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Located deep in the southern Californian desert is Joshua Tree National Park. Designated as a National Park in 1994 this area is one of the best preserved desert areas in the country. This park covers an area of 1,234 mi² (3,196 km²) and over half that area is designated as wilderness area. Remember during the summer Joshua Tree National Park can get extremely hot with day time temperatures reaching up to 120 °F (49 °C).
The park covers two different deserts that have their own ecosystem that are determined by different elevations. The area below 3,000 feet (900 metres), is in the Colorado Desert and the plant life is creosote bush, ocotillo and cholla cactus. The Little San Bernardino Mountains cut through the southern park of the park.
The higher, and therefore moister, part of the park is in the cooler Mojave Desert. This part of the park is home to the namesake of the park the Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia), which is related to the yucca plant. There are also several bird species to watch for in the park, with the best place to watch being Barker Dam. The dam is a also a good spot to watch for Big Horn sheep.
The Mojave Desert part of the park, in the western part, is also home to amazing geologic formations. These bare rocks are broken up into loose boulders that are home to the parks most popular activity of rock climbing. Many people descend upon the park during the fall and spring, which is the high season, in order to take part in some of the best rock climbing in the world.
There are several hiking trails located around the park. Some hikes are pretty short, such as the one mile hike through Hidden Valley that gives a great view of the beauty of the desert. Then there are longer hikes that can take all day or several days. Remember that there is no flowing water in the park and bring enough with you when you start your days adventures.
This national park has become one of the favorite places among rock climbers. Originally it was a winter practice area while other parts of the Sierra Nevada where snowed in. Over time it became popular in its own right. There are over a thousand named routes for any level of climber. The routes tend to be short but are usually only a short easy walk from the road. Therefore it is possible to do many interesting climbs in one day. This is a desert climate and dehydration can kill, remember to bring plenty of water with you.
The park is open 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Although during the summer many activities, such as ranger led tours, are not available. During the high season, fall and spring, the camping areas can get filled and it might be hard to find a hotel in nearby towns.
There are three visitor centers. Each visitor center is open year round 8:00am to 5:00pm. The visitor centers are located by the three entrances of the town Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms and also the Cottonwood Visitor Center near the south entrance off of I-10.
Entrance cost to the park is $15 per vehicle, can be paid at any park entrance and is valid for 7 days.
The nearest airport is in Palm Springs and there is no public transport to the park.
The main entrances to the parks are located at the towns of Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms. Both of these towns are located on HW-62. If coming from the west take I-10 and then exit onto HW-62 to reach the north entrances of the park. If coming from the east just take HW-62 west. The south entrance of the park can be accessed directly off of I-10, although the southern area of the park has fewer sights and is less popular among tourists.
In the park itself there are no restaurants. There are plenty of restaurants located in Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms.
If looking for a bar there are sereveral different bars located in Twentynine Palms and Joshua Tree.
|Circle C Lodge||6340, El Rey Ave Twentynine Palms, California||Hotel||-|
|Motel 6 Twentynine Palms||72562 Twentynine Palms Highway Twentynine Palms, CA,||HOTEL||-|
There are several camping options inside the park. The price at the different camping areas ranges from US$10 to $15. It is possible to back country camp with approval from the park head quarters although there are some tight restrictions. Remember only 2 camping areas provide water and there is no flowing rivers in the park. Therefore bring plenty of water and food with you to your camping spot.
There are no hotels or lodges located within the park. If looking not to camp the only option is to stay in a hotel, inn or bed and breakfast in the towns of Joshua Tree or Twentynine Palms.
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I have traveled frequently to and camped in Joshua Tree National Park.
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