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Joshua Tree National Park > Roadside Interpretations

Barren or Bountiful

It seems to me that the strangeness and wonder of existence are emphasized here, in the desert, by the comparative sparsity of the flora and fauna: life not crowded upon life ... with a generous gift of space for each herb and bush and tree, each stem of grass, so that the living organism stands bold and brave and vivid against the lifeless sand and barren rock.
-Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire, 1968.

Look around you. Perhaps you see a stark land that nature never quite got around to finishing. Or you may see potential mineral wealth, defense testing grounds, alternative energy sources, or a vast recreational playground. Or maybe you see the desert for what it is- a diverse, thriving ecosystem.

Deserts are not deserted, but teeming with life- insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals; algae, fungi, cacti, flowers, shrubs, and trees. All are well adapted to conserve water, cope with temperature extremes, escape predators, and survive the sun, wind, and sometimes torrential rains in this exposed environment. The genius of desert plants and animals for locating and retaining water will amaze, baffle, and surprise you. For desert life, survival is an art.

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Creosote bush scrub habitat

Note: In this area alone, at first glance appearing vacant and void of life, I've personally spotted desert tortoise, coyotes, red-tailed hawks, ravens, antelope ground squirrels, jackrabbit, and quail.
Don't let the desert fool you, it's full of life.

More about: Wildlife Watching

ecology: wildlife - plants - geography: places - MAPS - map/sat - roads & trails: route 66 - old west - communities - weather - book store
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