Travel Photos: Joshua Tree National Park (California)
For something a little closer to home than the prior travel photos here on Rossputin.com, I take you to Joshua Tree National Park, roughly east of Palm Springs and south of Twenty-Nine Palms (home to a large US Marine base) in the California desert.
The Park which was, from its founding in 1936 until 1994, categorized as a National Monument, is about a 3 1/2 hour drive east of Los Angeles and about a 5 hour drive south of Las Vegas.
This map will give you an idea of the location. The red star marks the town of Twentynine Palms.
You can find a lot of information about the Park at this site:
And here's another good resource:
Joshua Tree is a starkly beautiful one million acres of giant boulders, cacti (including the dangerous cholla), yuccas (including the Joshua Tree), coyotes, birds, snakes and lizards.
The park is the meeting place of the relatively low and dry Colorado desert and the typical "high desert" of the Mojave. There are oases in the park, just as you might see (but not believe) in an old cowboy movie.
It's a great place to hike (though it can be much too hot during the summer) and is also a prime destination for rock climbers.
Self-guided tours are available whether you're looking for wildflowers, birds, or remnants of the gold mining that used to happen in the park.
Even outside the summer, the dryness is severe and you should take more water with you than you think you might need. And stay away from the cacti. Those in this picture would be slightly annoying to step into.
The cactus in the front of this next picture is a different story altogether. It's the cholla (pronounced "choi'-ya"), a group that contains about 20 different types of cactus. I believe this particular one is called the "jumping cholla" because it seems to jump to get on to you or "teddy bear cactus" because it holds on and doesn't want to let go. In the background you can see two Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia), the symbol of the park.
There is some good info and nice pictures about Joshua trees here:
You can read even more about Joshua trees at http://www.desertusa.com/jtree/josh_month.html
And there is a lot of info about cholla cacti here:
Here's a picture of a local resident:
I recommend a visit to the quaint town of Twentynine Palms, including to their small local art gallery. You can find info about the town and other local attractions here:
If you're lucky, you might even meet my dad, who has a home near the Park where he grows grapes and fruit to make home-made wine and jam. He says there's no place he'd rather be...even when it's 120 degrees outside. Here's a picture of his back yard...with cacti, fruit tree, and desert vineyard in the background.
Just outside town is the Marine base, also called the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, home of the 7th Marines. Their web site is here:
This page, even drier than the official page, has history of the Marine Base, but might be of interest only to the die-hard military buff:
The drive from Twentynine Palms to Las Vegas is fascinating. Take Amboy Road, check out the salt pans and the Amboy Crater, and the crazy gas station and out-of-business motel.
(Thanks to www.three-seasons.com for the picture.)
There's some Amboy history and pictures here:
More info about Amboy and the crater at:
From there you can drive to Las Vegas in a bit over three hours, with part of the drive on the historic Route 66.
In the California desert, there are all kinds of odd and interesting things to see. Here are a couple artsy pictures of the remains of a former town.
OK, that's it for today. I hope you enjoyed this short journey through part of the USA.
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