Around 1.3 million visitors pass through California's Joshua Tree every year to experience the park's two deserts: The higher, cooler Mojave takes over the western end, and the lower and drier Colorado is covered in critters and various kinds of cacti. Even though the park was established as a national monument in 1936, it wasn't elevated to National Park status until 1994 by the Desert Protection Act, which also added more than 230,000 acres to the park. Today, it's a popular destination for hikers, stargazers, and campers who stay at one of Joshua Tree’s nine designated campgrounds.
Don't Miss: Cottonwood Spring Oasis is considered one of Joshua Tree's best kept secrets, and is about seven miles from the southern entrance to the park. During the gold rush, the spring was a frequent stop for miners passing through on their journey north and was the site of several gold processing mills.