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Joshua Tree

A several hundred year old Joshua Tree at Joshua Tree National Park, California.


Joshua Tree National Park is in the high desert of Southeastern California, roughly 20 miles east of Palm Springs. Even though it's close to the lush desert oasis of the wealthy, when walking through JTNP you feel as though you've reached the end of the earth. If there's any place on the contintental US that would make a good location for a movie set on Mars, Joshua Tree just may be the best spot. Most National Parks, such as Mount Rainier, Yosemite, or The Grand Canyon, are among the most spectacular natural wonders of the world, with grandeur and beauty that are awe-inspiring. Frankly, these are not the words one would typically use to describe Joshua Tree National Park. It seems that "strange" and "other-worldly" are the more accurate descriptions. Enormous piles of boulders cover the landscape, as if the park were a rock quarry for extraterrestrials. And of course, there are the ubiquitous Joshua Trees. In this writer's opinion, Joshua Trees are the misshapen oddities of the plant kingdom. Their appearance is reminscient of a strange scientific experiment of cross-pollinating a saguaro cactus with a Japanese Bonsai tree. The great explorer and general John Charles Fremont once said the Joshua Tree "is the most repulsive tree in the vegetable kingdom". Like many other plants an animals, what they lack in charming appearance, they more than make up for in their vigor and adaptation to the environment. Joshua Trees are found in altitudes between 2,000 and 6,000 feet in the high deserts of California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. These are especially inhospitable climates in which most vegetation whatsoever cannot live due to the intense heat, vast temperature extremes and minimal rainfall of the Southwestern desert. However, the Joshua Tree is very well adapted to the harsh environment, and is one of the few trees that are indigenous to the desert. It can tolerate temperature extremes from a low of 0 degrees Fahrenheit to highs over 120F. They grow only two feet every ten years, so keep this in mind if you go there and see trees there that are over 40 feet tall. Even though this isn't the most enthusiastic of reviews, I still recommend that you experience Joshua Tree National Park, particularly if you happen to be in Palm Springs. If rock climbing is your thing, then JTNP is your spot, as the opportunities are plentiful. Good camping spots are also abundant, and will provide campfire astronmers some of the most incredible views of the stars that literally blanket the sky.


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Joshua Tree Boulders

Huge boulders are plentiful in Joshua Tree National Park.

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