I love reading Dr. Seuss books, with their silly word play and peculiar illustrations, to my two young children. So when my family and I visited Joshua Tree National Park, I was convinced the oddly shaped trees before us were Truffula trees right out of The Lorax.
The national park’s distinctive namesake trees, with outstretched limbs topped by tufts of spiky palm fronds, are just one attraction. Joshua Tree’s 792,623 protected acres are also home to 813 plant species, including 15 types of cacti alone. Then there’s the fauna: 46 reptile species, 57 mammal species, and more than 250 bird species.
Thanks to Pasadena socialite and passionate gardener Minerva Hamilton Hoyt, we can all enjoy this multifaceted, otherworldly landscape. Her efforts led to Joshua Tree’s designation as a National Monument in 1936 by President Franklin Roosevelt. In 1994, it was elevated to a national park status, and it now draws nearly 3 million visitors annually.