The last stops on this trip was Joshua Tree in California, and Zion in Utah. It was quite the difference, going from the forest to the desert. Joshua tree was a world I was completely unfamiliar with. Houses I drove past had cactus gardens and dirt instead of grass. Tortoise crossing signs instead of deer crossings were along some of the roads. I made a point to do a nature walk in Joshua tree to learn about the desert plants and to learn about the wildlife. Of all the parks, I was able to spot and be close to the most wildlife in Joshua Tree. Some brave cotton tail rabbits (who were probably fed by previous campers) ran through my campsite, a group of Gambels quails wandered through making their funny coo noises, and I was also able to spot a number of jack rabbits and a kit fox. In regards to the grove of Joshua trees that populate the northern part of the park (which are not actual trees but a type of cactus), most of these are probably well over one hundred years old, as Joshua trees only grow about an inch a year, and most are absolutely the size of some small or medium trees that live in the Midwest. From what I understood, there seemed to be lots of research and mystery around many desert plants, as some may hold some medicinal value that were unknown or lost from the indigenous peoples who had lived there.
|The cholla cactus garden|
|A little group of gambels quails in the morning light|
|Some texture from a yucca cactus. Joshua trees are actually in the same family as the yucca, and are not actual trees, but cactus. |
Zion was the absolute busiest I had experienced a national park, as the more intense hikes and climbing were very sought out by most of the visitors. I wasn’t able to spend as much time in Zion as I would have liked, but I was able to take a good amount of time in the rocky terrain. It was an interesting transition point, as Joshua tree was, as there were springs and water running through, and I had encountered cattails up on a hike rather than in the midwest marsh like I was used to! And a few minutes away, higher up, I encountered cactus. The rock formations were so different than the Grand Canyon, which was formed by water, but these at Zion were very apparent of the formation by the movement of the earth’s crust. Instability, warnings of rock slides, and lots of angular formations. A wonderful study of directionality.
I feel like every park I had visited had a visual and history lesson to bring home to me and my work. Overall, the southwest areas where I visited altogether seems more treacherous, and survival was different kind of game. Heat, instability, quick changing weather, erosion, all very inspirational aspects of my travels. Thank you for reading this far into these posts, and I hope you all are doing well. Forever grateful for this experience that I was able to share with you all through these posts, and I would love to share the influence it had on my work soon.