Joshua trees, Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA
© Tim Fitzharris/Minden Picture
Joshua Tree National Park
These photogenic trees are the main reason people come here to California's Joshua Tree National Park in the United States. Joshua Tree was declared a national monument in August 1936, before being designated a national park in 1994. Perhaps no other national park is so completely defined by a single feature, be it a plant or wildlife or natural formation. While Joshua Tree National Park contains other wonders, this tree that looks drawn by Dr. Seuss is what visitors come to celebrate.
Joshua Tree National Park could be called the hippest national park in the country, owing to its proximity to Los Angeles. Artists, celebrities and other creative bohemians visit in large numbers, not to mention Palm Springs and Coachella are a short drive away. But for those interested purely in nature, the 3,108-square-kilometre park is a marvel. The high-elevation Mojave Desert and the low-elevation Colorado Desert merge here, each with its own ecosystem. Most of the world’s Joshua trees are also found here.
A variety of yucca, Joshua trees live to be between 500 and 1,000 years old with roots as deep as 10 metres. Most believe their name came from Mormon pioneers who likened their branches to the outstretched arms of the biblical Joshua – which was more appealing than their botanical name, Yucca brevifolia. Whatever you’d like to call them, growing at elevations between 400 metres and 1,800 metres, there’s no denying that the Joshua tree is the star of Joshua Tree National Park.