Growing up in Dublin, Ireland, I first heard the term “Joshua Tree” in 1987 when local rock band U2 released their classic album of the same name. Completely enthralled by the music, I was also captivated by the moody black and white photographs on the album cover which depicted the band in a landscape very different from the one I had grown up in. Some twenty years later, I finally had the opportunity to visit the park with my wife on a road trip during the winter of 2007.
Located about 140 miles east of Los Angeles, California, Joshua Tree National Park straddles two deserts, each with it’s own distinct ecosystem. The hotter Colorado desert sits to the east of the park, and to the west and higher in elevation is the cooler Mojave desert.
With U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name” playing on the car stereo, we entered the park from the town of Twentynine Palms and it wasn’t long before we saw the trees after which the park is named. I had my trusty Harrow camera with me to document what I saw.
Stopping off at various rock formations and monoliths, we got a sense of the ruggedness of the terrain and the beauty of the desert landscape. Above us, rock climbers inched their way up world class climbing routes or worked out on the many bouldering problems scattered about the park making me wish I had packed my climbing shoes and crash pad.
From the overlook at Keys View, the views of the Coachella Valley were partially obscured by smog that rolls into the valley from Los Angeles and the surrounding cities, but we could make out the San Andreas fault and, in the distance to the south, the Salton Sea.
If you are ever in the Southern California area, Joshua Tree National Park is definitely worth a stop.