Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Joshua Tree National Park

The Joshua Tree is an iconic plant in the Mojave Desert, and having never seen one before, Bob and I wanted to visit the National Park that bears its name.

We entered the park at the South Entrance, and had only driven a few miles when Bob pointed out a small tortoise poised at the edge of the road and starting to cross. I made Bob stop the car and I hopped out to check the little guy out.
He pulled himself inside his shell when he saw me coming, and no amount of sweet talk would entice him out. Not wanting to leave him in the road, I moved him to the ditch on the other side, where he had been heading and we continued on to the Visitors Center. There, I told a Ranger about the encounter and she asked me to fill out a card stating where the tortoise was and what happened. She told me that it is illegal to touch Desert Tortoises ordinarily, but since it's ok to save the tortoise's life it was good that I moved him. They are on the Endangered List and sightings are rare. Such a treat to have seen one!
The South end of the park is located in the Colorado Desert; the elevation is lower and there's a lot of sand, Mojave Yuccas, Smoke Trees, and Ocotillas.
This area is called the Cholla ("choya") Cactus Garden, after the fuzzy-looking cholla cacti. Don't be fooled--they are prickly!
There are Jumbo Rocks a little farther on. We kept driving and eventually came to the highest lookout in the park, Keys View, at over 5100 feet above sea level.
 From the lookout we could see the neighboring towns of Indio, Palm Desert, and Palm Springs.
 Had to take a selfie!
The topography kept changing as we headed to the West Gate and the Colorado Desert became the Mojave Desert. This is a Joshua Tree, named by Mormon pioneers who thought the limbs of the trees resembled the up stretched arms of Joshua leading them to the promised land.
The flowers were blooming in this stand of Joshua Trees--a beautiful sight. The southern region of JTNP has no Joshua Trees, we learned. I was glad we were able to drive from end to end and see the scenery change so drastically. 

On Wednesday we head on to Bakersfield! 


  1. Illegal to even touch one?! What would the punishment have been if the ranger had decided that she didn't like you?

  2. if I had been harassing it there could have been a hefty fine. I heard a ranger talk about some kids who killed a large rattlesnake by running over it with their skateboards until it was dead, and their parents received a $500 fine.