Crafted over millions of years by torrential rain, battering wind, and extreme temperatures, Joshua Tree National Park stretches over nearly 800,000 acres of rugged terrain. These landscapes, which can seem deceptively barren, are home to several ecosystems. Despite the harsh conditions, Joshua Tree teems with plant and animal life that has adapted and thrived in the area’s fierce climate.
Joshua Tree National Park is home to large herds of desert bighorn sheep, black tailed jack rabbits, coyotes and kangaroo rats as well as a number of smaller mammals. Since it lies along the Pacific migratory bird flyway, many large groups of migrating birds can be spotted overhead or stopping to rest in the park during the winter months.
The park’s namesake is the Joshua Tree, a member of the agave family with a distinctive appearance. The Joshua Tree was revered by American Indian tribes because its leaves provided durable materials for baskets and footwear, while the buds and seeds made a healthy addition to their food supply.
Joshua Tree National Park Weather
Joshua Tree weather is most comfortable during spring and fall when average daytime temperatures are in the mid 80's and fall at night to around 50 degrees. Although the park is open year round, visitor numbers are typically greater during the more moderate seasons, especially in spring when the wildflowers are in bloom. Summer temperatures are often over 100 degrees, cooling at night to the mid-seventies. The elevation changes within Joshua Tree National Park influence the temperatures by several degrees. Average annual precipitation under normal conditions is 4 inches per year.
Joshua Tree National Park Tours and Camping
Joshua Tree camping facilities are available both by reservation and on a first come, first serve basis all year long. Nine campgrounds as well as numerous picnic and day usage areas are available. Modern conveniences are also provided by the motels, restaurants, stores and auto service facilities in the area.
Many museums and wayside exhibits are sprinkled throughout the park. Guests can view a Joshua Tree National Park map at one of four visitor centers. Walks, hikes and campfire talks are led by Joshua Tree park rangers who can help give visitors an understanding of the natural history and ecology of the park.