About Joshua Tree
In southern California, deserts reach even to the 5,000 foot peaks of the Little San Bernardino Mountains. In the eerie quietness of this landscape, a scattering of Joshua Trees does little to cover the barrenness of the land. On ridges and outcroppings of rock sit large, rounded boulders of light-colored granite. The coarse fragments of the broken rock compose the surrounding soil, too small to be called gravel, and too big to be called sand. While named after its Joshua trees, Joshua Tree National Park is a desert preserve of the Little San Bernardino Mountains, the nearby Pinto Basin, the Pinto Mountains and the Eagle Mountains. It is an intersecting point of the Mojave Deserts, characterized by the Joshua trees, and the lower Colorado desert, characterized by the creosote bush.
The Pinto Basin lies east of the Little San Bernardino Mountains. Creosote bushes cover this large valley, with a scattering of ocotillo and other plants of the Colorado desert. On the west side of the basin, a dense colony of teddy bear cholla cactus is seen at the Cholla Gardens. North of the Pinto Basin, the Pinto Mountains rise in colorful red rocky slopes. In contrast, the Coxcomb Mountains to the east are shining white. Pinto Basin Road descends into the basin through Wilson Canyon, and makes a long winding path through this desolate area.
Abandoned mines are numerous in the mountains, including the Dale Mining District and the Eagle Mountain Mine. Four-wheel-drive roads leads to some of the mining areas.
In 1936 Joshua Tree became a national monument, and in 1994 it was elevated to a national park. It covers 1,018,162 acres. 1,259,583 people visited in 2003. Joshua Tree National Park is a popular rock-climbing venue, with the advantage of being available year-round. Twentynine-Palms is the closest city, just outside the park on its northern boundary. Lodging and all other accomodations are available there.