The Joshua Tree National Park is located in southeastern California. Declared a U.S. National Park in 1994 when the U.S. Congress passed the California Desert Protection Act, it had previously been a U.S. National Monument since 1936. It is named for the Joshua tree forests native to the park. It covers a land area of 790,636 acres (1,235.37 sq mi; 3,199.59 km2) – an area slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island. A large part of the park, some 429,690 acres (173,890 ha), is a designated wilderness area. Straddling the San Bernardino County/Riverside County border, the park includes parts of two deserts, each an acosystem whose characteristics are determined primarily by elevation: the higher Mojave Desert and lower Colorado Desert. The Little San Bernardino Mountains run through the southwest edge of the park.
There are several hiking trails within the park, many of which can be accessed from a campground. Shorter trails, such as the one mile hike through Hidden Valley, offer a chance to view the beauty of the park without straying too far into the desert. A section of the California Riding and Hiking Trail meanders for 35 miles through the western side of the park. The lookout point at Keys View, towards the south of the park, offers views of the Coachella Valley and Salton Sea.