JOSHUA TREE

We take you to the cactus land of desert sun, starry nights and climable rocks, where we felt at one with everything

Words: Emily Georgieva

Photography: Skylar Sahakian, Roberto Nickson, Dane Deaner, Gerson Repreza

29 August 2019

Going back to the very begging, we traced Joshua Tree to the core of its existence and all the way back to the first inhabitants to set a foot there. 

The original name of tree was Taxonomy. It was given to the area by the Mormon settlers, who in the 19th century was passing through the Mojave Desert. The name hides a Biblical message. The name Taxonomy holds importance as the shape of the tree reminded the Mormons of the story where Joshua holds his hands up in the air, reaching towards the sky in a prayer. 

The Joshua Tree symbolises beauty, combined with strength. Its shape is so meaningful because the tree stands up straight despite the unpredictable movements of the desert wind. It is understood as a reminder that beauty can survive and exist through destruction.

Two deserts meet in the Joshua Tree National Park - the Mojave and the Colorado/Sonoran deserts. Animals and desert plants from the high and low are brought together. It truly represents the desert in its reach towards people and we have found ways to establish a connection with mother earth in this place. You can drive through Joshua Tree National Park. The road starts from Cottonwood Spring Visitor Centre, situated in the south area of the park. Driving through, you will get a sense of the Mojave Desert and will probably notice the difference when being surrounded by the territory, that belongs to the Colorado/Sonoran deserts. The road trip can take up to 4 hours and the exit is taken through the town of Joshua Tree.

Cave, cactus gardens and sand build up the park's atmosphere. The most preferred things to do is exploring the Indian Cove Nature Trail and climbing the rocks of the Echo Cove. The coves together with the Arch Rock Trail summarise the national park best from a nature point of view.

Human history in the area dates to more than 5 000 years ago. Scattered over 500 000 acres of California dessert, the park holds so much more life than what is seen at first. It is interesting to know that the Joshua Trees are not actual threes but belong to the yucca family. They, alongside all other plants in the area, grow in extremely fragile soil. Micro-organisms are found to live in the ground. They have two main functions: to hold the soil together and nourish the plants. As the soil is very easy to affect, stepping on it can result in destroying those micro-organisms. This has bigger consequences because it leads to destroying the natural habitat of the plants and they may die. This is why it is crucial when visiting the park to keep walking on the specified trails and watch your steps.

The park's location situated away from city's light pollution makes it an ideal isolated space, where nature can be admired. This is a prerequisite for a front row view of the night sky. It is a place where weekly 'star parties' are held. The sky is so clear from light pollution and the climate is often generous enough for the clouds to not stand in the way. It is effortless to watch the stars from there, enjoying what is probably one of the most astonishing views that exist and are known to humanity.

Joshua Tree National Park in numbers:

Information, taken from the official website, confirms that Joshua Tree National Park treasures more than 241,000 objects in its museum collections. There are over 838 documented archaeological sites, protected in the area. With its 5 cultural landscapes and 160 historic structures, the park has become an emblematic symbol of preserving the local culture and treasuring cultural values.

There are more than 400 climbing formations and 8 000 routs to be taken by climbing adventurists. However, everyone interested in the activity need to familiarise themselves with the rules and regulations of the park.

It became a national park in 1994.

RELATED STORIES