Joshua Tree National Park

IMG_1260Joshua Tree National Park is located 140 miles east of Los Angeles, encompassing 792,510 acres of the Mojave and Colorado deserts. This fragile and unique ecosystem is dominated by Joshua trees that are actually species of Yucca (Y. brevifolia in the west and Y. schidigera in the east). Slow-growing at only one inch per year, they can reach 40 feet tall and live up to 500 years. The one pictured above could very old indeed!

Home to a wide range of plants, animals and unusual rock formations, it offers camping and miles of trails. Being a desert, one must bring ample water and wear protection from the sun. The range between night and day temperatures can go from below freezing to over 100F. To live here, plants and animals must be very hardy!

I was fascinated by the geology and learned that the piles of granite boulders were formed when two tectonic plates collided. Here is a two-minute video explaining the process.

In the slideshow below, you can see snow-covered San Bernadino mountains that range east of Los Angeles beyond a forest of Joshua trees, different rock formations, cacti and the lovely textured bark of a Joshua tree. What a cool place to visit!

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About Eliza Waters

Gardener, writer, photographer, naturalist
This entry was posted in Field Notes, My Photos and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

100 Responses to Joshua Tree National Park

  1. arlingwoman says:

    Looks like you’re on a fabulous trip!

  2. Vicki says:

    What a majestic landscape. Those Joshua trees really are unique and I’m glad you were able to photograph them to share with us. It’s a sight I would never get to see myself.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thank you, Vicki. After seeing photos of them for years, it was a treat to see them in person. Much larger than I had imagined. It helps to give scale in photos!

  3. Jim R says:

    We saw some a few years ago. Quite unique. Nothing like that here. 😁

  4. Kris P says:

    You visited at the right time of year!

  5. sandyjwhite says:

    What a fascinating place. I had no idea Joshua trees had such a long life span!

  6. Looks like a wonderful trip for you. Did you get up to Truckee, or had enough of the snow already? Love Joshua, Death Valley, Eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas….

  7. Beautiful photos! I’m quite jealous as I’ve never managed a visit.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thank you, Loree. I thought of you while I walked around – you love it there and definitely need to schedule a visit some day. I got to see Kris P’s garden this trip, too. What a treat!

  8. Anne says:


  9. dawnbirdau says:

    Those trees are amazing. Always wanted to visit here

  10. naturebackin says:

    I love your photos and the Joshua trees are incredible. Deserts are truly fascinating and far richer in diversity and life than we often realise – made even more remarkable given the temperature extremes even in one day.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thank you, Carol. People often underestimate and dismiss desert ecosystems, all too often damaging them. They are teeming with life amazingly adapted to the harsh conditions.

      • naturebackin says:

        Sadly, the same view is pervasive here too and, for example, off-road driving is a real problem in desert areas, which some people with 4x4s regard as an unrestricted playground. One illustration of the fragility of the desert is the fact that in parts of Namibia where decades-old wagon-trails are still discernible in the sand, desert vegetation and lichens have failed to regrow in the tracks even after all this time.

      • Eliza Waters says:

        I’ve heard the same here, the habitats are so fragile. We saw a lot of off-road damage in Anza-Borrego State Park near the Salton Sea, a massive ecologic disaster area, IMO.

  11. naturebackin says:

    P,S. The video on the geological formations is very clear and interesting. Thanks for the link!

  12. Handsome. I’ve never seen one so thank you for the photos and explanation.

  13. Oh so lovely, Eliza! This park is on our bucket list if we ever make it to the West Coast, thank you for sharing!

  14. Robin says:

    It looks like such a beautiful and interesting place. Did you get to see the super bloom?

  15. Those trees! Perhaps growing slower conserves energy?

  16. Treah Pichette says:

    How wonderful to see such different plants than we are used to back east. I just finished reading Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey who wrote so well about the Southwest desert area so this posting is quite relevant. The sunlight looks blinding! Super photos!

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thank you! Sunglasses and hats were a must. I cannot imagine being there in the summer – the heat would do me in, for sure. I’ll have to put that book on my reading list. 🙂

  17. Your artistic eye travel with you, Eliza!

  18. Kathy Sturr says:

    What a fantastic and fascinating landscape Eliza! I enjoyed the video explanation as well. Such cool rocks and plants ❤ Soak up all that sun!

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thanks, Kathy. It was a treat to be away from winter (again, twice in one winter!) …I’ve been back 10 days. Today is mixed snow showers and we’re still a few weeks away from being snow-free. Getting there!

  19. Peter Herpst says:

    How nice to escape to the desert during the winter. Loved the video explaining the rick piles and your fab images.

  20. We visited Joshua Tree a good 20 years ago when they were having a spectacular bloom season. We camped overnight for few days. What an amazing landscape and memories.

  21. Alice Pratt says:

    You’ve been to some wonderful places! Looks so interesting. The Super Bloom was on the news here & how people were lying in & crushing flowers, to take selfies. I know there are thousands of flowers, but still.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      I was fortunate to see the super bloom before the crowds descended. The media coverage doesn’t help, but what can you do? There are not enough rangers to protect these areas. I had to speak to a woman who had actually picked blooms to hold up for her photo. Ignorance knows no bounds, sadly.

  22. Alice Pratt says:

    Well said!

  23. rabirius says:

    Excellent. It must be a very interesting place.

  24. Joshua Tree amazes me. Even though I was scared to death the first time I drove through. My mind was in a “breast feeding blurry state of mind” lol, and I accidentally took a wrong turn that lead us into the park. I was towing an RV, and it was HOT, mid July. Everything went well, I was just praying to not get a flat tire or something like that.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Ooh, what a story. I understand that element of terror. There have been several deaths in that park, so fear is not unfounded. As with any place with extreme conditions, caution must be foremost. Glad you made it out safely!

  25. Murtagh's Meadow says:

    Beautiful photos of an amazing place Eliza

  26. Jewels says:

    What an amazing and interesting place, Eliza! 😊

  27. Irene says:

    Amazing! Didn’t realize they grew so slowly.

  28. Loved your slide show. This place has been on my wish list to visit for a very long time!

  29. Jet Eliot says:

    Oh, lucky you Eliza, got to visit Joshua Tree NP. I love that park, it’s so expansive and different, and the Joshua trees are so quirky and unique, they’re all so different from another and you never know what you’re going to find. How beautiful to see the mountains with snow. And at this time of year I am sure there were less people around. Your photos are lovely, thanks for this vicarious trip.

  30. Joanna says:

    Another place I’d LOVE to visit someday! Thank you for sharing your trip! 🙂

  31. tonytomeo says:

    That is SO rad! I saw Joshua trees for the first time in about 1986 or so, when Lancaster was still a somewhat small town. I never saw the Yucca schidigera in the wild though.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thank you, Tony. The other Yucca is on the eastern side, closer to Arizona.

      • tonytomeo says:

        My Yucca schidigera was from that isolated colony in San Diego County, that is nowhere near the rest of the natural range. I thought it compelling at the time, but now I wonder how different it might be from those that live so much farther to the East.

  32. Those Joshua trees are amazing. And what a dramatic landscape. Beautifully captured.

  33. Cathy says:

    Amazing trees. A friend recently showed me holiday photos of the Arizona desert and I was fascinated by the plants growing there. What a challenging climate for human and plant life alike. 🙂

  34. Beautiful photos and what a wonderful vacation!!🙂 It probably would not be a surprise that it was music that drew me to Joshua Tree National Park almost twenty years ago since The Joshua Tree by U2 remains one of my all-time favorite albums. I’m so glad you included the video since I was also fascinated by the geology and I loved the wonderful slideshow!🙂

  35. Very interesting Eliza. Such unusual trees. Thanks for sharing your travels with us.

  36. ladyfi says:

    Wow – beautiful!

  37. Most impressive trees and landscape!

  38. AmyRose🌹 says:

    What a powerful place, Eliza. The scenery is breathtaking!!! WOW!

  39. Indie says:

    I’m always amazed to go to a desert and find so much life there in such harsh conditions. What an amazing trip! The desert has its own beauty.

  40. Super post and photos of these unique trees and amazing place.

  41. Maria says:

    Great images. Joshua trees are intriguing.

  42. ourcrossings says:

    Great post and fantastic photos, this is definitely one of the parks I would love to visit one day 😀

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