Okay, is it just me or do Joshua Trees bear a striking resemblance to the Truffula Trees in the famous Dr Seuss novel “The Lorax”?
“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.”
― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
There are few quotes more memorable than this from Dr. Seuss’ 1971 classic “The Lorax.” For over 40 years, this book has been reminding kids (and us young at heart adults!) the importance of environmental issues in a way that only Dr Seuss can do. Spending the day in Joshua Tree National Park brought back memories of reading “The Lorax” to Matt as a young kid and makes one think about the importance of preserving these special places.
Lying along the San Andreas Fault, one of the world’s most active tectonic boundaries Joshua Tree National Park preserves an undisturbed population of the Joshua Tree, an integral component of the Mojave Desert ecosystem. Known as the park namesake, the Joshua tree, is a member of the Agave family.
Often confused with the Mojave yucca (also found in the park), this close relative can be distinguished by its longer, wider leaves and fibrous threads curling along leaf margins. The Joshua tree provides a good indicator that you are in the Mojave Desert, but you may also find it growing next to a saguaro cactus in the Sonoran Desert in western Arizona or mixed with pines in the San Bernardino Mountains. According to legend, Mormon pioneers considered the limbs of the Joshua Trees to resemble the up stretched arms of Joshua leading them to the promised land.
Mom & Dad accompanied me on my day trip to this beautiful desert National Park. Entering from the southern gate the Joshua Trees were nowhere to be found in that section of this large park. Even with the size there were few visitor “amenities” besides campgrounds and very informative nature trails. We traveled the park road through to the northwest entrance traveling through a variety of vegetation types from the Cholla patches into the Joshua Tree forests.
The park is known for it’s Joshua Trees, rock formations, night skies and remote wilderness areas.
There are 12 well interpreted short walks and nature trails available for the park visitor to enjoy. We were able to take advantage of a few of these and experience the unique natural history of the park. My plan for the day included exploring some of the dirt roads in the park like the Geology Tour Road but unfortunately due to the recent heavy rains all of the dirt roads in the park were closed.
The Cholla Cactus Garden Trail was a great introduction to this desert cactus with beautiful examples a number of different cholla including Teddy Bear or Jumping Cholla.
The Skull Rock trail led hikers through great rock formations and desert flora. The boulders and rock formations cover the landscape of the park. Although they look on the surface like sandstone, they are instead a kind of granite called “monzogranite” formed 245 million years ago. These rock formations are well loved and well used by rock climbers that come from throughout the world.
“I am the Lorax, and I’ll yell and I’ll shout for the fine things on earth that are on their way out!”
Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
Now back to the Lorax and those darn Truffula Trees………. Climate change threatens Joshua Trees. Less available water means that fewer Joshua Trees can grow and thrive.
It looks like it’s the Park Rangers to the rescue. Leave it up to those dedicated outdoor loving crazy folks in smokey bear hats to help lead the resistance and make sure that the public remains informed about those issues that matter so much to the future health of our planet.
In a recent New York Times op-ed titled “Park Rangers to the Rescue” the author writes:
“Heroes in uniform? No, not by normal standards in normal times. Informing people is what park rangers do.”
Yes it is…….
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
Also from the New York Times op-ed:
“Go rogue, you lovable park rangers and biologists; tell the truth about science, you nerds in funny hats and badges.”
More about other great adventures around Palm Springs in my next post!