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Overview

About two hours east of Los Angeles, Joshua Tree National Park takes its name from the unique desert plant named by Mormon pioneers for the Biblical Joshua in the mid-1800s. Not a cactus but a relative of the yucca, the Joshua tree is an icon of the California deserts. The national park, located at the intersection of the Mojave and Colorado deserts, is an ecological transition zone that supports a wide variety of plant and animal life. The Mojave Desert, the northern reaches of the park, supports the majority of the Joshua trees, while the lower and hotter Colorado Desert is rife with ocotillo and assorted cacti. The prime recreational ...

About two hours east of Los Angeles, Joshua Tree National Park takes its name from the unique desert plant named by Mormon pioneers for the Biblical Joshua in the mid-1800s. Not a cactus but a relative of the yucca, the Joshua tree is an icon of the California deserts. The national park, located at the intersection of the Mojave and Colorado deserts, is an ecological transition zone that supports a wide variety of plant and animal life. The Mojave Desert, the northern reaches of the park, supports the majority of the Joshua trees, while the lower and hotter Colorado Desert is rife with ocotillo and assorted cacti. The prime recreational pursuits in Joshua Tree are hiking and rock-climbing; the park is an international mecca for the latter activity. But this is a great place for exploring by car or on foot, and home to several rare desert oases, worthy stops for visitors. Springtime brings a vibrant wildflower bloom; winters are mild. The park's gateways, Twentynine Palms, Joshua Tree, and Yucca Valley, are located just north of the park and outfitted with a good selection of motels, restaurants, and other attractions. Of special note is the Integratron, an enigmatic dome structure that offers public "sound baths" on weekend afternoons.

Eric Peterson
About the Expert

Eric Peterson has written and contributed to numerous Frommer’s guidebooks covering the American West, including Montana & Wyoming, Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks, and Texas.

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Eric Peterson for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Located in southeastern California, an area slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island. Straddling the San Bernardino County/Riverside County border, the park includes parts of two deserts: the higher Mojave Desert and lower Colorado Desert.
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Fall to spring, although winter can be a bit chilly for camping.