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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Joshua Tree National Park in November

Joshua Tree National Park encompasses 800,000 acres of two major desert ecosystems. Below 3,000 feet elevation, within the Colorado Desert, one sees cholla cactus, creosote, and ocotillo.

Most of the western half of the park is above 3,000 feet elevation. This Sonoran "high desert" is part of the Mojave Desert. The dominant plant is the joshua tree.

A one mile trail through Hidden Valley, said to be a former cattle rustlers' hideout, is bordered by dramatic granite outcroppings, and affords beautiful views.

With our new macro lens we captured this image of a lady bug.

Extensive granite outcroppings exposed by erosion appear as if boulders had been piled in great heaps. These rocks draw campers to sites nestled among the boulders and climbers wanting to hone their skills.

Several oases throughout the park provide water and support different plant and animal communities. A morning walk at the Oasis of Mara is a great time to spot desert cottontails, roadrunners, phainopepla, mourning dove, and mockingbirds.