Photos by Cheryl Landes
Joshua Tree National Park, about an hour’s drive from Palm Springs, California, spans two deserts: the Mojave and Colorado. It’s a stark landscape carved by strong winds and occasional heavy rainfall. Despite its location, the deserts are full of life. Grasses, cactus, yucca, lichen, and other plants thrive, as well as birds, mammals, insects, and lizards.
And then there’s the park’s namesake, the Joshua tree.
The Joshua tree is a member of the Agave family, in the same subgroup that includes grasses and orchids. Some trees are bushy. Others are spindly. All grow in odd, beautiful shapes. When the trees bloom in the spring, the blossoms are often mistaken for yucca.
Native Americans worked the Joshua tree leaves into handmade sandals and baskets and ate the flower buds and seeds.
According to legend, Mormon immigrants named the trees after Joshua, a Biblical figure.
Today’s tour takes place in the early spring, when native flowers and the Joshua trees are beginning to bloom. We’ll also linger for the sunset, which transforms the trees into interesting silhouettes.