Joshua Tree National Park Near Sunnyvale Garden Suites
Joshua Tree National Park is open year-round to those seeking a true desert wildernes. There are few facilities within the park’s approximately 800,000 acres, which is locarted just a few hours outside Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, and Phoenix. Approximately 2.8 million visitors come to the Joshua Tree National Park each year to enjoy variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, photography, rock climbing, and simply enjoying the serene desert scenery. The busy season runs from October through May.Address: California.
The area enclosed by the park was declared a National Monument in 1936, a Biosphere Reserve in 1984 and finally a National Park in 1994. The name Joshua Tree was reportedly given by a band of Mormons who crossed the Mojave Desert in the mid-19th century, the tree’s unique shape reminding them of a Biblical story in which Joshua reaches his hands up to the sky.
Two deserts, two large ecosystems whose characteristics are determined primarily by elevation, come together at Joshua Tree National Park. Below 3,000 feet, the Colorado Desert encompasses the eastern part of the park and features natural gardens of creosote bush, ocotillo, and cholla cactus. The higher, moister, and slightly cooler Mojave Desert is the special habitat of the Joshua tree. In addition to Joshua tree forests, the western part of the park also includes some of the most interesting geologic displays found in California’s deserts. Five fan palm oases also dot the park, indicating those few areas where water occurs naturally and wildlife abounds.
Flora and Fauna
While it may at first appear lifeless, the desert supports many plants and myriads of creatures which become active during the evening and early morning. Joshua trees are the park’s best-known plant, but oaks and junipers are also common, and in spring, wildflowers carpet the sand, and cacti bloom in vivid colors. Lizards, tarantulas, and rattlesnakes may be found among the rocks. Birds in the park include burrowing owls, vultures, golden eagles, and roadrunners. Coyotes are commonly seen near the park roads making their rounds. Jackrabbits and the shy kangaroo rats emerge from their dens in the evenings to forage. Bobcats are less frequently seen, but a lucky traveler might catch one silhouetted against the moonlight.
Days are typically clear with less than 25 percent humidity. Nights are much cooler than days. Temperatures are most comfortable in the spring and fall, with an average high/low of 85 and 50°F (29 and 10°C) respectively. Winter brings cooler days, around 60°F (15°C), and freezing nights. It occasionally snows at higher elevations. Summers are hot, over 100°F (38°C) during the day and not cooling much below 75°F (24°C) until the early hours of the morning.
- The Joshua Tree National Park Annual Pass, $40 for 12 months;
- Vehicle entry, $30 for 7 days;
- Walk-in/bike entry, $12 for 7 days.
- Alternatively, the new (as of January 1st, 2007) National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass can be purchased for $80 and allows free entry to all National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and U.S. Forest Service sites where entrance or standard amenity fees are charged for one year.
Getting Around the Park
By car: The main roads through the park are paved and easily accessible to passenger vehicles. Several dirt roads through the park may also be passable by automobiles, although conditions often require high-clearance, four-wheel drive vehicles; check at the ranger stations for current road conditions.
By foot: There are numerous trails throughout the park. They are not blazed but do have signposts occasionally and are easy to follow, although the sandy paths make for rugged hikes. Be sure to carry and drink lots of water while hiking. Backcountry hiking and camping are allowed, but you must bring your own water, as what little water there is in the park is reserved for wildlife.
By bike: Many of the park trails and roads are excellent for mountain biking; check at a ranger station for options.
Things To See
Things to See
- Hidden Valley. Located in the northern portion of the park, a short trail leads through boulders to an old cattle rustler’s hideout.
- Barker Dam. Built in the early 1900’s to hold water for cattle and mining use, today the area is a rain-fed reservoir attracting local wildlife.
- Keys View. This overlook, with an elevation of 5,185 feet above sea level, is an extremely popular spot for watching the sunset. On rare clear days the view extends over the Salton Sea to Mexico.
- Geology Tour Road. Four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended (but not always necessary, check with rangers) for this eighteen mile dirt road. Along this route are numerous interesting geologic formations and trails.
- Cholla Cactus Garden. A short walk leads through a thick stand of cholla cactus, noted for its especially prickly exterior.
- Cottonwood Springs. Located near the south entrance of the park, Cottonwood Springs is a desert oasis that offers a respite from the arid lands around it. Willows and birds are found in abundance near this natural spring.
There are many great trails in Joshua Tree National Park:
- Boy Scout Trail (16 miles / 25.8 km). A scenic trail through the edge of the Wonderland of Rocks that is moderately strenuous.
- 49 Palms Oasis Trail (3 miles / 4.8 km). A hike to an oasis surrounded by stands of fan palms and pools of water. Moderately strenuous.
- Lost Horse Mine/Mtn. Trail (4 miles / 6.4 km). Site of ten-stamp mill. The summit elevation is 5,278 feet (1,609m). Moderately strenuous.