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
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.
A great way to get your son or daughter into the outdoors this summer, and possibly have them earn some money at the same time, is to have them apply for one of many jobs that exist for teens across the National Park System.
If you live in the vicinity of Joshua Tree National Park and have considered joining the park's search and rescue team, make plans to attend a meeting at the park on February 2. The gathering will provide information about a variety of opportunities with the team, and the requirements for serving in each type of assignment.
The science around the change of seasons will be the topic of a one-day workshop at Joshua Tree National Park this Saturday.