Ruggedly beautiful desert scenery attracts more than a million visitors each year to Joshua Tree National Park, one of the last great wildernesses in the continental United States. Its mountains support mounds of enormous boulders and jagged rock; natural cactus gardens and lush oases shaded by tall fan palms mark the meeting place of the Mojave (high) and Sonora (low) deserts. Extensive stands of Joshua trees gave the park its name; the plants (members of the yucca family of shrubs) reminded Mormon pioneers of the biblical Joshua, with their thick, stubby branches representing the prophet raising his arms toward heaven.
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Things You Can't Miss
Joshua Tree’s arid landscape is carpeted with wildflowers in the spring. Check the weekly staff report for what’s in bloom where.
Joshua Tree is a prime spot for stargazing. Bring your binoculars or telescope for Milky Way viewing. Check with the visitors centers for night sky programs.
On a round-trip hike to 49 Palms Oasis, you’ll see red barrel cacti and maybe some bighorn sheep lounging in the shade of the palms at the pools.
Drive yourself on an 18-mile geology tour with 16 points of interest along the way. Pick up a brochure at any of the visitors centers for a map.
More than 250 kinds of bird species have been sighted in the park. You might see a roadrunner, cactus wren, osprey, prairie falcon or red-tailed hawk.
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Must Reads Before You Go
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