For a first-time visitor the desert may appear bleak and drab. Viewed from the road, the desert only hints at its vitality. Closer examination reveals a fascinating variety of plants and animals. A rich cultural history and surreal geologic features add to the attraction of Joshua Tree National Park. Two deserts and two large ecosystems whose characteristics are determined primarily by elevation, come together at Joshua Tree National Park. Below 3,000-feet, the Colorado Desert encompasses the eastern part of the park and features natural gardens of creosote bush, ocotillo, and cholla cactus. The higher, moister, and slightly cooler Mojave Desert is the special habitat of the Joshua tree. In addition to Joshua tree forests, the western part of the park also includes some of the most interesting geologic displays found in California's deserts. Five fan palm oases also dot the park, indicating those few areas where water occurs naturally and wildlife abounds. There are 12 self-guiding nature trails, scenic views, ranger programs, mountain bike trails, and camping.
Days are typically clear with less than 25 precent humidity. Temperatures are most comfortable in the spring and fall, with an average high/low of 85 and 50°F (29 and 10°C) respectively. Winter brings cooler days, around 60°F (15°C), and freezing nights. It occasionally snows at higher elevations. Summers are hot, over 100°F (38°C) during the day and not cooling much below 75°F (24°C) until the early hours of the morning.