Interesting and fun facts about Joshua Tree National Park for kids, perfect for homeschooling, travel planning, family trivia nights.
People often describe is a place’ out of this world’, ‘unique’ or ‘like a different planet’ and, indeed, it is a place like no other.
But what makes Joshua Tree NP unique? Let’s find out with these fun facts about Joshua Tree National Park!
Fun facts about Joshua Tree National Park, California
Joshua Tree is in Southern California, close to Los Angeles and Palm Springs.
Joshua Tree is special as it is a place where two different desert systems meet: the Mojave, or high desert, and the Colorado desert, or low desert.
The two deserts meeting in Joshua Tree are very different from each other as they are at different elevations.
The Eastern part of the park is the Colorado desert and lies below 3000 feet above sea level.
The Western part of the park is the Mojave desert: the elevation here is above 3000 feet and the landscape has boulders, Mojave yucca and the famous Joshua trees.
The Joshua Tree boulders are peculiar to this park and formed over millions of years.
The oldest rocks in the park, the Pinto gneiss, are 1.7 billion years old!
The most peculiar characteristic of Joshua Tree National parks is the Joshua tree.
They have a very special shape that makes them unique and easy to recognize. Tall and skinny, they remind you of a person stretching their arms towards the sky.
This peculiar shape is what gave them their name.
In the XIX century, Mormons settlers in the area thought the tree reminded them of the prophet Joshua, with its arms stretched towards the heavens and gave them this name, still in use nowadays.
They are also very reminiscent of drawings in the Sr Seuss’ books. Dr Seuss spent part of his life in La Jolla, California, and much of his art was inspired by Californian nature.
The Joshua Trees are not really trees but a type of yucca: however, they can be as tall as 40 feet and indeed do look like trees, bearing blooms between February and April.
Joshua trees can grow 15 to 40 feet in height and 1 to 3 feet in diameter so they are pretty big!
You see them standing alone or, sometimes, in bigger clusters spreading along the desert slopes
They have spiky looking leaves and they are evergreen.
They are said to be able to live up to 1000 years but in the wild, they usually live 100-200 years
Despite being a desert, Joshua Tree is home to a lot of animals. Animals you can meet in Joshua Tree are bighorn sheep, birds, jackrabbits, kangaroo rats and lots of snakes.
In Joshua Tree National Park, you have several types of rattlesnakes and tarantulas: you can learn about them at the visitors centers where the rangers will tell you all you need to know about the animals and how to keep them (and you!) safe.
Joshua Tree has been inhabited for thousands of years.
The oldest traces found here tell us about Pinto Culture, followed by Cahuilla, Chemehuevi, and Serrano people.
Joshua Tree became a national monument in 1936 under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and then National Park in 1994.
Joshua Tree National Park covers an area of 3,200 square kilometers (1,235 square miles / 320,000 hectares / 790,636 acres).
The park has 6 different mountain ranges: the Little San Bernardino Mountains, the Cottonwood, Hexie, and Pinto Mountains, the Eagle and Coxcomb Mountains.
The tallest mountain in Joshua tree is Quail Mountain, which is 1,773 meters high (5,816 feet).
Joshua Tree national park is a popular California destination: people come here to see the landscape, hike and stargaze at night, making the most of the dark sky of this desert area.
In the fall, special programs for kids take place including some Dr Seuss inspired ones such as the ‘I speak for the tree’ initiative, which teaches kids about the park, its nature and its conservation challenges.
The sources of info for this page and the junior ranger booklet and the official information material from the park itself as well as web sources lined to in this article.