Eco-Photo Explorers has just completed a photographic expedition to the Joshua Tree National Monument in Southwestern California. Traversing the National Park from North to South, we explored the various geological wonders of this magnificently stark wilderness landscape and photographed some of its most stunning vistas. In addition to the jumbled rock formations, we stood in awed silence as we gazed across fields of Joshua Trees, the obvious inspiration for the name of the park.
The Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia) is a unique member of the Lily family. In this park the southernmost stands of these species exist in harmony with the varying desert environments. The trees got their names in the 1850s from traveling Mormons, who were passing through the Mojave Desert on their way to San Bernadino. The trees reminded them of the biblical Joshua who, with his outstretched arms, beckoned them to the Promised Land.
The Joshua Tree grows slowly and lives for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The largest tree in the park is well over 40 feet in height and may be over 1,000 years old. Inside the park, travelers will pass by a multitude of environments since the park actually represents the convergence of two desert climates…the Colorado and the Mojave. In some areas, large formations of monzogranite create breathtaking sites while in others, jumbled piles of Pinto Gneiss (a metamorphic rock whose origin occurs five to ten miles beneath the Earth’s surface) occupy the landscape. The elevation in the park ranges from 1,900 feet to 5,100 feet with daytime temperatures varying from 62 degrees in winter to 103 degrees in the summer.
Although precipitation is light (4 inches annually), we encountered a rare snowfall during our expedition. Due to the El Nino of 1997-98, the desert has received much higher amounts of rainfall, and as a result, wildflowers are in bloom in abundance. We also encountered stands of Ocatillo Trees, Yucca and various cacti in our journey. Lizards and insects can also be found, along with larger mammals such as Coyote, Fox and Big Horn Sheep.
Joshua Tree National Park is located nearby to
the desert oasis city of Palm Springs. It is a haven
for nature photographers, desert enthusiasts,
naturalists and geologists. Rock climbing, camping,
hiking and photography are he main pursuits of the
visitors. Consider visiting this special place next
time you plan a desert adventure!
Map of Southern California - Location of
Joshua Tree National Park.
Joshua Tree National Park - Learn more about Joshua Tree National Park.
National Park Service - Learn more about our Nations National Parks.
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