Joshua Tree National Park

Friday 26 December, 2014

Since Christmas was on a Thursday this year, I would have had to have spent most of it driving to be able to work on Friday. It only made sense to take Friday off. With a day of in Los Angeles, it only made sense to go out to pack in one more national park for the year and try to end the year with some good shots. We drove out to Joshua Tree, in the desert east of Los Angeles.

Mojave Desert

The park has two very different parts, the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert, with an unusual transitional zone between them. Entering from the north, you visit the Mojave Desert first. We took a short hike through fascinating Hidden Valley.

The park's characteristic Joshua Trees grow only in the Mojave Desert.

Joshua Tree in silhouette.

In addition to trees and cacti, the park is known for rock formations. These granite formations were made by chemical erosion from contact with groundwater.

Eric took a picture of one of the Mojave Desert's characteristic trees with one of its characteristic rock formations.

Joshua Tree with rockpile.

Eric, myself, and my mother in Hidden Valley.

Rocks just pile up in Joshua Tree.

Sheer rock face.

Eric took a picture of a rockpile.

These rockpiles were everywhere.

Each was uniquely different.


Looking into a rockpile.

The characteristic lines the water formed.

The trail through Hidden Valley goes through a canyon with fascinating details in the rock.

Detail in rock.

An interesting feature.

Detail of the same feature.

Detail in rock.

This detail shows where the groundwater made the spaces between the rocks.

More lovely details in rock.

Coming out of the canyon, one rock looks like it's about to leap onto another.

Hardy plants, both invasive and native, grow in the desert.

Outside of the canyon now, there were vast expanses of desert between the piles of rock.

In some places, the piles would have spaces between them, as Eric shows us here.

Eric shows us a rock that looks like it's about to fall.

Nicely rounded boulder.

Here, Eric shows us a diagonal line where a different sort of rock intruded.

This formation looks a bit like an elf hat.

A climber had made it to the top of this steep formation.

Climbers up high.

Climbers climbing.

Colorado Desert

Next, we drove through the Transitional Zone to the Cholla Cactus Garden, where we took a short walk as the sun started to set behind the cacti.

The Cholla Cactus Garden.

They seem to go on forever, don't they?

Eric shows us the Cholla Cacti.

A single Cholla Cactus, closer in.

Eric got a great picture closer in. I need a macro lens.

Eric's view of the Cholla.

The setting sun made lovely effects on the cactus needles.

Eric took a picture of a cactus looking like a hand puppet.

Detail of bits of cactus that had fallen to the ground.

Me taking the previous picture.

Last, we visited the Ocotillo Patch.

The Ocotillo apparently has lovely red flowers in spring.

Eric took a picture of the Ocotillo with the moon behind.

Detail of the Ocotillo.

Quite a contrast between the two deserts! Because the underlying geology of each is so different, different plants grow, different herbivores eat the different plants, and different predators feed on the herbivores. So, the flora and fauna of each desert are completely different from that of the other.

Last updated: 27 December, 2014 by Eric and Beth Zuckerman