Natural Features & Ecosystems

Joshua Tree encompasses three of California’s ecoregions. Its geology shows the effects of plate tectonics, volcanism, mountain-building, and stark erosion. With elevations ranging from 900 feet to over 5,000 feet above sea level, the park is home to a diversity of biological communities found nowhere else in such proximity. Sand dunes, dry lakes, flat valleys, extraordinarily rugged mountains, granitic monoliths, and oases are all found within its nearly 800,000 acres. Each feature makes its contribution to the natural tapestry of the southwest.
A colorful closeup of a cryptobiotic crust.

Cryptobiotic Crusts

Also known as desert glue, this layer of biotic organisms is hidden in plain sight on top of the soil!

The sun shining over a mostly brown landscape with some green vegetation and rocks and mountains in


Learn about what makes a desert ecosystem and why we have desert ecosystems in this part of California!

A bird standing in and drinking water

Desert Springs Monitoring

Join staff from the Mojave Desert Inventory and Monitoring Network for a day in the field monitoring desert springs.

A group of fan palm trees

Fan Palms

There are five palm oases in the park!

A line of small hill-like ridges in a valley, mountains in the background.


Joshua Tree is crisscrossed with hundreds of faults, and it is a great place to see raw rocks and the effects of earthquakes.

Alt text: A person in a tan volunteer uniform excitedly holds up a rock as they stand in front of a


Joshua Tree was once home to Columbian mammoths, saber-toothed cats, dire wolves, giant ground sloths, horses, camels, and llamas!

A rock formations with large cracks running through it.

Geological Formations

Geologists believe the face of our modern landscape was born more than 100 million years ago.

Alt text: Snow dusts the top of a mountain cast in golden light.


Within the park there are six distinct mountain ranges.

Color photo of a backpacker hiking through the Coxcomb Mountains.


Today, about 85% of Joshua Tree National Park is managed as wilderness.

Last updated: March 7, 2022

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74485 National Park Drive
Twentynine Palms , CA 92277-3597


760 367-5500

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