In 1930, a wealthy society woman turned preservation activist founded the International Desert Conservation League. Minerva Hamilton Hoyt’s goal in founding the League was the preservation of the desert habitats and wildlife that she had grown to love. In her later years, this lady would persuade FDR’s administration to protect hundreds of thousands of acres of desert – the area we now know as Joshua Tree National Park.
The word desert may evoke images of barren wasteland, but a little travel will turn up what Minerva Hamilton Hoyt knew so well: the desert is a vibrant, richly varied environment, dramatic in its austerity, unforgiving in its extremes.
Joshua Tree National Park includes parts of two deserts, both distinct because of their different elevations. These are the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert. The Mojave Desert claims the honor of supplying the special habitat of the Joshua Tree, the tough desert plant that gave the Park its name. It is the site of Death Valley, also a national park, and at certain times of the year, the hottest place on Earth.
If you’re lucky, you might glimpse some of Joshua Tree’s wildlife, much of which is nocturnal. This includes the desert tortoise, the roadrunner, and coyotes. But it doesn’t require luck to enjoy the night skies of Joshua Tree. Its Dark Sky Park status is a big draw for stargazers.
Rock formations in Joshua Tree National Park tell their stories to geologists, impart a sense of wonder to tourists, and present a challenge to climbing enthusiasts. They glow orange and red in the sun and captivate visitors used to thinking of this planet as green.
Worth Checking Out
- Skull Rock
- Hidden Valley
- Mojave Desert
- Death Valley National Park