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Joshua Tree National Park

Looking like something from Dr Seuss, the whimsical Joshua trees (actually tree-sized yuccas) welcome visitors to this 794,000-acre park at the transition zone of two deserts: the low and dry Colorado and the higher, moister and slightly cooler Mojave.

Rock climbers know ‘JT’ as the best place to climb in California; hikers seek out hidden, shady, desert-fan-palm oases fed by natural springs and small streams; and mountain bikers are hypnotized by the desert vistas.

In springtime, the Joshua trees send up a huge single cream-colored flower. Mormon settlers named the trees for their branches stretching up toward heaven, which reminded them of the biblical prophet Joshua pointing the way to the promised land. The mystical quality of this stark, boulder-strewn landscape has inspired many artists, most famously the band U2, who titled their hit 1987 album The Joshua Tree.

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