Visit Joshua Tree Now

By Bilal Adamjee ‘24

Bilal in front of Joshua Tree with explanatory sign“Dude, this place looks like a scene from Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner” and “Bro, those rocks look like my MacBook wallpaper” were the first comments my friends blurted out when we finally arrived at Joshua Tree National Park. Oh, to be a Gen Z-er.

But seriously, during your time at Pomona College or Claremont in general, make the time to see Joshua Tree—you won’t regret it. Joshua Tree was my first trip out of Claremont with friends, and, while we did stay at an Airbnb outside the actual park, we made an effort to visit the park and marvel at its beauty. Despite the fact that only one tree is actually labeled ‘Joshua Tree’ on the main visitor’s trail, turns out all the trees there are in fact Joshua Trees(believe it or not, it took me a second to figure that out).

I cannot overstate just how amazing the road trip was through the park. Riding in my friend’s car, the bunch of us were exchanging songs on the radio, everything from Afro to Italian, Reggaeton to hip hop songs, gazing out at the vibrant Southern California landscapes. It was a liberating moment to me, on the road with friends, far from college and even farther from home, with nothing but each other and a will to make memories.

Bilal and friends posing with rocks and mountains in backgroundClimbing up the rocks and really digesting the horizon and the beautiful distant view of Palm Springs, you can really start to appreciate how important the Joshua Tree is as part of the Mojave Desert ecosystem. Did you know that they aren’t actually trees, but succulents that instead mimic a tree’s growth pattern? Or that the strong Mojave winds shape their bent and squiggly branches?They are essential for providing a habitat for various animals and keeping a delicate biodiversity in check.

Joshua Trees tell a story of survival and resilience through perseverance. Like the Lorax speaks for the trees, often the trees speak for us. As an interesting quote I heard recently puts it, “How could you not be hopeful if you’ve got a tree around?