Photo Credit: Wikipedia user Tuxyso
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Two deserts, two large ecosystems primarily determined by elevation, come together in the park. Few areas more vividly illustrate the contrast between â€śhighâ€ť and â€ślowâ€ť desert. Below 3,000 feet (910 m), the Colorado Desert (part of the Sonoran Desert), occupying the eastern half of the park, is dominated by the abundant creosote bush. Adding interest to this arid land are small stands of spidery ocotillo and cholla cactus.
The higher, slightly cooler, and wetter Mojave Desert is the special habitat of the undisciplined Joshua tree, extensive stands of which occur throughout the western half of the park. According to legend, Mormon pioneers considered the limbs of the Joshua trees to resemble the upstretched arms of Joshua leading them to the promised land. Others were not as visionary. Early explorer John Fremont described them as â€śâ€¦the most repulsive tree in the vegetable Kingdom.â€ť
Standing like islands in a desolate sea, oases provide dramatic contrast to their arid surroundings. Five fan palm oases dot the park, indicating those few areas where water occurs naturally at or near the surface, meeting the special life requirements of those stately trees. Oases once serving earlier desert visitors now abound in wildlife.
The park encompasses some of the most interesting geologic displays found in Californiaâ€™s deserts. Rugged mountains of twisted rock and exposed granite monoliths testify to the tremendous earth forces that shaped and formed this land. Arroyos, playas, alluvial fans, bajadas, pediments, desert varnish, granites, aplite, and gneiss interact to form a giant mosaic of immense beauty and complexity.
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- Bicycling - Mountain
- Camping - Backcountry
- Climbing - Rock
- Horseback Riding
- Wildlife Viewing - Birding