California has an incredible number of National Parks within its borders. And each one of them couldn’t be more different from the rest. But Joshua Tree National Park might be the best of the best, an experience that people from around the world travel to have.
Its combination of an otherworldly desert landscape and its plethora of namesake Joshua Trees give it a vibe that cannot be found in any other National Park. That would be enough but there’s more to this wonderous park than that.
Two deserts meet in a park…
At the core of Joshua Tree is an interesting ecological contradiction. Two deserts with distinctly different ecosystems cross paths here. Yet, they also manage to work in unison, creating one of the most interesting places on Earth.
Part of the larger Sonoran Desert, the Colorado Desert encompasses Coachella Valley as well as the Salton Sea, which is hundreds of feet below sea level. It’s also home to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, a popular spot within easy driving distance of San Diego.
The Mojave Desert is the second one that makes an appearance in Joshua Tree National Park. While the Colorado Desert is relatively low, the Mojave Desert is much higher. Several mountain ranges border it on all sides, with few people living in the central basin.
While it might seem like all deserts are the same, nothing could be further from the truth. The Colorado and Mojave Deserts could not be more different, with each one of them offering their own experiences to take in.
Stunning flora and fauna
A big example of this is the Joshua Trees, which are only endemic to the Mojave Desert. It’s considered to be an indicator species. That means spotting them is how you know you’re in that specific desert in the first place.
These trees are a massive draw for the park itself. They gave Joshua Tree its name, and continue to be a reason why so many people decide to travel there. But the flora and fauna of the park, and each desert, offers so much more than that.
More than 250 bird species reputedly inhabit the overall park. It’s considered by many to be a birdwatcher’s paradise, as long as you know what you’re looking for, where to look for it, and when it might be out. Some birds are only out at specific times of the day or during migration.
If you’re looking to do some animal spotting, keep in mind that the bulk of the species that live in Joshua Tree are nocturnal. Unlike people, they’re smart enough to not go out in the heat. But at night, the park comes alive with mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and more.
Joshua Tree experience
Naturally, a large part of the Joshua Tree National Park experience hinges on the flora and the fauna, specifically the Joshua Trees, themselves. But if that’s not your deal, then the park also has a lot more to see and do.
Camping and hiking are popular pastimes in Joshua Tree. Over the years, it’s also become an incredibly popular spot for rock climbing, as well. Some have said that there are thousands of climbing routes, with several only open during specific seasons.
A huge reason to head out to Joshua Tree is the stargazing. The lack of urban light pollution combined with the terrain has created perfectly dark skies. As such, stargazers, amateur astronomers, and more flock to the park on a regular basis to check out the night sky.
Joshua Tree National Park is a huge draw because of its namesake foliage but there is so much more to it than that. This is a place to experience the natural world on a level that can be hard to find in other places. That’s why this National Park was founded.