Exploring Joshua Tree National Park

Exploring Joshua Tree Park

Joshua Tree National Park is a 794,000 acre preserve just 140 miles east of Los Angeles, California. Within the park, more than 585,000 acres are designated as wilderness. The park is a unique convergence of two deserts, the Mojave and the Colorado deserts. Within the park, hundreds of plant species can be found. In addition the park is home to 250 species of birds, 40 species of reptiles and 52 species of mammals.

The Colorado Desert sits rests are lower than 3,000 ft elevation, while the Mojave is above 3,000 feet elevation. Each is home to a different landscape with the Colorado being home to plants like creosote bushes, ocotillo and jumping cholla. Wildlife includes hummingbirds, kangaroo rats, kit foxes, zebra tailed lizards and diamondback rattlesnakes. In the Mojave portion of the park plants include pinyon pines, yuccas, prickly pear cacti, scrub oaks and plenty of the parks’ namesake Joshua trees.

The Cottonwood campground is open year-round. The facility does not have hookups but does offer water and a dump station. Sites are available on a first come, first served basis. Visit nearby Cottonwood Spring for some excellent bird watching opportunities. There are 191 miles of trails within the park with some excellent hiking opportunities near the campground. White Tanks campground is another camping option. Within White Tanks you’re likely to see rock climbers enjoying the boulders, arches and other rocky outcrops.

For a great view of the park, try the Ryan Mountain Trail which leads to the 5,461 foot summit. Lost Horse Mine Trail is another popular hike, as is Barker Dam.

Entrance to the park is $15 for a seven day permit. An annual pass costs $30. While there are no campsites with hookups within the park, both the Black Rock and Cottonwood Campgrounds offer water and dump stations. Private campgrounds in nearby Yucca Valley, Twenty-nine Palms, Joshua Tree and Indio offer hookups.

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