We spent an afternoon at Joshua Tree National Park. The park is named after the Joshua tree, which is a species of yucca, and is abundant there. And it is yet another beautiful desert landscape.
The park protects 794,000 acres, much of it in the overlap between the Colorado and Mojave deserts. This means that species from each of those desert ecosystems inhabit the park.
The Western half of the park, the Mojave desert habitat, above 3,000 feet, is where the Joshua trees are found. In this half, there is also hedgehog cactus, juniper, prickly pear cactus and black-tailed jackrabbit, desert spiny lizards and desert woodrat.
The Eastern half, the Colorado desert habitat, below 3,000 feet, is part of the much larger Sonoran Desert, where we spent some time this winter in Arizona. Here there is ocotillo, palo verde, brittlebrush, pencil cholla and kit fox, kangaroo rat and zebratail lizard.
The transition zone between both deserts has bighorn sheep, cactus wren, greater roadrunner, Gambel’s quail, desert iguana and desert tortoise. There are rattlesnakes in both deserts, though they are different types.
We spent the afternoon in the Western half of the park, since we wanted to see the Joshua trees. Although we missed the peak desert flowers, there were still some flowering cacti. And the Joshua trees were very cool.
We didn’t see much wildlife, just quail and a few lizards but we did have a chance to watch a beautiful moon rise that evening. It was the night before the full moon, so there was a big, bright lovely moon rising through a slightly hazy sky, no doubt a result of sandstorms the day before.
We stayed until after dusk. The park was pretty quiet, but after dusk it seemed that there was no one there but us. But we spotted a few “astronomers” by the side of the road waiting for the lunar eclipse, which was supposed to take place around midnight.
That night after Hector went to bed I stayed up to watch the lunar eclipse. I wanted to see the “red” moon. But at one in the morning, all I saw was the sun blocking the moon and no red, just a slightly grey tone. So I decided to go to bed. I was looking forward to seeing the full moon the next day over the desert. But it was not to be.