Visitors who make the nearly 1,000-foot climb to the summit of Ryan Mountain during the upcoming National Park Week will be treated to a stunning view across a vast stretch of Joshua Tree National Park encompassing desert mountain ranges, mazes of granite boulders, historic gold mines, and uncounted numbers of Joshua trees- all of it free. National Park Week, whose theme this year is "Picture Yourself in a National Park," will run from Saturday, April 21 through Sunday, April 29. Throughout the country, visitors can enjoy the beauty and wonder of 84 million acres of the world's most spectacular scenery, historic places and cultural treasures free of the customary park entrance fees. Camping and other fees will still be collected, however.
"America's national parks have something for everyone," said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. "Take a break and experience something new, enjoy some fresh air, get some exercise, and see where history happened. And, since admission is free to all 397 parks, all week long, National Park Week is a great time to get up, get out, and explore a park." Apart from the outstanding opportunities national parks present for outdoor recreation, they are also wonderful stress relievers. Natural quiet and solitude are never far away at Joshua Tree National Park, and spring is an especially good time to enjoy the park's natural wonders as many desert plants and park wildlife are at the peak of their annual activity.
In addition to regularly scheduled ranger-guided programs, special activities for visitors during the week include:
- Saturday, April 21-9 am to Noon-National Junior Ranger Day at the Echo Tee parking area, near Hidden Valley Campground. A fire truck, ranger patrol car, and a large earth mover will be parked for kids to explore. A solar astronomy telescope will be available for looking at the sun. Smoky Bear will be on hand to greet Junior Rangers. Contact George Land at 760-367-5507 for additional information.
- Friday & Saturday, April 27 & 28-10 am to 4 pm-Biodiversity Hunt at 49 Palms Oasis. Visitors who make the 1.5-mile hike to the oasis can view scientists, community naturalists, and park staff as they race to identify "all the living things" at the 49 Palms Oasis and riparian area. Biodiversity Hunt scientists will deliver hands-on talks at the site throughout the day.
Park Superintendent Mark Butler reminds everyone that National Park Week can also be a time to think about the benefits national parks bring to the American people. "The people of southern California have long looked to Joshua Tree as a place of refuge and recreation. We hope that as they visit us during National Park Week, they will also think about how they can become more involved. There are many ways people can support the park, and rangers will be happy to suggest ways people can make a difference."
For general information about park services and facilities, visitors can call 760-367-5500, or visit the Joshua Tree National Park website.