Joshua Tree National Park
This is the audio only described version of the park’s brochure. Text, a multitude of color photographs (with one noted exception), illustrations and a map, tell the story of the park’s natural and cultural history. The brochure also provides information for planning your visit.
This official brochure is identified with a top-to-bottom black band on the left edge of side one of the brochure. Inside the band, the words Joshua Tree in bold white letters are at the bottom. At the top of the black band, is the National Park Service arrowhead logo accompanied by small white text that reads: “Joshua Tree National Park, California, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.”
Side one provides an overview of the two desert ecosystems, the Mojave and Colorado deserts found in the park. The background photo on the left shows a typical Mojave desert landscape and the background image to the right shows a typical Colorado desert landscape. These background photos fade into a center section where a series of photos of plants and animals found in both habitats are arranged vertically to the right of two illustrations and text of the different habitats. In the upper right of the page a circular photo and text provide information about the oasis habitats found scattered around the park. A series of illustrations along the bottom middle of the page provides a brief description of the geologic processes that forms the park’s iconic boulders.
Side two provides a map of the entire park and surrounding area. Along the left edge of the page is a thin black band with vertical black text to the right that reads “Exploring Joshua Tree.”
The park map fills the width of the page on its lower two thirds. The map shows major points of interest throughout the park including paved roads, dirt roads, hiking trails, campgrounds and other amenities. A series of 12 square color photos directly above and across the top of the map feature select locations throughout the park with text descriptions.
Park hours, activities, directions, and important safety information fill the remaining space at the top of the page.
TEXT: Varied Yet Vulnerable
The desert has much to teach us about the marvels of adaptation. Relentless sun, little water, and summer temperatures over 100 Fahrenheit can make a forbidding world for non-desert dwellers. Yet hundreds of species conserve moisture and beat the heat in fascinating ways.Hardy as these plants and animals are, their world is fragile. In the nineteen thirties Minerva Hoyt, a community activist and desert-lover, recognized the threats from humans. She saw beauty in the spiny plants and slithery creatures where others did not. She persuaded President Franklin D. Roosevelt to proclaim Joshua Tree National Monument in 1936. In 1994, as part of the California Desert Protection Act, Congress renamed the area Joshua Tree National Park. Thanks to the efforts of Hoyt and others, this park protects 792,510 acres, more than 80 percent of it managed as wilderness, where the Mojave and Colorado deserts converge.
TEXT: The Transition Zone
Text: Deserts don’t have firm boundaries, and much of the park lies in the overlap between the Colorado and Mojave deserts. This transition zone has a wealth of biological diversity and is home to species characteristic of each desert ecosystem. [Pictured] Below are some residents:
- Bighorn sheep
- Cactus wren
- Beavertail cactus
- Greater roadrunner
- Gambel’s quail
- Desert tortoise
- Desert iguana
Each resident species is described under its own section.
Photo description: In right profile, this lizard has a black head and reddish body. Its large black right eye protrudes from the top of its knobby head. Loose skin bunches up around its neck. Its front legs and belly rest on a pale stone while its head is lifted up alertly.
Photo Credit: Frank Balthis
Photo description: A small bird is perched upright. Its two thin, clawed feet grasp a narrow branch. Its chest faces forward and its head is turned toward its left wing. Its white underside and breast have scattered dark spots and its feathers are fluffed up. The underside of its tail is striped with dark bands. A dark stripe runs from the base of its short beak through its eye with white stripes above and below. Reddish-brown feathers cover the top and back of its head. Photo Credit: Frank Balthis
Photo description: This cactus has a dense number of paddles clustered close together. The paddles are like the leaves of the cactus but are flat and oblong-shaped. They are a faded blue-green color and vary in size. Each is topped with florescent pink flowers. Some blooms are open with single pink petals arranged in a circular pattern. Other blooms are closed with petals tightly bunched together.
Photo credit: John Dittli
Photo description: In right profile, a bird with a long tail and neck stands on sandy ground. Its underside is light tan. Its neck, back, and wings are dark brown with irregular white striping. A tall crest of dark feathers rises on top of its head. Small blue and red iridescent patches are behind its eye. A small lizard hangs lifeless from its thick downward-curved beak.
Photo credit: Steve and Dave Maslowski, Photo Researchers Inc.
Photo description: In right profile, a small ground bird walks to the right on sandy ground. The squat, plump bird's body is gray across the top of its neck, back, tail and top portion of its chest. The grey color transitions to white on its chest and then to tans and dark brown closer to its legs and the underside of its wings. Its face is dark. From the outside corners of its eyes is a white stripe that circles the lower part of its head like a smile. Above its eyes, another white stripe in the shape of an arc goes across its forehead and slightly past the outside corner of its eyes. Above the arced white stripe, the top of its head is a medium brown color and it looks like a cap. A dark, single curved feather juts out from its brow and curves downward, surpassing its small beak.
Photo credit: National Park Service, Brad Sutton
Photo description: A brown-colored tortoise relaxes in the sun on a gravel surface. Its smooth, domed shell is covered with dust and its belly rests on the ground. Heavily scaled front legs with clawed toes are drawn up close to its small head, which is raised upwards.
Photo credit: John Dittli
Photo description: A lizard faces forwards. Its mouth is open and its pink tongue is visible. The lizard's underside is pale, nearly white, with darker patterning on its back transitioning to dark spotted stripes around its tail. The tail and rear part of its body rest on the sandy ground while its front legs hold its head and chest off the ground. Long toes extend from beneath its crouched rear legs.
Photo credit: Richard Seaman
IMAGE: Bighorn Sheep
Photo description: This tan-colored animal has a muscular frame. Its white rump is turned toward the camera with its head looking back towards us. It stands low to the ground on sturdy legs high on the top of a rock. Its rounded ears are on either side of the top of its head. In between its ears are two horns. The horns curve up and out past its ears and are angled backwards. They come to a dull point at their tips. There is nothing in the background but a clear, blue sky.
Photo Credit: Frank Balthis
Mojave Desert: Text
The western half of the park, at elevations above 3,000 feet, is Mojave Desert habitat. Amid the boulder stacks are pinyon pines, junipers, scrub oaks, Mojave yuccas, and Mojave prickly pear cacti. The Parry’s nolina sends tall feathery sprays skyward. The skeletal blackbrush might look dead, but it’s very much alive: it sheds its leaves during the hottest months to retain moisture.
What tells you that you are truly in the Mojave Desert is the wild-armed Joshua tree. It isn’t really a tree but a species of yucca. Like other desert plants, its waxy, spiny leaves expose little surface area, efficiently conserving moisture. Joshua trees can grow over 40 feet tall—at the leisurely rate of an inch a year. Its clusters of cream-colored flowers bloom February through April. Branching occurs after flowering.
Joshua trees—alive or dead—are home to many animals. The loggerhead shrike often impales prey on sharp-pointed leaves. Other birds to look for are the Scott’s oriole, red-tailed hawk, ladder-backed woodpecker, American kestrel, and western scrub jay. The Gambel’s quail, perhaps with a string of youngsters in tow, scurries from one shrub to another.
Hidden in the rocks might be a red diamond rattlesnake, its eyes on a desert spiny lizard, which in turn is searching the rocks for insects. A marvel of desert adaptation, the pinacate beetle never drinks water. It derives moisture from meals of fungus and decaying vegetation. It is also known as a circus beetle because when threatened it does a “headstand” while emitting a foul-smelling secretion.
In the early morning or late afternoon, it is not uncommon to spot a black-tailed jackrabbit racing across the landscape. Gigantic ears help regulate body temperature: in warm weather the blood vessels dilate to release heat. When it’s cold, the vessels constrict to retain warmth.
The Mojave Desert section is in the top middle to right side of side one. The illustration is described under its own heading.
Mojave Desert: Illustration Description
This full-color illustration shows plants and animals found in the Mojave Desert. A Joshua tree is the centerpiece with unpredictably branched limbs with waxy green-spiked leaves at the tips of the branches. Limbs are covered in dead leaves that have folded back to cover the bark. Lower on the trunk, bark is exposed.
Different bird species are on or around the tree. A black and white striped woodpecker with a red-capped head clings midway up the trunk near a small nest hole opening. A tawny kestrel and black raven fly close by. A large-eyed owl and black and orange oriole sit perched among the lower branches in the center. A black, grey, and white loggerhead shrike songbird with its long flat tail is perched near the tip of a branch on the left. It looks at a lifeless lizard that hangs from the tip of a skewer-like leaf. A large hawk with a hooked beak and sharp eyes sits on a top left branch and looks towards the ground at the small animals below.
On the ground surrounding the tree from left to right are: A striped rattlesnake with its neck pulled into an S shape and tongue out partially coiled on the ground. A brown furry wood rat with large round ears and dark eyes is partially hidden within dried vegetation. A small squirrel with stripes along its sides and a long tail curled against its back uses its two paws to hold food in its mouth. A small pale lizard walks across open ground. A brightly colored green and blue lizard clings to the shady side of a rock. An alert jackrabbit with tall black tipped ears sits crouched on is long back legs ready to jump. A small black beetle ambles across the ground.
Close to and in the distant background behind the tree, vegetation from left to right includes: A branched Joshua tree with large football shaped blooms on each limb tip. Underneath it is a Prickly pear cactus with large flat paddles and spikes. A Mojave yucca with green spiked leaves is similar to a Joshua tree but wider and much longer. A Hedgehog cactus, which is low to the ground, looks like miniature, clumped-together barrels, some of which are topped by crimson flowers. A shrub-like oak tree, called a Scrub Oak has wide, flat leaves. A shrub-like Juniper tree has scaly leaves and a trunk hidden by branches. A Parry’s Nolina is a flowering plant with spiky leaves similar to that of a Yucca. A single stalk emerges from its leaves. At the top in a cone-like shape, pale small flowers grow.
Each species is as follows:
- Red-tailed hawk
- Scott’s oriole (male)
- Loggerhead shrike
- Scott’s oriole (female)
- Western screech owl
- Common raven
- American kestrel
- Joshua tree
- Ladder-backed woodpecker
- Scrub oak
- Parry’s nolina
- Prickly pear cactus
- Mojave yucca
- Hedgehog cactus
- Southwestern speckled rattlesnake
Illustration caption: National Park Service and Robert Hynes
The Mojave Desert section is in the top middle to right side of side one. The text is presented under its own heading.
Mojave Desert: Photo Description
This color photo is located from top to bottom on the left one third of side one. Brochure text is placed at the top of the photo. To the right over the photo are the circular photos of the the transition zone species. Then, the right edge of the photo fades into the illustrations of the Mojave and Colorado deserts.
Photo caption: In the Mojave Desert ([pictured] above), look for pinyon/juniper/scrub oak woodlands, Mojave yucca, and Joshua trees.
Photo description: In the left foreground is a Joshua tree. It has a single tree trunk with exposed dark-textured bark. About a third of the way up, the tree branches out into three distinct sections. A little less than midway up each of the three branches, the tree branches out again, but remains open enough so that you can see the sky in the background. At the tops of these branches are bunches of spiky green leaves that form the shape of irregular, oblong globes. Dead spiky leaves that look like hair cover the the top portions of these branches. Behind this tree is a grove of Joshua trees on a landscape of low clumped scrub vegetation in shades of green. Behind this grove are two distinct creme-colored boulders with deep vertical crevices that rise in the background and in front of a cloudless blue sky.
Photo credit: Tom Gamache.
© FRANK BALTHIS
Colorado Desert: Text
The eastern half of the park, below 3,000 feet above sea level, lies within the Colorado Desert. This habitat of the lower Colorado River valley is part of the much larger Sonoran Desert, which spans southern Arizona and northwestern Mexico. Creosote dominates this sun-baked bowl, punctuated here and there by spidery ocotillo, green-barked palo verde, and patches of jumping cholla cactus. Jumping cholla is also called teddy bear cholla, but don’t try to cuddle it! Intermittent water in washes and bajadas sustains smoke trees and ironwoods.
Wildflowers abound. Red-orange blossoms of the chuparosa attract humming¬birds, for which the plant is named, as well as the tiny checker¬spot butterfly. Annuals like the desert sand verbena survive drought by living only in spring and going to seed when conditions harshen. Seeds can lie dormant for several years until conditions are again favorable. Animals here display many forms of adaptation. The kangaroo rat obtains water from the food it eats—seeds, leaves, stems, and insects. It can store food for weeks in its cheek pouch. Its large hind feet are adapted for hopping over desert sand, which it does throughout the night. In close pursuit may be a kit fox, equally well-adapted to desert travel.
The Colorado Desert section is in the the lower right side of side one. The illustration description is under its own section.
Colorado Desert: Illustration Description
This full-color illustration shows the plants and animals found in the Colorado Desert. In the foreground, a small rodent with a long tail and kangaroo-like rear legs crouches under the overhanging pale pink blossoms of a Dune primrose. This group of eight, four-petal primrose flowers blooms alongside of ground hugging sand verbena with clusters of medium purple blossoms. A coiled diamond patterned rattlesnake is nestled between the verbena mats and a low Chuparosa bush covered in small red flowers. A medium-sized lizard with a long black and white striped tail stands alertly on top of a small rock in front of the rattlesnake. A small orange butterfly flutters around the Chuparosa bush near a dog-like fox with large ears, a black-tipped tail, grey back, and reddish brown chest and legs. With its light hazel eyes, it looks intently at a Le Conte’s thrasher, which is a small brown bird with a long tail. Its longer beak is open and curved downward. To the left of the Chuparosa is a Pencil cholla, which has long thin cactus stalks and orange blossoms at its tips. To the left of it, is a Brittlebrush flowering plant in full bloom with yellow flowers. Behind these lower shrubs and flowering plants are the bluish green leaves of a smoke tree. It stands underneath the canopy of the much taller green-limbed palo verde tree. The tips of this tree's limbs are covered in tiny yellow blossoms. To the right, is the spindly arms of the Ocotillo. The Ocotillo is a shrub with large cane-like unbranched stems covered in small green leaves and tipped with multiple crimson blossoms that make the shape of a cone.
In the background, Ocotillo and desert scrub vegetation are scattered into the distance where they meet low rolling mountains on the horizon. Rocks rounded by weather are scattered throughout.
Each species is labelled on the illustration. Starting at the top and generally going in a clockwise direction they are:
- Palo verde
- LeConte’s thrasher
- Kit fox
- Tiny checkerspot butterfly
- Zebratail lizard
- Western diamondback rattlesnake
- Sand verbena
- Dune primrose
- Kangaroo rat
- Pencil cholla
Illustration caption: National Park Service / Robert Hynes
The Colorado Desert section is in the bottom middle to right side of side one. The text is presented under its own heading.
Colorado Desert: Photo Description
This color photo is located from top to bottom on the right one third of side one. Brochure text is placed at the top of the photo and the left side fades into the illustrations of the Mojave and Colorado deserts.
Photo caption: The ocotillo, a plant typical of the Colorado Desert, shows off red blossoms in spring and often again in fall.
Photo description: This photo captures a typical springtime scene in the southeastern portion of the park. Low-angled afternoon sunlight illuminates a field of short brittlebush bushes covered in yellow flowers. The brittlebush is interspersed with other clumps of desert scrub vegetation. In the foreground to the left are the tall single-stalk branches of the ocotillo. Each branch is covered with small rounded green leaves. The long skyward-reaching branches are tipped with cones of crimson flowers. In the background, high mountains rise in shadow behind the sunlit field of vegetation.
Photo credit: John Dittli
Text: When you’re at one of the park’s fan-palm oases, you’re atop a crack in the Earth’s crust. Geological faults crisscross the park area. When groundwater hits a fault plane, it rises to the surface and creates conditions for an oasis.
Dependable surface water nourishes lush vegetation, a welcome refuge from desert extremes. Besides the majestic California fan palms, there are cottonwoods and mesquites. Look carefully and you may see un-desertlike species like orchids and amphibians.
Photo description: Above this text is a color photo, cropped in a circle of a cluster of tall palm trees. Small desert plants fill in the foreground. A hillside and blue sky fill in the background. The palm trees are 50-60 feet tall. Dead and dried out palms hang down around the very thick trunks, giving them a shaggy appearance.
Photo caption: Frank Balthis
Who Piled Up All Those Rocks?
Text: Roads and trails lead you through a jumble of stacked boulders where you can use your imagination to see unlikely shapes. The rock piles began underground eons ago as a result of volcanic activity. Magma—in this case a molten form of the rock called monzogranite—rose from deep within the Earth. As it rose, it intruded the overlying rock, the Pinto gneiss formation.
As the granite cooled and crystallized underground, cracks (joints) formed horizontally and vertically (pictured left). The granite continued to uplift, where it came in contact with groundwater. Chemical weathering caused by groundwater worked on the angular granite blocks (pictured right), widening cracks and rounding edges. Eventually, the surface soil eroded, leaving heaps of monzogranite scattered across the land like careless piles of toy blocks (pictured far right).
Two illustrations and a color photograph accompany this text found in the bottom middle of side one. Their descriptions follow.
Illustration description (1): The first illustration is what the granite underground would have looked like. It is presented as if it was a wall of rocks piled one on top of another. A layer of black sediment lays across the top of the rock above ground and fills the cracks of the differently-shaped, rounded-edged rectangular and squared rocks below ground. The rocks are shown in brown gradient colors. Joints in the rock run from deep within the earth up toward the surface in straight lines, horizontally, vertically and at an angle. Above ground, the sky is pale blue with faint white clouds.
Illustration description (2): This second illustration shows the underground rock as it begins to uplift. Some of the top sections of the underground rock have changed from larger to smaller, broken-off sections with their own joints filled with sediment. Some joints are more pronounced and fissures in some of the larger rocks are apparent.
Photo description: This color photo shows what the same underground rock formation looks like today after the geologic process of uplifting and rising above the surface. Rounded, beige, tan and pinkish monzogranite rock is exposed and rises upwards against the pale blue sky with faint white clouds. Deep angular horizontal, vertical and angled joints run through the granite. Joshua trees are on the bottom and in the right foreground of the rock formation.
Photo caption: Neil Rabinowitz
Exploring Joshua Tree
On side two, visitor information, such as safety, hours, recreational activities and directions, are presented under their own sections as are the areas of the park highlighted through text and photos and the large park map.
On the right top section of the brochure is a color photo.
Photo caption: Mojave desert landscape.
Photo description: A typical Mojave desert landscape of Joshua trees, cholla, and other desert plants fill the foreground. Distant green mountain peaks line the horizon in the background.
Photo credit: Tom Gamache
Hours, Facilities, Activities
Joshua Tree and Oasis visitor centers are open daily, 8 am to 5 pm; Cottonwood Visitor Center is open 8 am to 4 pm. Visitor centers have exhibits and information on things to see and do, as well as publications for sale by the Joshua Tree National Park Association. Ranger-guided programs and Desert Institute classes run fall, winter, and spring.
Hiking, Camping, Climbing
There are trails for everyone, from paved, wheelchair-accessible trails to strenuous hikes. For backcountry camping you must park and register at a backcountry permit station. Campgrounds and picnic areas have tables, fire rings, and toilets. Most campgrounds do not have water. Rock climbing information is available at entrance stations, visitor centers, and on the park website.
Getting to the Park
Joshua Tree National Park is 140 miles east of Los Angeles. From I-10, take state route 62 to the park entrance stations via Joshua Tree village or the city of Twentynine Palms. You can also enter the park from the south directly off I-10 at Cottonwood Spring, which is 25 miles east of Indio.
Things You Need to Know (Safety and More)
- People have died here from preventable accidents. In emergencies, contact a ranger or call 909-383-5651 or 911.
- Emergency phones are located at Indian Cove Ranger Station and Intersection Rock.
- Cell phone coverage is generally poor throughout the park.
- Stay away from abandoned mines.
- Supervise children, particularly around cacti and climbable rocks.
- Carry at least one gallon of water per person per day.
- Flash floods are a danger; avoid drainage areas during and after thunderstorms or severe weather.
- Do not climb unless you are properly trained and equipped. Watch where you put your hands and feet, especially in spring and summer when snakes are active.
- Pets must be leashed at all times; pets are prohibited on trails and beyond 100 feet from any park road, campground, or picnic area.
- All motorized vehicles and bicycles must stay on established roads. Obey posted speed limits. Park only in designated parking areas, not on the roadside. Off-road driving is prohibited.
- Camping is permitted only in designated areas or with backcountry registration.
- All natural and cultural features are protected by federal law. Do not disturb, mutilate, deface, or remove any natural or cultural objects.
- Viewing wildlife with artificial lights is prohibited.
- For firearms regulations check the park website.
- Joshua Tree National Park Address: 74485 National Park Drive; Twentynine Palms, CA; 92277-3597
- Phone: 760-367-5500
- Webpage: www.nps.gov/jotr
- Joshua Tree National Park is one of over 390 parks in the National Park System. To learn more about parks and National Park Service programs in America’s communities visit www.nps.gov.
The Park Map and Park Highlights
The park map takes up two thirds of side two. Above and across the map are 12 color photos of specific areas in the park. Following is a description of the map for a general sense of the shape, topography, directions and amenities within the park. Additional information is provided under each of the 12 featured areas in the park.
Map description: North is pointing up on the map and descriptions will reference the cardinal directions and left, right, top and bottom where applicable.
The park is an irregular oblong shape which is wider (east-west) than it is long (north-south).
The park’s topography and mountains: There are many mountain ranges in and outside of the park. Following is the list with general locations:
- In the north, sections of the Pinto Mountains are within the park boundary. Northeast of the Pinto Mountains within the park is the Pinto Basin.
- East within the park and travelling north-south are the Coxcomb Mountains.
- In the southeast of the park are the Eagle Mountains.
- West of the Eagle Mountains and also in the southern section of the park are the Cottonwood Mountains.
- The west side of the park is primarily made up of the Little San Bernadino Mountains that travel in a north to south-easterly direction.
- On the south side of the Little San Bernadino Mountains outside of the park are the Indio Hills.
- South of the Indio Hills is the Coachella Valley.
- East of the Little San Bernadino Mountains within the park are the Hexie Mountains.
Roads in and around and in the park:
- Route 62 travels east-west and parallels the northern border of the park.
- Route 177 travels along the eastern border of the park. In the southeast it connects to Route 10, which travels east-west along the southern and western border of the park. Where Route 172 and 10 meet is the Desert Center.
- Paralleling Route 10 in the west is Route 111.
- Pinto Basin Road starts in the center of the park’s southern border. This road travels in a northwesterly direction and connects with Park Boulevard in the northwest quadrant of the park.
- Park Boulevard forks and travels north to the North Entrance Station and west to the West Entrance Station.
- Text notes that off-road driving is prohibited.
The park has three visitor centers:
- Oasis Visitor Center is in the north, right outside of the park off of Route 62.
- Joshua Tree Visitor Center is west of the Oasis Visitor Center in the north, right outside of the park off of Route 62.
- Cottonwood Visitor Center is the the southern section of the park, more or less close to the center of the southern border off of Pinto Basin Road.
Most services, amenities and activities are within the northwest quadrant of the park and are indicated with map symbols, such as camping, picnicking, drinking water, medical facility, ranger station, emergency telephone and self-guiding trail.
The park has unpaved roads, 4-wheel drive roads and hiking trails. Backcountry permits are required at many places within the northwest quadrant.
Cities and towns outside of the park include :
- Desert Hot Springs, Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indio and Coachella in the west.
- Morongo Valley, Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree and Twenty Palms are northwest and north of the park.
There are two short paragraphs of text on the map. They are:
- Transition Zone. In this ecological melting pot, two great deserts, the Mojave and Colorado, blend together in a vibrant landscape featuring plants and animals representative of both.
- Wilderness. Congress has designated nearly 558,000 acres of Joshua Tree National Park as wilderness. Most of the park away from road corridors is wilderness. If you plan to venture into these areas, you must be familiar with special rules and regulations governing wilderness use.
The map’s legend in the lower left corner indicates that almost three inches equals ten miles and approximately one and three-quarters of an inch equals 10 kilometers.
Oasis of Mara
Photo caption: American Indians were the first people to live here. In the 1800s came prospectors, followed by homesteaders (ca. 1940). The oasis is now home to park headquarters and the Oasis Visitor Center.
Photo description: A sepia-toned photo of a small cabin, called a "homesteader." A brick chimney runs up the middle of the facing side of the cabin, with a window to the right of the stack. An open doorway is on the right face of the cabin. Tall palms and other trees fill in the area around and behind the cabin.
Photo credit: Harlow Jones
Oasis of Mara is close to the Oasis Visitor Center.
Fortynine Palms Oasis
Photo caption: Those who hike the moderately strenuous three-mile roundtrip trail to this oasis will be rewarded with shade from the palm canopy and perhaps sightings of wildlife.
Photo description: Looking up into the fronds of a palm tree, the bottom half of the photo shows layers of dried-out older palm fronds hanging down around the trunk, completely blocking any view of the actual trunk. The fronds surround the tree trunk and look like a tan fringe grass skirt. The top half of the palm tree shows the still green palms splayed out in every direction.
Photo credit: John Dittli
This hike starts at the northern border of the park west of the Oasis Visitor Center.
Photo caption: Bill and Frances Keys were among the few successful homesteaders in this area. Learn their fascinating story on a ranger-guided walking tour; call 760-367-5555.
Photo description: An old well dominates the foreground with the historic Keys Ranch buildings behind it. Hanging from two dead Joshua tree logs angled up from the ground at either side of the well is the pulley wheel. At the ground level, a wooden cover closes the well off and a bucket sits atop the cover hanging from a rope. The tightly clusterd historic ranch buildings in the background vary between one and two stories in height. The roofs are made of tin tiles and the walls are made of weathered wood.
Photo credit: John Dittli
Keys Ranch is in the center area of the northwestern quadrant of the park.
Photo caption: Built around 1900 to hold water for cattle and mining use, the dam today forms a small rain-fed reservoir used by park wildlife. Birds abound! One-mile loop trail.
Photo description: A small pool of water is in the center of the photo with a wooden trough on the right. The trough is filled with green plants. In the background a man-made dam closes off a canyon with large rock formations on either side, trapping water seasonally. The photo was taken during winter, so most of the trees lining the pool of water are barren of leaves.
Photo credit: John Dittli
Barker Dam is close to Keys Ranch in the center area of the northwestern quadrant of the park.
Photo caption: A one-mile loop trail starts in the picnic area and winds among massive boulders through this legendary cattle rustlers’ hideout.
Photo description: A tan-colored, large monzogranite rounded rock formation is many stories tall. It is bathed in the brilliantly, glowing yellow light of sunset. Behind it, the sky is deep blue. In front of it, the foreground is covered in shadow. To its left in front are one large and one small boulder on top of a flat rock. Behind the small boulder is small scrub tree that is diminished in size by the large rock formation behind it. These large exposed rock formations are typical throughout the park.
Photo credit: John Dittli
Hidden Valley is south of Keys Rand and Barker Dam in the northwestern quadrant of the park.
Photo caption: From an elevation of 5,185 feet, you can overlook a stunning expanse of valley, mountain, and desert. Look for the San Andreas Fault in the valley below.
Photo description: A Joshua tree fills the center foreground of this photo. A view of lowlands and mountains are in the distance. Joshua trees are made up of green narrow leaves that look like spines spiked out in every direction, which grow out in branches. As the tree grows, old spines die and dry out, lining the bark. This tree has five branches.
Photo credit: Pat O’Hara
Keys View is in the west at the edge of the Little San Bernadino Mountains, but further south of the northwestern quadrant.
Photo caption: A three-mile round-trip trail (moderately strenuous) to the 5,458-foot summit has lookout points with views of Queen, Lost Horse, and Pleasant valleys.
Photo description: A single Joshua tree is at a slight distance in the left foreground of the photo. It is surrounded by desert scrub plants that extend into the distance. Joshua trees are scattered among the scrub plants. To the right in the distance are light-colored monzogranite rock formations a thousand feet high. Behind these formations and in silhouette is the dark slope of Ryan Mountain. The sky above is filled with expansive white clouds with some blue poking through.
Photo credit: National Park Service
Ryan Mountain is southeast of Hidden Valley and north of Keys View at the southern end of the northwest quadrant of the park.
Lost Horse Mine
Photo caption: Representing the area's gold prospecting and mining history, the 10-stamp mill and mine site can be reached by a four-mile round-trip trail.
Photo description: A portion of an old wooden mining building. The building terraces up a hillside on the left with many levels. The structure's weathered-wood braces, staircases, and walls are dark brown against a bright blue sky filled with a few wispy clouds.
Photo credit: John Dittli
Lost Horse Mine is south of Ryan Mountain and northeast of Keys View.
Geology Tour Road
Photo caption: Pick up a brochure at the beginning of this 18-mile driving tour to guide you through fascinating geological sites. After stop #9, four-wheel drive is recommended.
Photo description: A landscape seen along Geology Tour Road is mostly flat and filled with small desert plants. The plants include bushes, some with yellow flowers and others with small purple blooms (left foreground). A light sage-colored teddy bear cholla cactus is to the right in the middle distance. In the background are two dark-colored, rounded mountains that rise from the otherwise flat desert floor.
Photo credit: National Park Service
The geology tour runs north-south. Starting at the southern portion of the northwest quadrant of the park, the road continues south. The tour goes through Pleasant Valley, which is a sliver between the Hexie and Little San Bernardino Mountains. Once in the Little San Bernardino Mountains, the road is labelled as Berdoo Canyon Road, which turns southwest as the road travels outside of the park and connects with Dillon Road.
Cholla Cactus Garden
Photo caption: This “garden” is dominated by jumping cholla, named for its tendency to attach itself to the unwary. Guide brochures available at trailhead.
Photo description: Cholla cacti dominate this photo. The cacti are different heights. From base trunks, they then branch out. Extending from the branches are its arms or paddles that have a tubular shape. In some cases, the branches and arms are close giving them a tangled look. Each cactus stem and arm is covered in hundreds of tiny spines. Especially in the light, all of these spines givev the cacti an overall soft and fuzzy, velvety appearance. On the lower-growing Cholla in the foreground of this photo, are a few pink flowers in bloom. Behind it, Cholla cacti are close by and in the distance.
Photo Credit: Ed Callaert
The Cholla Cactus Garden is directly off of Park Basin Road in the center section of the park.
Photo caption: Cahuilla Indians used this spring for centuries, leaving behind bedrock mortars and broken pottery. Prospectors, miners, and teamsters later established gold mills here.
Photo description: A dense cluster of palm trees are on a descending hillside. Small and sparse desert plants cover the hillside in the background. The tallest palm trees are 50-60 feet in height and lush green on top with thick, shaggy looking trunks.
Photo credit: Andreas Neuman
Cottonwood Spring is directly off of Park Basin Road in the southern center section of the park. It is close to the Cottonwood Visitor Center.
Photo caption: The comet Hale-Bopp shows over the rock formations. The campground here has individual and group sites. A 0.6-mile loop interpretive trail highlights the plant and animal life of a Mojave Desert wash.
Photo description: A comet streams through a starry night sky with large rock plinths lit in red by artificial light in the foreground. The comet has two streaming trails of light. The upper one is light blue in color and the lower one is bright white and much wider.
Photo credit: Wally Pacholka/ Astropics
Indian Cove is located in the northwestern portion of the park in between the Oasis and Joshua tree visitor centers.