Joshua Tree National Park

The park is in Southeastern California, in the Mojave Desert.  It is naturally divided into two parts; each part is a plateau at different altitudes.  The western part is the higher of the two at about 6000 feet.  The eastern plateau is lower at about 3000 feet.  The vegetation is drastically different in the two areas, as you might imagine.

This view is from the high point of the park looking west for about 70 or 80 miles.  This is part of the lower Mojave  Desert.  The valley floor you can see is at about sea level.  Further south the altitude drops below sea level; almost as low as Death Valley.






This is a Joshua Tree.  It was so named by one of the Mormons on their trek to Utah because it seemed to be pointing the way to the Promise Land.  I am not sure how big the tree gets.  The largest I saw was only about 15-20 feet high.






The trees seem to grow in forests.  There were several hundred in this group.




In the lower altitude, eastern part the most prevalent growth was the Cholla cactus.  They often grow in large fields, too close together to walk through.  Some people say that the spines of the Cholla actually leap out and attack you as you walk by; in fact, this particular variety is called "Jumping Cholla".  They don't actually jump, of course, but the spines are very sharp and slightly barbed and the slightest touch will have them embedded in clothing or skin.





This is another cactus that is prevalent here.  I think it is a variety of Spanish Bayonet and it is common throughout the Southwestern deserts.




Also in this area were a number of different wildflowers.  This one appears to be some kind of lily.







I have no idea what this is but they were quite common in the area.


The Joshua Tree National Park is definitely worth seeing.  There are a number of primitive campgrounds within the park   There are two northern entrances to the park; one at 29 Palms and the other at Joshua Tree.  Both California towns have full-service campgrounds.