Joshua 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!