Friday, February 22, 2008

The Blooming Desert, Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California

A carpet of Lupines, Blue Chia and Mojave Poppies! Sand Verbena carpeting the desert at Amboy Crater off Route 66

We left Mesa on Thursday and headed west on I 10 towards southern California, in search of the desert in bloom. We had heard and read that there was a full bloom going on in Joshua Tree National Park and up towards Mojave Desert, so we decided to swing thru that area before we head up to Laughlin. There were many slopes painted yellow in the desertscapes between Phoenix and Blyte, CA.

We stopped for the night in Desert Center, CA at a sweet campground; Lake Tamarisk Golf & Country Club. Well, Desert Center is the appropriate name for this "town", as it is at least 40 miles in either direction to anything, and there is nothing in Desert Center except desert and this campground, and I do mean nothing! It's a good thing we did not need fuel, food or groceries, because there was none to be had! The folks that winter in the CG drive east to Blythe (50 miles) or west to Joshua Tree or Indio (40 miles) to get supplies. But it was a lovely desert oasis in the truest sense of the word. A pretty lake and golf course and great campground area, with desert all around. We didn't hear any coyotes but I know they were out there somewhere!

We continued west on I 10 Friday morning, and were delighted to see Arizona blue Lupines all along the sides of the road and in the desert! We entered Joshua Tree National Park at the Cottonwood Road entrance, and the desert was aflame with color...purple, white and yellow everywhere, Lupines, Blue Chias, Primrose, Brittlebrush and more were covering the ground like a glorious carpet!

I've never seen such a beautiful sight and just couldn't believe how abundant and beautiful the flowers were!

One of my favorites were the Desert Bluebells. Such a brilliant, vivid blue and their little faces seemed to smile up at you!

At one point, there was a little rain shower and a few minutes later a rainbow developed over the mountains. In the photo you can faintly see the rainbow in front of the mountains and can see the desert flowers blooming in the lower left foreground. It was a magnificient site!
Can you see the rainbow near the top and the lupines in the front lower left?

We continued on to Amboy and drove thru Sheeps Hole pass in search of the blooming Sand Verbena. We found the most vivid displays at the base of the Amboy Crater.
Beautiful pink Sand Verbena

Amboy Crater was formed of ash and cinders and is in one of the youngest volcanic fields in the US. It straddles the Mojave and Sonoran deserts and was last active about 10,000 years ago. It's located on the old Route 66 about 1 hour from Barstow or 30 minutes from Ludlow (basically in the middle of nowhere also!). The Amboy volcanic crater

We are grateful to have seen this very pretty sight, the Desert in Bloom, which I have waited to see for many years! The winter rains allowed the desert to put on quite a show this year, and it's not over yet. It only gets better as spring brings warmer temps into the higher elevations. Wish we could be here to see more, but sure am glad we go to see the pretty sights we saw today!

To learn more about the Desert in Bloom, try this link:
and click on the Desert Wildfower Reports for Southern California.


Paula said...

Hey guys. Thanks for the desert USA link. We were trying to decide what to do today and now we know. Search for the bloomin blooms.
Tom & Paula

Dinos said...

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Louise said...

Great photos! Looks like you found the motherlode of desert flowers. We saw a few, but not nearly as nice as what you captured.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by and introduce yourselves. We really enjoyed meeting you. Y'all seem like fun, interesting folks, unlike some of our stalkers, um, I mean regular readers :-)

I'll definitely be following your blog now.

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