Joshua Tree was originally intended to be called Desert Plants National Monument, and the focus on yucca brevifolia obscures just how large, expansive, and diverse the current National Park is.
Joshua Tree National Park is the meeting of two deserts, the Mojave and the Colorado. The Joshua Trees are beautiful, but they are also found extensively outside the park. The rock formations, from millions of years of faulting and erosion, bring in rock climbers throughout the world.
The area of the park was also an extensive migration route, especially for the Mojave and Chemehuevi. They have left a beautiful past in the form of archaeology and rock art. Let’s hope the crowds stay away from these beautiful sites.
Since the California Desert Protection Act change its status to a National Park in 1994, tourism has grown exponentially. The unique and fragile ecosystem is threatened by trampling, Instagram-carelessness, and vandalism. Some of what is shown in this Gallery doesn’t look the same, just a few years later. Joshua Tree’s long-term health is imperiled as long as the crowds keep coming. Let’s hope for a better future with lighter feet and more insightful minds enjoying one of the best of our National Parks.