What is it?

If you’re interested in prickly vegetation reaching into the skies out of sprawling desert landscapes, you may find what you’re looking for in Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California. The 1,235-square-mile park is known for its rock formations and Joshua trees.


In the 1930s, the desert was under threat from poachers and land developers. Minerva Hoyt, founder of the International Deserts Conservation League, hired botanists and ecologists to show the value of the Joshua Tree area. She was introduced to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and after more hard work, in 1936, Joshua Tree became a national monument.

What is a Joshua Tree?

The national park is home to more than 800 species of plant, and the most famous is the titular Joshua tree. The tree is technically a succulent, and is identified by its spiky leaves and round, white flowers. It is part of the agave family, can grow 40 feet tall and live for an average of 150 years. 

What to do

There is much to see in the sprawling park. The Hidden Valley Nature Trail is a popular, easy-to-walk 1-mile loop that showcases some of the park’s wildlife and rock formations. Also popular is the Barker Dam Nature Trail, a 1.1-mile loop that has great views of boulders and desert bighorn sheep.

More information 

Joshua Tree National Park contains parts of both the Mojave and Colorado deserts. In the summer, expect it to be hot and sunny, with temperatures often  over 100 F. Passes are required to enter the park— $30 covers one vehicle and all its passengers for a full week. For updated local health guidelines and to plan your trip, call 760-367-5500 or visit www.nps.gov/jotr.