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Joshua Tree National Park (4)  


Park History

Joshua Trees

Rock Piles

Colorado Desert

Plants of Colorado


Mojave Desert

Plants of Mojave


Keys View

Lost Horse Valley

Quail Springs

West Entrance




Mojave Desert

Joshua Tree National Park marks the juxtaposition of two of America's great desert systems--the Mojave and the Colorado, a subdivision of the Sonoran Desert. The Mojave Desert, which is higher and wetter than the Colorado, lies in the western section of the park. A view of the Mojave is shown below.

Another view of the desert is seen here.

The Mojave Desert is the smallest of the American deserts. It generally lies at an altitude between 3000 and 5000 feet and is the home of the Joshua Tree. Although it is indeed a desert, and as such receives less than 10 inches of rain annually, the amount of moisture it does receive is enough to support a healthy variety of plants, including the Joshua tree.

Another section of the desert can be seen below, looking east toward the Pinto Mountains.

Another section of the Mojave Desert can be seen below, with a California yucca in the foreground. These grow frequently in the Mojave Desert.

An interesting portion of the park is the "Transition Zone" where the two major deserts meet each other. In this area the plants and other characteristics of the two deserts mingle, creating a hybrid area which is shown below.

Although the Joshua tree grows primarily in the sections of the park which lay in the Mojave Desert, there are a few in the Colorado section. Even in the Mojave, however, there are places, such as the scene below, where the trees are not particularly thick.

Plants of the Mojave Desert

The Joshua tree grows along with a number of plants, such as the yucca and cholla, which can be found in the Mojave Desert.

The plants in the desert can be quite beautiful to look at, but not always pleasant to brush against.

The Mojave doesn't really feature a forest in the classic sense but there are a number of varieties of trees and bushes. The picture below shows mesquite in front of the rocks.

Relatively frequent is the Mojave yucca, found throughout the desert.


The yucca lends a welcome touch of green, as below near twilight in the Mojave.

In some places in the Mojave the plant life can be fairly thick.

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  • All photographs ©Patrick Holleran, Shannon Digital Imaging, 1994-2013

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