Where the Mojave and Colorado deserts converge, you will find 794,000 acres under the protection of Joshua Tree National Park. The mojave desert side of the park is home to joshua trees, yuccas, massive rocks piled on top of each other, and several types of cacti, to name a few points of interest.
I was fascinated by the desert wildflowers that provided pops of color all around us. The juniper stretched out like horizontal trees. The flat yet poetic landscape provided a calming view of the world.
We stayed at Jumbo Rocks campground. The name did not disappoint. There were indeed jumbo rocks everywhere in that area. The second half of the following photos showcases these desert skyscrapers. I hear, from Seth and his uncle who climbed a jumble, the sandy texture is painful without gloves. You can see them climbing in one of the photos ahead. The visitor center warns to have proper training and equipment before climbing.
Why do these rocks look so cool?
At first glance, the vertical boulders look like they were assembled and stacked by the hands of a baby giant playing in a sandbox. I’m sorry to say, there was no baby giant. The rock formations tell the story of magma 100 million years ago. Way back in the day, before cell phones and the internet, these rocks were in molten (liquid) form due to heat from Earth’s moving crust. This specific rock is called monzogranite. It was really deep down in the Earth. As the molten monzogranite oozed up, it cooled before reaching the surface. And like everyone in a midlife crisis, it cracked all over, vertically. Over what seemed like millions of years, oh wait, it was millions of years, the monzogranite cracked edges were rounded by water from the surface. Some of chemical eroding created triangle shapes because more water eroded the top of the monzogranite than the bottom. But wait, it doesn’t end there. Fast forward millions of years, flash floods and wind washed away the clay and dirt that the monzogranite was floating in. As their surroundings eroded, the monzogranite rocks ended up standing on top of each other. That’s why all the rocks look like they’re stacked.
Jumbo Rocks was at full capacity that weekend. Our block had a party crowd. If you have never camped in the desert, sound travels far and loud. So it really depends the type of camping you’re in the mood for. Some of the animals I saw were the black tailed jackrabbit, redtailed hawk, western screech owl, pinacate beetle, and the leg of a bighorn sheep. My brochure tells me the desert tortoise lives in the park. I wonder how common it is to see one? We arrived in the early evening and left in the morning so we did not get to spend a lot of time there. We can’t wait to go back and enjoy it more.
Disclaimer: I highly encourage you to view this blog post on a device other than your phone. The vivid colors hardly showed up when I previewed the post on my (old-ish) iphone.
2. Joshua Tree National Park brochure from the visitor’s center.