“There is the sense of the desert hills, that there is room enough and time enough.” Mary Austin
Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California is a desert oasis of preserved land stretching between small towns and containing a large congregation of Joshua Trees. These majestic trees, scientifically known as Yucca brevefolia live primarily between 1,300 and 5,900 feet in the Mojave desert of the southwest of the United States.
The name Joshua tree was given by the Mormons, who crossed the Mojave Desert in the mid-19th century. The unique shape of the trees reminded them of a biblical story in which Joshua reaches his hands up to the sky in prayer.
While the trees are a big draw for many, they aren’t the only attraction worth seeing, not by far. In fact, while, at first glance, the monotone colors of the desert can be hard to appreciate in large doses, upon close examination, this arid landscape comes alive with bits of color and a surprising amount of life. The flowers of the various cacti and yucca provide a wonderful hint of pigment here and there and add to the beauty of a surprisingly varied landscape.
The lucky few even get the chance to have a quite close encounter with wildlife, as we did when we topped a ridge and suddenly found ourselves in the vicinity of a herd of bighorn sheep running in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, the herd was just far enough out of reach, as to make it impossible to get a great shot, but at least we were able to take that memory with us.
There is an abundance of hiking within the park, a small part of which we had the opportunity to explore. Many hikes will give you some elevation gain, from where spectacular vistas open up, giving views to the surrounding mountains of San Gorgonio Mountain and Mount San Jacinto in Big Bear and Palm Springs respectively as well as a view to the Salton Sea towards the south.