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Joshua Tree National Park, California: See the Jumbo Rocks and More!

Joshua Tree National Park

This national park is truly a unique blend of the high Mojave Desert and the low Colorado Desert. Located in southern California, it is about 140 miles east of Los Angeles. It bears a biblical reference, which will soon become apparent when reading this article. It consists of 1,022,703 acres of land ( 414,050 hectares ), and much of it is in the wild.

My traveling buddy and I were coming from the opposite direction, enjoying the Saguaro National Park, just outside Tucson, Arizona. We took the southern entrance into the park, which parted with Interstate 10 by heading north on the road marked 195, just east of Indio and Palm Springs.

Joshua Trees

The distinctive Joshua Trees grow in the western half of the park in the Mojave Desert's higher elevations. To me, they look like large yuccas. Mormon settlers' legend has it that the naming of these trees was for the prophet Joshua, and the tree's limbs reminded them of arms outstretched in supplication. Thus the biblical reference. Humans have inhabited this land for at least 5,000 years.

In one of the photos above, I am standing by an ancient Joshua Tree. They only grow about 1/2 inch a year. There are some 40-foot trees in this park that are over 900 years old!

Franklin D. Roosevelt set aside this unique land as a national monument in 1936. It was finally designated a national park in 1994, and it is open year-round.

As you can see from the photos below, many flowering plants are blooming in the spring of the year. My friend and I happened to be visiting this area in late April.

What to See and Do

People enjoy this park for all kinds of reasons. Among them are some of the following:

  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Photography
  • Bird watching
  • Rock climbing
  • Amateur astronomy and stargazing

Jumbo Rocks

The Jumbo Rocks in the Hidden Valley part of the Joshua Tree National Park is a haven for rock climbers! Many enthusiasts who like to climb in Yosemite come here during the winter months because of snow in Yosemite. There are trails in this area. Rock climbing suits beginners to those advanced in this sport. It is quite a playground!

My traveling companion and I enjoyed being in this section of the park on our visit. It is worth visiting even if rock climbing is not high on a person's wish list.

Key's View in Joshua Tree National Park - Elevation here is at 5,185 feet.  Mexico is in distant background.

Key's View in Joshua Tree National Park - Elevation here is at 5,185 feet. Mexico is in distant background.

Wildlife Within the Park

Many animals, birds, and insects exist in these desert areas. Snakes to lizards to hundreds of bird species along with coyotes and bobcats can be found here, among many others.

One compelling case of symbiosis between the yucca moth and the Joshua Tree exists.

  • The yucca moth lays eggs inside the flower ovary of the Joshua Tree. When the resulting larva emerges, they feed upon the seeds.
  • The Joshua Tree relies upon the yucca moth for its pollination.
  • Thus both life cycles are aided by this meshing of purposes.

Come and visit Joshua Tree National Park in California if you care to see the beautiful and the unusual Joshua trees, unique and pretty rock formations, beautiful plants, and wildlife. It is a national park that you will not soon forget!

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"The national park idea has been nurtured by each succeeding generation of Americans. Today, across our land, the National Park System represents America at its best. Each park contributes to a deeper understanding of the history of the United States and our way of life; of the natural processes which have given form to our land, and to the enrichment of the environment in which we live."

— George B. Hartzog, Jr., NPS Director, 1964-1972

Additional Information

To keep up with the latest information about hiking, climbing, camping, and ranger programs, be sure to click on the national park links below. This national park is larger than the state of Rhode Island, according to Wikipedia. Much of it is wilderness land. Be sure to read about the park before going off-road and make preparations for safety.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 11, 2021:

Hi Manatita,

Yes, the size of homes and furnishings in them are also larger than what I saw in Europe. There is so much open space in the U.S. in comparison to many places elsewhere. I once drove for several hours in west Texas before we saw another vehicle on the road!

manatita44 from london on March 11, 2021:

Yes, so many areas of America are incredibly vast. When I lived there in the late seventies, I saw that this vastness was brought to the home also. Everything was massive, from the drinks in the refrigerator to the size of the bedroom. Most house where I lived had three huge apartments also. Talk about progress! Peace!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 11, 2021:

Hi Manatita,

Yes, those deserts can really heat up, especially in the summertime. The Joshua trees have obviously adapted well. This trip was one taken years ago with my German girlfriend. I drove from Houston to California and back. Our goal was to visit ten national parks along the way. We did that and also saw some other sites as well. It is a trip that we both fondly remember. She was absolutely amazed at the vastness of the west.

manatita44 from london on March 11, 2021:

Another beauty! How can this tree grow in this heat? isn't God amazing! This time you did not bring your mother (Ha-ha) Your videos are amazing, as usual. Didn't see all, but some of it.

A bit of a biblical history too. Charming!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 10, 2021:

Hi Devika,

I am so pleased that you enjoyed learning more about the Joshua trees and this national park dedicated to preserving them, as well as the other fascinating aspects of this wilderness area. The videos are worth watching!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 10, 2021:

Peggy W I heard of the Joshua Tree saw it in movies. Your hub tells me everything I should know and a fascinating write up here. Informative and sounds an awesome trip to that part of the world.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 09, 2021:

Hi Alex,

I am glad you enjoyed learning about the Joshua Tree National Park. That Skull Rock is amazing! It surely was given an apt name.

Alex on March 09, 2021:

Was not familiar with Joshua Trees until I read this article. Good information to file away in the memory bank.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 29, 2013:

Hi Indian Chef,

These Joshua trees definitely do have a different look to them. They really remind me of yucca plants...except much larger in scale. Nice to know that I could introduce you to something that you had not seen previously. Thanks for your comment and the votes.

Indian Chef from New Delhi India on May 27, 2013:

Peggy I have never seen these kind of trees in my life and they do look different than what I am used to. I do not know anything about bible so I really do not know about Prophet Joshua. But a very interesting read. Sharing here and voting it up.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 16, 2012:

Hello creativespirit63,

To me the Joshua trees look like big overgrown yucca plants. You have probably read more Dr. Seuss books than I have. Haha! Thanks for your comment.

creativespirit63 from Omaha, Nebraska on September 16, 2012:

I love the Joshua Trees. I saw one (not any where near as many as this park) when I visited California for the first time this year. I thought it looked like a tree from a Dr. Seuss book.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 15, 2011:

Hi Eiddwen,

Happy to hear that you enjoyed this hub about Joshua Tree National Park in California. Skull Rock and that area of the park is an amazing rock climbing area. Lots of cactus and scenery in addition to the Joshua Trees. Thanks for your visit and comment.

Eiddwen from Wales on July 15, 2011:

Wow Peggy another gem which is two years old !!Over the next week or so I am going to try my best to catch up with as many as I can of your hubs.

I love nature's beauty and your photos are amazing.

Take care


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 06, 2009:

Hi Jimmy,

What a great area to do rock climbing! Wish we had the time, but at least we got to see the National Park. You sure live in a great area of the country!

Jimmy Fuentes from Rancho Cucamonga on June 06, 2009:

Hey Peggy, I actually live about 60 miles west of Joshua Tree. We have been there rock climbing a few times. It is beautiful as your pictures so wonderfully illustrate. Just gotta be kinda careful what time of year you choose to go. Can be really toasty during the day and super cold at night. Nice hub.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 04, 2009:

Hi Rochelle, You are fortunate indeed to have been able to spend so much time in that beautiful area!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 04, 2009:

Hi Teresa, How tall are they in your area? The literature indicates that Joshua Trees only grow in that particular area of the country. Are you sure they are not just plain yuccas? Yuccas grow in many different parts of the country. Who knows...maybe yours are the exception to the rule?

Happy that you enjoyed the hub. I am enjoying reliving those vacation spots.

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on March 04, 2009:

I love the California desert (mountains, seashore, valley too) It holds a special place in my childhood menories since I had family living there and spent a lot of time in that area. The desert in bloom is a special miracle. I can remember going out for a picnic among the wildflowers and cactus blooms.

Thanks for the hub and photos.

Sheila from The Other Bangor on March 04, 2009:

Another fascinating hub about a majestic place. The photos are great, Peggy -- that view with Mexico in the background is awesome.

You won't believe this, but there are Joshua Trees growing at the edge of the river here. I'll take some photos -- the blossoms are huge when they come out. I don't know why they're in the marsh here and I've never seen them anywhere else here in the swampy lowcountry.

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