For a first-time visitor the desert may appear bleak and drab.
Viewed from the road, the desert only hints at its vitality. Closer
examination reveals a fascinating variety of plants and animals.
A rich cultural history and surreal geologic features add to the
attraction of this place.
Two deserts, two large ecosystems whose characteristics are determined
primarily by elevation, come together at Joshua Tree National Park.
Below 3,000 feet, the Colorado Desert encompasses the eastern part
of the park and features natural gardens of creosote bush, ocotillo,
and cholla cactus. The higher, moister, and slightly cooler Mojave
Desert is the special habitat of the Joshua tree. In addition to
Joshua tree forests, the western part of the park also includes
some of the most interesting geologic displays found in California’s
deserts. Five fan palm oases also dot the park, indicating those
few areas where water occurs naturally and wildlife abounds.