One of the last great wildernesses in the continental United States, Joshua Tree National Park teems with fascinating landscapes and life forms. It attracts around 1.5 million visitors each year, yet is mysteriously quiet at dawn and dusk. The park features ruggedly beautiful desert scenery, enormous boulders and jagged rocks, natural cactus gardens, and lush oases shaded by elegant fan palms. The landscape shifts abruptly from the arid stubble of the low Sonoran Desert to vast stands of the park's namesake Joshua trees in the higher, wetter Mojave Desert. Members of the yucca family of shrubs, the plants' unruly limbs are said to have reminded Mormon pioneers of the prophet Joshua's outstretched arms reaching toward heaven.
- Rock climbing Joshua Tree is a world-class site with challenges for climbers of just about every skill level.
- Peace and quiet Roughly two hours from Los Angeles, this great wilderness is the ultimate escape from technology.
- Stargazing You'll be mesmerized by the Milky Way flowing across the summer sky. For spectacular natural fireworks, visit in mid-August during the Perseid meteor shower and watch shooting stars streak overhead.
- Wildflowers In spring, the hillsides explode in a patchwork of yellow, blue, pink, and white.
- Sunsets Twilight is a magical time here, especially during the winter, when the setting sun casts a golden glow on the mountains.