Posted by: Brad Nixon | February 15, 2017

Joshua Tree National Park Valentine Greeting

How did you celebrate Valentine’s Day?

We spent the day in Joshua Tree National Park in the Mojave Desert of California.

Joshua Tree Brad Nixon 6058 (640x480)

The Counselor doesn’t want bouquets of roses. She wants something more adventurous.

There are other ways to enjoy beautiful growing things beyond what one finds at the florist. We’ve come to the park to hike, enjoy the dramatic landscape, wildlife and the flora, like this large example of the park’s namesake.

Joshua Tree Brad Nixon 6214 (640x511)

The Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia) isn’t a actually a tree. It’s a variety of Yucca, a member of the Agave family. We were a little early in the season, and they weren’t blooming yet.

Another plant that always catches the desert sunlight in an arresting way is the teddy bear cholla (Cylindropuntia bigelovii).

Joshua Tree Brad Nixon 6143 (640x480)

Beautiful by itself or in a tasteful arrangement.

Joshua Tree Brad Nixon 6168 (640x370)

There are several dozen types of cholla, including Cylindropuntia ramosissima, the pencil cholla. (Click on the grouped pictures to see them full size.)

There’s even a stark beauty to the sere remains of dead cholla stem.

Joshua Tree Brad Nixon 6091 (640x444)

Even closer to the ground, sometimes tucked almost unnoticed are a profusion of other cacti.

The variety of shapes, sizes and colors punctuate niches throughout the desert.

Like cholla, they’re also attractive in arrangements.

There’s beauty in form and texture, too, even with all color removed.

Joshua Tree Brad Nixon 6127 (640x615)

Located as they are in a National Park, these beauties have to be admired in situ, not excavated, potted and carted home. And, it means some climbing around to see them.

My Valentine seemed satisfied, there on the trail, eager to see what’s next.

Joshua Tree Brad Nixon 6090 (640x480)

I’ll have several more reports on the vast and fascinating Joshua Tree National Park.

© Brad Nixon 2017


  1. What a cool way to celebrate Valentines Day!

    We have a variety of succulents and cacti 🌵 sprinkled around our S. Cal. yard, including agaves. However, the agaves have remained rather stubborn over the years. They have steadfastly refused to turn into Joshua trees. A little disappointing; although the one large bouquet 💐 of agaves in the front yard quite nice. 😍


    • Edit please: is quite nice. 😀


  2. Great Valentine’s Day activity!


    • AND … the day prior to that, en route to the desert, we stopped to see the Carnegie Library in Beaumont California. Spent an hour with the library director. I’ll write about that coming up.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was wondering how I missed that one until you said you will write about it. LOL I will be looking forward to that post!


  3. Stunning captures. We are thinking of stopping there on our way to a wedding – driving from Phoenix to Santa Barbara.


    • Highly recommended. Bear in mind that there are TWO deserts: the lower Colorado Desert, and the Mojave, toward the NW, which is where the Joshua Trees are. The NPS site can help planning. Enjoy! I have some more accounts yet to post.

      Liked by 1 person

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