• Sunrise at the Cholla Cactus Garden

    Joshua Tree

    National Park California

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  • Cottonwood Trails Closed

    Trail access remains closed to Cottonwood Spring Oasis, Lost Palms Oasis, and Mastodon Peak. More »

  • Pinto Basin Road Under Construction; Expect 30+ Minute Travel Delays

    Visitors should expect 30+ minute waits when heading north and sound bound on the Pinto Basin Road. Due to construction activity around Cottonwood Visitor Center, additional waits of 30 minutes may be in place when leaving the visitor center parking lot. More »

  • Deteriorating conditions of Black Rock Canyon Road

    The road leading to Black Rock campground has deep potholes, is deeply rutted, and can be difficult to negotiate, especially in large vehicles. Please drive with caution.

Cowboys

cowboy gear
Cowboy gear in the museum collection
Gary Garrett
 

Cattle grazed throughout the park from the 1870s until 1945. The grazing ratio was about one adult animal to 17 acres. Old-timers noted that the grass was tall and abundant. The cattle companies located springs, dug wells, and developed rainwater impoundments called “tanks,” which can be seen today at places like White Tank and Barker Dam.

 

In the early years the desert was open range and cattlemen moved their animals seasonally from one area to another in search of adequate food and water. “In those days, if you were a cowpuncher, you had a pair of chaps, a horse and a pack horse, a bedroll, salt, staples, a six-shooter, and a big chew of tobacco.” according to Jim Hester, an early area cowboy.

Did You Know?

Mojave Mound Cactus Bloom

With nearly 750 species of vascular plants, Joshua Tree is renowned for its plant diversity. No wonder that when the area was first proposed for preservation in the early 1930s, the name suggested was Desert Plants National Park. More...