Joshua Tree National Park in southeastern California encompasses parts of the higher-elevation Mojave Desert, where Joshua trees are found, and the lower-elevation Colorado Desert, home to cholla cacti.
The Joshua tree, or palm tree yucca, is so named because its form reminded traveling Mormons of a Biblical story in which Joshua reaches his hands up to the sky in prayer. Here’s the same Joshua tree again, showing scale:
Seen together, Joshua trees resemble a forest as drawn by a little kid:
We decided to camp out in an area called Jumbo Rocks, where we scrambled and wandered around as well:
From a distance, the rocks look like the folds on a giant’s fleshy body:
This is me posing in the nostril of Skull Rock:
The Cholla Cactus Garden is amazing! I had expected something like a botanical garden with precisely planted and labeled plant specimens. Instead, it’s an area thick with these distinct cacti that look dip-dyed:
There is sort of a trail that winds through the chollas, allowing you to get really close to them. They are beautiful but very prickly:
At Keys View, you can look out over Coachella Valley to the Salton Sea and the San Andreas Fault. On a really clear day, you can supposedly see all the way to Mexico:
Having now spent a bit of time in the Mojave, Colorado and Sonora Deserts, I’m definitely on Team Mojave. Joshua Tree National Park was an incredible experience, and I’d love to return at a different time during the year, exploring and camping in some different areas.