Joshua Tree National Park

This particular drive, comprising Park Blvd and Pinto Basin Road, is around 2 hours and ten minutes if you don't plan to stop and check out the park. However, you definitely will want to take your time on this drive as it is one of the most beautiful arid landscapes in the South West. 

The Joshua Tree, or Yucca brevifolia, only exist in the SouthWest. It thrives in grassland areas in the Mohave Desert above 1300 feet in elevation. It is a dense tree and has often been thought of as being the inspiration for the fictional Truffula trees in the Lorax by Dr. Suess.

Many people call the park the 'Land of Suess'. 

Like the Truffula Tree in Dr. Suess, the Joshua Trees are having a difficult time dealing with the consequences of global warming and suffer from smog and air pollution blowing into the area. This tree is also challenged by increased temperatures. The state of California is taking action however and the Joshua Tree is the first tree protected due to climate change.

Attractions

Cholla Cactus Garden Trail

This trail has a high concentration of Cholla Cacti, considered some of the cutest cacti in the world. This cactus has been nicknamed the teddy bear cactus- just make sure not to touch them! This is a very easy trail and is quite short making this a popular trail for families and children. 

Arch Rock Trail

Another short trail leads to an arch that spans nearly 30 feet. This trail is adjacent to a campground and is quite popular. There are other trail systems that branch off of the main trail if you want a longer hike.

Skull Rock

The skull rock trail is a 1.8 mile round trip loop with moderate elevation gain. Be sure to take sunscreen and some water with you as it can get quite hot and there is no shade. The rock itself is one of the more popular destinations and there is an abundant amount of wildflowers in bloom if you hike this in the right season. 

Hidden Valley

Hidden Valley, found right off of Park Blvd, is a one-mile self-guided trail and is one of the most popular trails in the park system. The beautiful rock formations provide opportunities for rock climbing and make this a very scenic trail. Due to the valley and it's location, the valley has a unique miro-habitat and has a wide variety of plants and animals not seen in the other areas of the park.  

Keys View

This is a fantastic view of the Coachella Valley and the Salton Sea and well worth the 20-minute drive down Keys View Road. This valley was created by the infamous San Andreas and San Jacinto Faults which created the mountains and deep valleys in the area. San Jacinto Peak, the mountain behind Palm Springs, has one of the abrupt and steepest inclines in North America and these faults are capable of producing major earthquakes.