JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK - Sun and Sky in California’s High Desert
A mecca for climbers, hikers, campers, and stargazers, Joshua Tree National Park lies just 35 minutes east of Palm Springs and 2 hours southeast of Los Angeles. Prickly cacti begin flowering around this time of year and the typically frigid nights give way to temperate climates perfect for campfires and star shows. Spring in the desert brings 18 species of lizards, tortoises, eagles, and butterflies out of their shells, cocoons, and nests to roams amidst the flowering forests of Joshua Trees, the namesake for this otherworldly California destination.
Upon entering Joshua Tree National Park - $15 for a 7-day vehicle pass and $25 for a camping pass - one is immediately greeted by amorphous granite structures. Masquerading as what one might refer to simply as hills or mountains, these craggy piles of rock are actually monzogranites, or the final stage of what was once magma. Their unique shapes seem frozen in time, making it easy to daydream of the time when they first teemed from the earth centuries ago. Coupled with the unusual crooked-trunked Joshua Trees, this place gives way to our childhood imaginings when we turned clouds into objects more palatable to the human mind. But make no mistake about it, the earth and sky above here are unquestionably out of this world.
Next time you’re in California looking for a road trip with the edge to make you feel like you took a wrong turn down the highway and ended up on Mars, don’t forget to check out Joshua Tree. The saloons and Old West varnish of the past blends seamlessly with the new vintage stores and speakeasy dive bars on Highway 62, sure to keep you off the grid and close to the natural rhythm and hum of Mother Earth just a little longer.
Plan your visit at http://www.nps.gov/jotr/
Travel buddies: Vanessa B. and Joanie D.