Southern California is a lot of desert and a lot of people, but fortunately the two co-exist. This is due in part to an early environmental activist, Minerva Hoyt, who recognized in the early 1900s that increased auto traffic was destroying the California desert. To read more about her efforts, click here.
This is why, when I visit in the 21st century, I can look out over an expanse of odd-looking trees and cacti, miles of desert and six mountain ranges, and see nothing but wilderness.
Joshua Tree National Park is a combination of the Mojave Desert and Colorado Desert, and can be found in southeastern California. This park, at an elevation of 4,000 feet, covers nearly 800,000 acres. It is dominated by its namesake plant: Joshua Trees. In the agave family, Yucca brevifolia are endemic to southwestern United States. For more Park info, click on Joshua Tree NP.
Because the tree trunk is comprised of thousands of small fibers or prickly spines, it does not have annual growth rings, making the tree’s age sometimes difficult to determine. It is known, however, that they grow relatively quickly at a rate of approximately three inches per year, especially in its first ten years.
But the primary reason I enjoyed it here was the endless landscape, the quirky trees, the peace. Between the 100 million year old rock formations, and the craggy peaks of distant mountains, are all these weird hairy-looking trees–reaching out into the spaciousness that is the desert. It feels like you’re on another planet, and I like that.
Photo credit: Athena Alexander