|Above, one of the rock formations at the southern end of the park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
The closest national park to Los Angeles is Joshua Tree National Park.
CNN Travel currently is running a series on the national parks and WENY-TV News has posted their article on "How to make the most of Joshua Tree National Park".
It begins with:
Editor's note: To mark National Park Week, CNN Travel is featuring several stories about the country's national parks, seashores, historic sites and more.
JOSHUA TREE, California (CNN) -- Joshua Tree sits roughly two and a half hours east of Los Angeles by car, a majestic desert paradise of 792,510 acres of national park lands squished between the palm-tree lined boulevards of Palm Springs to the south and the eccentric, rugged town of Joshua Tree to the north.
The area's namesake is the Joshua tree, which isn't technically a tree, but a member of the agave family. The plant was first named by Mormon trekkers who said the outstretched limbs reminded them of Joshua reaching his hands to the sky in prayer.
It is easy to find anthropomorphic shapes in their crooked trunks and misshapen tufts, and driving through expanses of them can feel a bit like wandering into a Dr. Seuss forest.
The park is split into two distinct desert ecosystems. The western portion is occupied by the Mojave Desert, and that's where you'll find Joshua trees, teetering stacks of sand-colored boulders and the occasional rattlesnake. The Mojave is known as the high desert, with elevations above 3,000 feet.
In the eastern half of the park you'll find the Colorado Desert, a flatter ecosystem below 3,000 feet that is known for milder weather and blossoming vibrant wild flowers if you travel there in March and April.
The entire park is larger than Rhode Island, and you could fill up an entire week hiking every trail and climbing every rock. But these days a trip to Joshua Tree also means chasing art, music, food and the occasional sound bath (don't worry, we'll explain) through the neighboring towns of Yucca Valley, Pioneertown and Twentynine Palms.
To read more, go here.