a number of palm tree oases. Sure enough … these little hidden desert springs are home to clusters of fan-palms.
Well, just like the other 11 parks we’ve visited, another trip to Joshua Tree might be in store as it would be wonderful to see that desert in bloom and maybe some camping with the Flintstones would be fun. Remington also is looking forward to another hike.