Joshua Tree National Park–Where Two Deserts Meet


Palm Springs is not for me, but the open road is.  The drive out of the LA basin takes one northward to a granitic uplifted and very weathered area we call Joshua Tree National Park.  Last time I cruised by this road it was 114F so I kept going.  This week, I spent four days there exploring, hiking and giving four more talks on my NPS Centennial roadtrip.  Up we go……


This is a climbers paradise.  Very weathered golden granite with these peculiar feldspar seams.  Lots of pocket erosion.


Here is a gremlin emerging out of the ground–Skull Rock.


The desert plants are interesting here a Yucca and a Joshua Tree–cousins which have adapted well to this harsh desert climate.  The Colorado and Mojave Deserts join at Joshua Tree National Park.


My talk at Jumbo Rocks Campground draws about 40 hearty folks–it was about that many degrees in Fahrenheit and windy as it gets.  This is a 40 minute Powerpoint talk I gave for the Department of the Interior and can be viewed here.  When I walked around the campground inviting folks, I encountered two shaved headed young fellows who sported a police-like badge–and it wasn’t a municipality they were representing.  It is now legal to carry concealed weapons in national parks–thanks to the NRA.  Perhaps these boys were heading to Malheur Oregon.


The Chollo Cactus Garden about in the center of Joshua Tree NP.  There are no services in this park–only campgrounds with limited facilities.  The roads are excellent but some campgrounds have many years of deferred maintenance.  The NPS in total has an estimated $14B backlog.  Wow!


Next is Lake Havasu City–where these huge monsters streak back and forth on the lake–you can hear these for miles, even when you can’t see the boat.  One of these was priced at $315,000.


London Bridge seems to be a big draw–the surrounding faux-English town was very, very tacky.  This is actually a reinforced cement bridge faced with about 40,000 of the stones taken from the old London Bridge.


Anybody know what this is?  I’m puzzled–something pivots and/or rotates on the left rod.  There is a crown on the wood and the curve seems to match the radius from the pivot.  The board has two set/thumb screws to adjust height & angle.


Rambling onward and northward on old Route 66, now renamed 95, I follow the Colorado River and when I enter Nevada, the roads become wide and absolutely smooth and straight–the trailer is hardly felt behind me.


The basin and range geology is impressive and is well described in John McPhee’s book “Rising from the Plains,”  the story about Wyoming State Geologist Dave Love.  He was a superlative person–I spent many great times with him and heard stories about his father, John, who was also the subject of a book “Lady’s Choice.”   John would swap horses for Butch Cassidy and received a gold pocket watch from him for his efforts and discretion.  According to Wyoming lore, Butch Cassidy died in 1925 as a used car dealer in Spokane Washington…..and I believe it.   Below is Lake Mohave–administered by the National Park Service.


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