Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Joshua Tree National Park - The Colorado Desert

As I mentioned in my last post, JTNP is the location where 2 different desert ecosystems come together, the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert. While the Mojave Desert is at higher elevations (above 3000ft) and is characterized by the Joshua Trees, the lower elevations (less than 3000 ft) is part of the Colorado Desert and home to some very interesting cactii species.

The Pinto Basin

We entered the part from the North Entrance (Twentynine Palms) and very soon we were surrounded by the vastness of the Colorado Desert. As we drove along, and took mini-trails to capture the scenes into our camera, we realized that the camera was not doing justice to the views. The panoramic views of the Pinto basin, for example, as captured by the camera were not half as good as the actual views themselves. Now that may be our camera (we have a point and shoot and not a digital SLR and I have been making a case to my husband to buy a DSLR) or it maybe the fact that the field of vision of the human eye is much bigger than what any camera has.

The Cholla Cactus Garden

In any case, as we saw the Pinto Basin in the distance and drove towards it, we noticed a cactii "garden" of sorts on our right hand side. I call it a garden because it was actually a fairly small concentrated patch, in the middle of nowhere, of these strange looking cactii called the Cholla (its not pronounced chholla, but rather choya). They had dark brown trunks and yellowish green prickly tips.

A closer look at this strange cactus

There were warning signs telling us to keep to the path because the prickly tops "fly" (break and even a slight wind draft is enough to carry them into the air) and stick to passerbys. The needles apparently are a pain to take out.

The Octillo Cactus

Next to the Cholla garden were also these Octillo cactii - now these I am sure I had seen before in the Anza Borrego Desert. Actually I saw one of them there and here they were in plenty.

I was definitely more impressed by the Joshua tree but the Cholla cactii were also nice and different to look at. And so though there was not much to see in the lower elevations of the park, the time spent there was not totally wasted. Plus the view of the Pinto Basin was enough for me to go "wow! that is huge".


rbgilbert said...

Very nice photos. The ocotillo is not a cactus, though. It's related to the azalea!

Pooja Aggarwal said...

Thanks for visiting, rbgilbert. I sort of assumed that it is a cactus given that it also goes by the name "vine cactus". Will have to double check on this.

Mridula said...

Pooja, even with a DSLR I feel I cancont capture the real beauty in my shots but that could be just me :(

Loved the strange cactus picture.

letsknow said...

Nice pics and nice write up on Joshua national park. I am planning to go there and your post has kindled my interests a lot.