Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Joshua Tree National Park

We drove 38 miles from our r.v. park near Salton City to the south entrance of Joshua Tree National Park. There are two entrances from the north, also. The drive we took through the park was 63 miles on paved road. With only short stops along the route, the drive through the park is estimated to take up to 4 hours. Although we had seen many miles of desert during our recent travels, we still found Joshua Tree Nation Park to be beautiful! Unlike our experience with Organ Pipe Cactus National Park, Joshua Tree National Park felt very safe and welcoming. The park road is interesting in that it follows the transition zone between two distinct desert environments! The eastern half of the park is the Colorado Desert. It lies below an elevation of 3,000'. The western half of the park is the higher elevation Mojave Desert, which is home to the Joshua Trees. It is only after the junction in the road where you must decide to head north to the community of Twenty Nine Palms or follow the road west that the Joshua Trees appear.
The Colorado Desert is a sub-region of the vast Sonoran Desert.
This is a walkway at the visitor's center.
The Colorado Desert is made up of broad plains of sand, rocks, mountains and a variety of scrub bushes.
It's interesting how certain types of cacti will suddenly appear in mass and then just as quickly be gone. We've notice that they seem to come and go with the elevation. The cacti you see are called Cholla, pronounced Choy-ya.  The double L in Spanish is pronounced as Y.
The rock ridge was created by a magma chamber that at one time would have been below the ground surface. You can see evidence of the chamber in the exposed rocks on the hillside. Over time the exposed rocks are sculpted by the weather.
This is a nice view back through the park. From the south entrance the park road gradually climbs in elevation to the higher Mohave Desert.
Along the park road are wonderful campgrounds with easy access. There are 9 campgrounds within the park offering a range of amenities. I would recommend staying at least one night in the park for a more leisurely tour and time to hike some trails.
It seems there aren't any Joshua Trees and all of a sudden you round a bend and there they are in their magnificence! Amazing!
They are reported to only grow about 3 inches a year for their first 10 years and then slow to a growth of only an inch a year! They grow to around 49' tall and can live for hundreds of years up to a thousand years old!  Wow! That's something to think about!