• 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.

Stargazing

The Milky Way from Indian Cove Campground

The Milky Way from Indian Cove Campground

© Wally Pacholka/AstroPics.com

It is estimated that only around 10 percent of the population of the United States is able to see the night sky in its natural, unpolluted state. No wonder visitors to Joshua Tree National Park are awed and astounded when they get their first glimpse of the night sky.

Tour the Milky Way
Camping away from city lights gives many of us city dwellers a chance to see the sky as we have never seen it. A great way to introduce someone to the “dark sky” is to tour the Milky Way with binoculars.

Find one of those star clouds and, without taking your gaze away from it, raise your binoculars to your eyes. The cloud will resolve into hundreds of stars, with perhaps smaller clumps and hazy patches in the field of view.

Notice how the Milky Way seems to be very bright and dense to the south near the horizon? You are looking toward the center of our galaxy, where the stars are richest.

To help identify the many objects you will find with binoculars, you will want a star chart. A circular “star finder,” also known as a “planisphere,” will show the location of many celestial objects.

Did You Know?

49 Palms Oasis

Five of North America's 158 desert fan palm oases are located in Joshua Tree National Park, where fault lines force water to the surface. More...