Twentynine Palms is a town of about 25,000 people located in the Mojave Desert on the north side of the Joshua Tree National Park. It was named for the palm trees found there in 1852 by Col. Henry Washington while surveying the area.
Joshua Tree National Park is the only national park that encompasses two distinct ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado. It was declared a national park in 1994 when the US Congress passed the California Desert Protection Act. The elevation in the park ranges from 1,900 feet above sea level to over 5,500 feet.
The Joshua Tree, which can grow to 40 feet tall, is neither tree nor cactus, rather it is a variety of yucca, a member of the Agave family. It only grows above 3,000 feet because its germination process requires it to experience freezing temperatures. The Joshua Tree and the yucca moth enjoy a symbiotic relationship. The moth collects pollen while laying her eggs inside the Joshua Tree flower. As seeds develop and mature, the eggs hatch into larvae, which feed on the seeds. So each relies upon the other for their survival.
Throughout the park you will see very interesting collections of stacked boulders with unlikely shapes. They appear to be somewhat smooth and rounded but clearly have been pushed up through the surface. The formations began some 100 million years ago as a molten form of granite. This molten rock rose up and intruded into the overlying rock. As the granite cooled, cracks formed horizontally and vertically. Eventually, the surface soil eroded leaving these piles of boulders exposed across the landscape.
We took many enjoyable hikes here including Jumbo Rocks, Hidden Valley, Ryan Mountain and 49 Palms Canyon.
Next stop: Desert Hot Springs, CA