• 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.

Animals

Despite the impression that the desert is lifeless, many animals make their homes in deserts. Birds, lizards, and ground squirrels are most likely to be seen because they are largely active during the day. However, it is at night that desert animals come out to roam. Mostly nocturnal animals include: snakes, bighorn sheep, kangaroo rats, coyotes, and black-tailed jack rabbits. Dusk and dawn are good times for viewing many kinds of animals, both those just going to bed and those just getting up.

Animals that thrive in desert environments often have special adaptations for dealing with limited water and high summer temperatures. One does not walk far in the desert without seeing a multitude of burrow openings. The smaller mammals and all reptiles take refuge from the heat underground.

Desert mammals make more efficient use of their bodies’ water supply than does the human body. Reptiles are physiologically adapted to getting along with little water, and birds can fly to water sources when they need a drink. Nevertheless, the springs and seeps in the park are necessary to the survival of many animals.

Most of the reptiles and many small rodents and insects go into an inactive state of hibernation during the winter. However, winter is the time of greatest bird concentrations in the park, because of the presence of many migrant species.

Did You Know?

Wilderness Map

Joshua Tree National Park has over 550,000 acres of wilderness, offering visitors opportunities to explore where few others have ventured. More...