Until the 1940s, most people thought of the Mojave Desert area as a large and unpleasant stretch of land between the country’s midsection and Los Angeles. It was something to be endured and not enjoyed. But that began to change in 1936 when Congress set aside the Joshua Tree National Monument. At that time, many people already believed these scraggly yet strangely beautiful trees to be national treasures. Then, visitors began to appreciate other aspects of the delicate desert ecosystem. The park is famous for its namesake, the Joshua Tree, which has a distinct look between a palm tree and a cactus.
Nevertheless, almost 60 years have gone by before lawmakers passed the California Desert Protection Act. This law also created the Joshua Tree National Park. This park is roughly the size of Rhode Island. It contains over 400,000 acres of protected wilderness area. These vast swaths of land are not off-limits to visitors. In fact, the opposite is true. The National Park Service encourages hikers, rock-climbers, birders, and other individuals and families to visit these areas.
In a nutshell, the western half of the park is the Mojave Desert (High Desert). This area is slightly cooler than the Colorado Desert in the eastern half of the park. Of course, “cooler” is very much a relative term in a desert environment. There are plenty of things to do, and plenty of RV camping places throughout Joshua Tree National Park. A brief word before we go further. When we say “wilderness,” we mean wilderness. The park has neither cell phone service nor drinking water. So, always plan accordingly. The winter is the most popular season at the park, as summer temperatures can soar well above 100 degrees.