Joshua Tree National Park

At the top of Matt's list of things to see while in the Palm Springs area was Joshua Tree National Park.

A short 45-minute drive from Palm Springs takes us to a town called, what else, Joshua Tree.

It's an absolutely beautiful area with huge rock formations that formed millions of years ago when cooling magma beneath the earth's surface came in contact with rainwater seeping down. The water created cracks and crevices in the magma, and as time went on, the earth heaved and shifted and these craggy, broken rocks were pushed to the surface. Neat!

There are miles of beautiful roadway within the park. Drive your car a little ways, park in the designated areas, get out and walk around, and climb some rocks if you feel brave.

We saw one little lizard while we were here. It was too fast to snap a picture of. We also saw a small lizard outside the Kaufmann House, and one scurrying across the sidewalk by the hotel. I caught a glimpse of a roadrunner too! Being from Wisconsin, desert wildlife is very exciting to me!

This place is a rock climbers paradise. We say many, many people up very high on these rocks.

This gives you an idea of how huge these rocks are, stacked on top of each other. Very cool!


As another adventure, on our last day we decided to go see the Salton Sea. It was HOT here! We didn't stay long, because of the heat, but we did get some good photos and learned a lot about it. The Salton Sea is an actual salt water sea located directly on the San Andreas Fault line. It is far below sea level--the deepest part of the Sea is 5 feet higher than the lowest point in Death Valley! Long story short, the Sea as it is today, started to form in 1905 when heavy rainfall and snow melt caused the Colorado River to bust at the seams at the Alamo Canal. Over the next few years, the entire volume of the Colorado emptied into the Salton Sink, forming the Salton Sea.

The Salton Sea area used to be a bustling tourist attraction in the mid-1920's, due to its abundant fishing and water recreation, but has since been nearly completely abandoned. We didn't see any, but there are ghost towns all around the Sea.

Every year, the Sea loses more water than it gains, thereby becoming more and more salty, and more and more inhospitable to fish and other wildlife. The Sea is a big attraction to migrating birds, and at one time, it was reported that 4 million birds were on the Sea at one time. The Sea is also becoming more and more polluted as the water concentrates and more waste water runoff is entering it.

What looks like beautiful white sand from afar is actually crushed shell and bone lining the perimeter of the Sea, due to the high number of creatures that perish from the harsh saline environment.

The view of the mountains above the Sea is beautiful.

I'm so glad we decided to check this place out on our last day. It is very unique and has an incredible story behind it. Hopefully, something is done to clean it up and rescue it from becoming so polluted as to no longer support the millions of birds and other animals that use this Sea as an oasis in the desert.

Check out Wikipedia for info on the Salton Sea.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Beautiful pictures! Thanks for sharing.

    I find the Joshua Tree National Park especially interesting (think I'll go there, too, one day), because I've got small Joshua Trees on my windowsill at the moment, sown from seeds. They are about two years old. But it will take a lot more time and patience until they even closely resemble the specimens you took pictures of. ;)