• Sunrise at the Cholla Cactus Garden

    Joshua Tree

    National Park California

There are park alerts in effect.
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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.

Environmental Factors

Except for the occasional spectacular wildflower bloom, the desert appears to the casual visitor as an unchanging landscape. In reality it is a dynamic, constantly shifting ecosystem shaped primarily by wind and rain.

Geologic processes are continually at work as well, but are so slow that we only notice their presence in the occasional earthquake. While wildfire and human caused factors such as air pollution and off-road vehicle use can change the landscape very quickly.

The park is a “living laboratory” that helps us understand how environmental factors have shaped this desert ecosystem and how they may be changing it at present. It also shows the sharp contrast between a less-disturbed ecosystem and the completely human-shaped one in the urban areas nearby.

Park staff carefully monitor the effects of changes in air quality, and the effects of nitrogen deposition, wildfires, and invasion by nonnative plant species. Their watchful eyes can alert managers and the public to threats to desert resources in time for useful action.

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...