Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is located in southeastern California.
It was declared a U.S. National Park in 1994 when the U.S.
Congress passed the California Desert Protection Act, it had
previously been a U.S. National Monument since 1936. It is named
for the Joshua tree forests native to the park. It covers a land
area of 789,745 acres, or 1,234 square miles - an area slightly
larger than the state of Rhode Island. A large part of the park
is designated to wilderness area—some 429,690 acres. Straddling
the San Bernardino County/Riverside County border, the park
includes parts of two deserts, each an ecosystem whose
characteristics are determined primarily by elevation: the
higher Mojave Desert and lower Colorado Desert. The Little San
Bernardino Mountains run through the southwest edge of the park.
Joshua Tree Rock Climbing
The park is popular with rock climbers and was originally a
winter practice area while Yosemite Valley and other parts of
the Sierra Nevada were snowbound, but later became an area of
interest in its own right. There are thousands of named climbing
routes, at all levels of difficulty. The routes are typically
short, the rocks being rarely more than 230' in height, but
access is usually a short, easy walk through the desert, and it
is possible to do a number of interesting climbs in a single
day. The rocks are all composed of quartz monzonite, a very
rough type of granite made even more so as there is no snow or
ice to polish it as in places like Yosemite.
Joshua Tree Hiking
There are several hiking trails within the park, many of which
can be accessed from a campground. Shorter trails, such as the
one mile hike through Hidden Valley, offer a chance to view the
beauty of the park without straying too far into the desert. A
section of the California Riding and Hiking Trail meanders for
35 miles through the western side of the park. The lookout
point at Keys View, towards the south of the park, offers views
of the Coachella Valley and Salton Sea.