Joshua Tree National Park was first established as a national monument in 1936 and then became a national park in 1994. The park was established to preserve an ecologically dynamic region of the California Desert, a transition zone between the Colorado and Mojave Deserts. The park provides recreational opportunities to approximately 1.2 million visitors annually, and protects and preserves a rich array of natural and cultural resources.
Despite the seeming vastness of the desert landscape, the park’s ecosystems are fragile and marked by climatic extremes. Natural water sources in the park are scarce, and the land appears parched. Rainfall is infrequent, but sudden downpours occasionally inundate the land.
The park offers remarkable geologic displays of exposed granite monoliths and rugged mountains of rock. Washes, playas, and alluvial fans form an extensive and complex desert mosaic.
In the late 1800s prospectors, cattle ranchers, and miners arrived in the desert. These settlers built dams and mines; their remnants are found at Ryan Ranch, Desert Queen Mine, Barker Dam, and Desert Queen Ranch, which are all popular visitor destinations today.
These stresses to the desert landscape inspired Minerva Hamilton Hoyt, a Pasadena resident, to work to bring national attention to the issue of desert protection. She was instrumental in helping to establish Joshua Tree National Monument in 1936.
Visitors come to Joshua Tree National Park to bird-watch, backpack, camp, hike, horseback ride, and rock climb. The park is recognized worldwide as a rock climbing destination with more than 4,500 established climbing routes concentrated within approximately 100,000 acres of land in the western section of the park. During wet years, the park offers a vivid display of wildflowers, attracting a higher numbers of visitors.
Park Mission Statement
Cultural and Historic Features
Last updated: February 28, 2015