Diverse Landscapes

View from the Top of Ryan Mountain
View from the Top of Ryan Mountain. National Park Service photograph

Joshua Tree National Park encompasses lands where the Mojave and Colorado deserts meet. Much of its nearly 800,00 acres are designated as wilderness. The diverse landscape supports varied ecologies, including plant communities and landforms from low basins to mountain ranges.

The Joshua tree forest in the northwestern portion of the park covers the 4,000-foot-high valleys of the Little San Bernardino Mountains. Some valleys have plants found nowhere else on earth.

Desert basins in the eastern portion of the park can sink below 2,000 feet and summer temperatures may reach 120°F. Creosote, ocotillo, and cholla cacti dominate, and Joshua trees are not present.

Last updated: August 3, 2023