Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park Celebrates 75th Anniversary

June 16, 2011, 9:56 am

By Heather Crowley

The 75th anniversary of Joshua Tree National Park kicked off in 2011 and continues through the summer. To celebrate, there will be a variety of events occurring in the park and in the surrounding community of Twentynine Palms.

Situated in Southern California, the park encompasses parts of the Colorado and Mojave Deserts. Despite the appearance of desolation, a wide variety of plants and animals are able to thrive in the park. The famed Joshua Tree, for which the park is named, lives throughout most of the western half of the park.

Minerva Hamilton Hoyt, a Pasadena socialite who was extremely fond of cacti and desert plants, became concerned about the wanton removal and destruction of desert flora. Her tireless efforts to protect this area culminated in the preservation of 825,000 acres as Joshua Tree National Monument in 1936. Joshua Tree did not receive National Park status until October 31, 1994 as part of the Desert Protection Bill.

Smaller, shrublike plants, such as the California juniper and pinyon pine, survive in the arid park. The park’s diverse flora is matched by its fauna, including herds of desert bighorn and six species of rattlesnakes. Migratory birds fly along the Pacific flyway, which also transects the park

Birding is an extremely popular activity in the park. 78 species of birds nest and raise their young in the park, but many more migrate through the area. Perhaps the most famous resident is the roadrunner.

Joshua Tree is an excellent place to travel with the family and if you are bringing along the little ones, be sure to print out activity sheets from the anniversary website before heading out. Learn together by completing the “Be Desert Smart” booklet, available at the anniversary website, and turn it in at the visitor center for a desert smart certificate and decal for your car.

Have you seen something amazing in Joshua Tree National Park and snapped a photo of it? Enter the Joshua Tree photo contest that runs through July 15. The winning photo will be used for the front of Joshua Tree National Park Annual Pass.

If you are looking to relax after a long day, movies will be screened at every Thursday evening during the months of June and July in Luckie Park, located in Twentynine Palms. The showings will start at 8 p.m. The films will be family-friendly and geared towards younger children, with a rating of G or PG.