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Joshua Tree National Park is popular with the more thoughtful traveler, since there is no spectacular central attraction as is the case with many other Southwest parks, just many square miles of wild, unspoilt desert scenery. Two factors make the park special; the eerie, spiky Joshua trees which grow densely in the western half, and the extensive outcrops of huge granite boulders, up to 100 feet high, which line the mountain ranges scattered over the whole area. Other prime attractions are six oases where California fan palm trees grow in their natural surroundings, all reachable by trail. This is not a place just to drive through, instead visitors should explore for a while away from the roads - climb some rocks or walk amongst the trees and cacti, but most of all spend a night here and watch the sun set. The Joshuas are especially atmospheric and spooky at dusk, when their stark, irregular outlines become quite menacing.
Joshua Tree, for many years a national monument, was promoted to a National Park in 1994, along with nearby Death Valley, and was extended by 230,000 acres, mainly remote mountainous regions at the south and east edges. The land lies at the transition between the Sonoran and Mojave deserts, and has vegetation and scenery representative of both. Besides the trees, rocks and oases, the park also has many hiking trails, a network of 4WD routes, several historic sites and half a dozen picturesque campgrounds.
The national park can be reached from the south from a junction of I-10, or from the north by two roads that fork off CA 62, starting from the towns of Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms - see area map. But the best approach, if applicable, is the westward drive along CA 62 from Parker in Arizona, 108 miles away. This follows the Santa Fe railroad for a while, then crosses empty lands typical of the Mojave Desert, past sand dunes, dried lake beds and rugged mountains, en route to Twentynine Palms. Near the town, on both CA 62 and the parallel Amboy Road are found many abandoned buildings, at quite widely-spaced intervals over a distance of several miles, which give the whole area a rather sad, mournful air, especially near sunset.
||Mountains, valleys and plains at the transition between the Sonoran and Mohave deserts; the western half of the park features magnificent forests of the Joshua tree, plus many cacti, set amongst large outcrops of weathered granite boulders
|Nearest city with hotels:
||34.078336, -116.036578 (north entrance) 33.674997, -115.801821 (south entrance)
||All year, though summers are very hot
|Joshua Tree - Photography|
Joshua Tree National Park Hotels
|Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Twentynine Palms/Joshua Tree
The 75 room & suite, AAA 3 diamond Holiday Inn Express Twentynine Palms/Joshua Tree at 71809, Twentynine Palms Highway has a desert setting with many rooms enjoying uninterrupted views south towards the Joshua Tree Wilderness. The hotel is less than two miles from the Oasis visitor center and the Joshua Tree National Park headquarters, and a mile from the town center where most of the shops & restaurants are found.
Check rates at the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Twentynine Palms
|More hotels in Twentynine Palms, and a map of the town
Other nearby towns with hotels: Indio, Blythe, Yucca Valley, Parker (AZ)