Established: October 31, 1994
Area: 794,000 acres (319,959 ha)
History of Joshua Tree National Park:
Humans have occupied the area encompassed by Joshua Tree National Park’s nearly 800,000 acres for at least 5,000 years. The first group known to inhabit the area was the Pinto Culture, followed by the Serrano, the Chemehuevi, and the Cahuilla.
In the 1800s cattlemen drove their cows into the area for the ample grass available at the time and built water impoundments for them. Miners dug tunnels through the earth looking for gold and made tracks across the desert with their trucks. Homesteaders began filing claims in the 1900s. They built cabins, dug wells, and planted crops
Each group left its mark upon the land and contributed to the rich cultural history of Joshua Tree National Park. The park protects 501 archeological sites, 88 historic structures, 19 cultural landscapes, and houses 123,253 items in its museum collections.
After the area became a national monument in 1936, local and regional residents were the primary park visitors. As Southern California grew so did park visitation; Joshua Tree now lies within a three-hour drive of more than 18 million people. Since Joshua Tree was elevated from national monument to national park status in 1994 however, greater numbers of visitors from around the nation and the world come to experience Joshua Tree National Park.
How to get to Joshua Tree National Park:
The west and north park entrances are at the towns of Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms. From Los Angeles, take I-10 east to Calif. 62 (Twentynine Palms Hwy) to Twentynine Palms (about 140 miles total). The souh entrance is located at Cottonwood Spring, approximately 25 miles east of Indio off I-10.
When to go to Joshua Tree National Park:
All-year park. Temperatures are most comfortable in the spring and fall, with an average high anf low of 85°F and 50°F. Winter brings cooler days, around 60°F, and freezing nights. Summers are hot, with midday temperatures frequently above 100°F, and ground temperatures reaching 180°F. The Mojave Desert zone on park’s western half is on average 11 degrees cooler than the Colorado. In winter, snow may blanket the Mojave’s higher elevations.
Spring blooming periods vary according to winter precipitation and spring temperatures, usually beginning in February at lower elevations and peaking park-wide in March and April, although cactuses may bloom into June.
Hiking trails in Joshua Tree National Park:
49 Palms Oasis
- Description: The 49 Palms Oasis Trail offers a three-mile round-trip (4.8 km) hike to a fan palm oasis. It requires two to three hours and is rated moderately-strenuous, ascending about 300 feet each way. This well-maintained trail climbs to a ridge where large numbers of barrel cacti dot the landscape. After winding around the ridgetop, the trail descends steeply to the oasis located in a rocky canyon. Towering palms create a canopy over clear pools of water. Large boulders provide a place to rest and enjoy the sights and sounds of this small ecosystem.
- Trailhead: From the Oasis Visitor Center travel five miles west on hwy 62 and turn left on Canyon Road. From the Joshua Tree Visitor Center, travel 11 miles east on hwy 62 and turn right on Canyon Road. Canyon Road turns slightly to the left and becomes Fortynine Palms Canyon Road. Follow it to the parking area.
Lost Horse Mine/Mtn.
- Mileage: 4 miles (6.4 km) round trip
- Description: Site of ten-stamp mill. Summit = 5,278 feet (1,609m).
Lost Palms Oasis
- Mileage: 7.2 miles (11.6 km) round trip
- Description: Canyon with numerous palm stands. A side trip to Victory Palms and Munsen Canyon involves scrambling.
- Mileage: 3 miles (4.8 km) round trip
- Description: Excellent views of the Eagle Mountains and Salton Sea. Summit = 3,371 feet (1,027m).
- Mileage: 3 miles (4.8 km) round trip
- Description: Excellent views of Lost Horse, Queen, and Pleasant valleys Summit = 5,461 feet (1,664m).
Joshua Tree National Park Visitor Guide
Guide to National Parks of the United States