10 facts about Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park has always had a glamorous feel – it is, after all, just two hours from Los Angeles, so it’s no surprise that the park has a fascinating history filled with Hollywood drama.
1. Joshua Tree National Park includes two deserts.
Many people don’t realize that Joshua Tree National Park is actually made up of two separate deserts. The southern tip of the Mojave Desert forms its western edge, and the Colorado Desert covers its eastern and southern areas. These deserts have different altitudes and, therefore, different ecosystems. The gentle slopes of the Colorado Desert receive more annual rainfall and are home to desert lavender, desert agave, and colorful ocotillo plants [PDF].
The Joshua trees for which the park is named are most common in the higher elevations on the Mojave side. The densest growth of Joshua trees in the world sits on the 1,500-foot Cima Dome. The west end of the park even climbs to 4000 feet San Bernardino Mountains, home to trembling aspen, California juniper, and Douglas-fir.
2. Despite its geological age, as a national park, Joshua Tree is a millennium old.
Joshua Tree is one of the youngest national parks in the country. It received this designation in October 1994. Joshua Tree now covers 800,000 acres, an area roughly the same size as Rhode Island. [PDF].
It is also one of the most popular national parks, as it is only a two hour drive from Los Angeles. His popularity has been a mixed blessing: Joshua Tree has seen an average of 3 million visitors per year in recent years, although its infrastructure has only been built for 1 million per year.
This results in long waits at front gates and crowded campgrounds. Much of the park is not accessible by road, causing trail overflows in the more easily accessible areas.
3. Joshua trees are not actually trees.
The tree of Joshua is a member of the Genus Yucca, a genus of generally stemless succulents. They can grow up to 70 feet tall, although they can take up to half a century to reach their maximum size. Joshua trees live for around 150 years, and it takes decades before their distinctive branches even begin to form.
Because they store moisture in their roots, Joshua trees are called the “large desert canteen. “Squirrels and hares find water by chewing on trees during extreme drought, which allows hawks and coyotes to find food.
The shrub is native only to northwestern Mexico and the American southwest. Although there are still nearly a million currently growing in the Mojave Desert, like many other species, climate change has limited their range. By the end of the century, environmentalists predict 80 percent Joshua trees will be destroyed.
4. Joshua trees received their distinctive name from Mormon settlers.
The Cahuilla people call the trees of Joshua humwichawa. Traditionally, they used the leaves and seeds of the hardy plant to make baskets, sandals, and food, and even hollowed out its branches to use as containers.
When Mormon settlers first arrived in the area in the 19th century, the legend has it that the distinctive trees reminded them of the Old Testament story of Joshua, the leader of the Israelites who raised his arms to heaven in a prayer to God to lead them through Canaan, hence the plant’s current name.
5. Joshua Tree National Park has a long human history.
Mormons may have given the national park its current nickname, but people are believed to have lived in the area for thousands of years. The rocky landscape provided shelter, as well as sources and vegetation for food. The park still contains artifacts from the Mojave, Serrano, Chemeheuvi, and Cahuilla tribes, including petroglyphs carved into many rock formations. In the 1800s ranchers, miners and farmers had started to appear on the ground.
6. It’s snowing in Joshua Tree National Park.
The park is known for its warmth: the average maximum during the summer months is a roast 100 Â° F. But like many deserts, it can also get quite cold, and snow in high altitudes is not unheard of. Temperatures have dropped below freezing in winter â once they hit a low. record 10 Â° F in 1990 – and the park receives about one blanket of snow every year. It’s actually too cold for most cacti to grow there.
In February 2021, the park saw a snowfall like it hadn’t seen since more than a decade. The snow reached not only the usual higher elevations, but also the valley floor. Joshua trees apparently love precipitation in all its forms, but snow and ice usually clears as quickly as it comes.
7. The cover of the famous U2 album was not shot in Joshua Tree National Park …
The black and white panoramic photograph on the cover of U2’s hit 1987 album Joshua tree was not shot in the national park, although the image on the inside cover is actually one of the trees. The famous cover was actually shot 200 miles away in Darwin, California.
At a bus trip around the Mojave Desert on day one of filming, singer Bono learned about the biblical origin of the name Joshua tree and decided to make it the title of the band’s album. The next day, the cover photo was taken in less than half an hour by the now famous Joshua Tree in Darwin.
In 2011, a Dutch concert hall director died in Joshua Tree National Park; some believed he was looking for the place used in the cover of U2’s album, after telling his colleagues that he wanted to visit it.
8. … The Eagles, however, shot an album art at Joshua Tree National Park.
Joshua Tree National Park has a long history of inspiring artists, especially musicians. The Eagles’ eponymous debut album in 1972 features a picturesque sunset in the park. The photoshoot took place on an overnight camping trip with the group and photographer Henry Diltz.
As Don Henley remember in the documentary The story of the eagles, part one, âWe had a bag of peyote buds, a bunch of trail mix, tequila, a bunch of water and blankets. And the seven of us left for Joshua Tree.
In the decades that followed, the park continued to feature widely in music, voted by United States today as one of best musical attractions in the world in 2015. Joshua Tree National Park also serves as the backdrop for the music videos for Selena’s “Amor Prohibido”, Missy Elliott’s “Lose Control”, Ariana Grande’s “Into You” and “One Foot” by Walk the Moon.
9. Joshua Tree National Park is the most famous cremation site in musical history.
One of the park’s strangest musical ties surrounds the funeral of country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons. Parsons was briefly a member of the Byrds, introduced the Rolling Stones to country music, and discovered Emmylou Harris. He visited the park in September 1973 and died of an overdose at the nearby Joshua Tree Inn on September 19.
During the trip, his road manager, Phil Kaufman, claimed that Parsons spoke of his desire be cremated upon his death and have his ashes scattered at Joshua Tree. In response to the musician’s last wishes, Kaufman and his friend posed as morgue workers to intercept Parsons’ body at the airport, pulled up to a gas station for gasoline cans and pulled over went to the Cape Rock formation in Joshua Tree National Park, where they sprayed the body with gasoline. and set it on fire before being caught.
The there was no law Against the theft of a corpse, the two men were therefore only charged with the offense of theft for stealing the coffin and were forced to pay several small fines. The motel where Parsons died is still in use and his room remains his most popular. Makeshift memorials appear at Cape Rock, but Joshua Tree does not officially recognize Parsons’ connection to the park.
10. Some believe that Joshua Tree National Park is a UFO hotspot.
Area 51 isn’t the only desert location with an alien reputation. Joshua Tree National Park has also been dubbed a UFO hotspot. Ufologist Dr. Steven Greer hosts “Contact in the desert, The world’s largest UFO conference, for three days every June in the park. The lecture presents alleged archaeological evidence from extraterrestrials and how to contact extraterrestrial life. UFO enthusiasts can even stay in a Futuro house in the park.