Joshua Tree National Park Hike – California, US
Joshua Tree National Park is an American national park in southeastern California, east of San Bernardino and Los Angeles and north Palm Springs.
It is named after the Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) native to the Mojave Desert.
Originally declared a national monument in 1936, Joshua Tree was redesignated as a national park in 1994 when the U.S. Congress passed the California Desert Protection Act.
Encompassing a total of 790,636 acres (1,235.4 sq mi; 3,199.6 km2) – slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island – the park includes 429,690 acres (671.4 sq mi; 1,738.9 km2) of designated wilderness.
Straddling San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, the park includes parts of two deserts, each an ecosystem whose characteristics are determined primarily by elevation: the higher Mojave Desert and the lower Colorado Desert. The Little San Bernardino Mountains traverse the southwest edge of the park.
The earliest known residents of the land in and around what later became Joshua Tree National Park were the people of the Pinto Culture, who lived and hunted here between 8000 and 4000 BCE.
Their stone tools and spear points, discovered in the Pinto Basin in the 1930s, suggest that they hunted game and gathered seasonal plants, but little else is known about them.
Later residents included the Serrano, the Cahuilla, and the Chemehuevi peoples. All three lived at times in small villages in or near water, particularly the Oasis of Mara in what non-aboriginals later called Twentynine Palms.
They were hunter-gatherers who subsisted largely on plant foods supplemented by small game, amphibians, and reptiles while using other plants for making medicines, bows and arrows, baskets, and other articles of daily life.
A fourth group, the Mojaves, used the local resources as they traveled along trails between the Colorado River and the Pacific coast. In the 21st century, small numbers of all four peoples live in the region near the park; the Twentynine Palms Band of Mission Indians, descendants of the Chemehuevi, own a reservation in Twentynine Palms.
In 1772, a group of Spaniards led by Pedro Fages made the first European sightings of Joshua trees while pursuing native converts to Christianity who had run away from a mission in San Diego.
By 1823, the year Mexico achieved independence from Spain, a Mexican expedition from Los Angeles, in what was then Alta California, is thought to have explored as far east as the Eagle Mountains in what later became the park.
Three years later, Jedediah Smith led a group of American fur trappers and explorers along the nearby Mojave Trail, and others soon followed. Two decades after that, the United States defeated Mexico in the Mexican–American War (1846–48) and took over about half of Mexico’s original territory, including California and the future parkland.