Joshua Tree National Park in California has a lot of moods and expressions, what with its boulder fields, cholla gardens, and joshua trees. But when conditions are just right, sundown seems to put them all to shame.
Joshua Tree National Park
Many national parks include inholdings, privately-owned property which poses a potential threat for development that would be detrimental to surrounding park lands. Unfortunately, Congress often fails to appropriate funds in a timely fashion to purchase these inholdings, even if an owner wants to sell to the NPS. In the case of three California desert parks, a non-profit partner is helping to fill this gap.
If you’ve got some extra time in California this winter, take a detour to three fascinating desert parks. Winter in the Mojave Desert brings blue skies, cool temps, and fewer visitors.
National parks around the country continue to push out proposals to increase fees in an effort to fund their operations. Among the latest proposals is one for a $20 day pass at Rocky Mountain National Park.
While more than a few parks are winding down their high seasons and getting ready to ease into the winter months, at Joshua Tree National Park in California the high season is coming and to prepare the park has reopened all of its campgrounds.
Parks, especially those in locations with minimal night sky distractions from artificial light, can be great locations for observing—and photographing—celestial events such as Monday's so-called Super Moon. A number of parks offer special night sky programs, but your opportunities to enjoy those out-of-the-world scenes aren't limited to organized events. As the photo accompanying this story confirms, the right locale and timing can provide a chance for a super photo.
The Western Banded Gecko, or Coleonyx variegatus, is no stranger to beating the heat. Their nocturnal lifestyle is ideal for the sizzling desert climate. You are more likely to encounter them on a night stroll under the stars than in the mid-day sun. Though many confuse the Western Banded Gecko with young Gila monsters, they are much smaller and lack venomous characteristics.
It long has been expected that as the climate warms, vegetation would react by moving. Both north in latitude, and up in elevation. Now new research confirms that "because of the combination of climate change and habitat loss, up to one-quarter of the total area of the National Park System is vulnerable to vegetation shifting up slope and northward."
National Park Service rangers from across the park system have been honored by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell for valor in the line of duty.
Each Spring, a group of dedicated volunteers and park staff members conduct an annual butterfly count at Joshua Tree National Park to catalog species found inside the park. The park's wilderness areas offer many such opportunities for ongoing scientific discovery, and this year's effort yielded an exciting surprise: a new butterfly species for the park.