Saturday, January 29, 2011
usbackroads destination-Joshua Tree National Park
We visited another National Park today. As usual, as soon as Bugaboo saw the entrance station he growled and then resigned himself to sleeping in the back seat for the rest of the day. We did learn that even though dogs are banned on National Park trails you can walk them on dirt roads open to motorized traffic! So on dirt roads or campgrounds and of course on a six foot leash. Buggy says I would rather sleep.
The admission fee is $15. Free with the Senior or Access pass.
Well, there are National Parks that knock your socks off with scenic views and National Parks that were established for other reasons. Joshua Tree National Park is one of those established for other reasons. Originally established with Organ Pipes National Park (both were established as National Monuments in the 1930's).
As mentioned earlier many National Parks were established for economic developement reasons and pushed by the local communities and railroads (see A Short History of Boondocking). However, Joshua Tree National Monument (became a park in the 1990's) was established to preserve a park of the California desert for scientific reasons.
Here is the National Park Service history in the 1930's: "As a result of the growing scientific orientation developing in national park planning, Organ Pipe Cactus and Joshua Tree were "representative-area" national monuments, established to preserve representative portions of land containing unique desert flora. In the view of the agency, Organ Pipe Cactus and Joshua Tree were also "primarily of scientific rather than popular value," and capital development seemed pointless." This web link is worth reading if you are interested in public lands of the west: NPS National Monuments.
So if your looking for a National Park with "knock your socks off scenery" Joshua Tree National Park is not it. There are bigger Joshua Trees on BLM land. There is more spectacular scenery on BLM lands. However, the National Park Service does pick up the litter. One of the problems with deserts is that "bad looks awful" and tends to ruin the view. The Park Service gets rid of the litter and bad. The roads are nice with pull-outs and every once in awhile you get an interpretive sign.
The Park does have one outstanding view from Keys View. That is worth the drive for a view of the San Andreas fault and southern California.
However, Joshua Tree National Park has the same problem as most National Park Service managed land. The campgrounds are worthless. The Park Service manages 84 million acres of land yet cannot find enough room to put in a 55 foot campsite spur. So unless your driving your Prius and bringing a tent you will HAVE to find accomodations outside YOUR National Park! We cannot recommend any of the campgrounds in Joshua Tree longer than a 27 foot Class C.
Joshua Tree National Park is also famous for another reason. In 1973 Gram Parsons died and his friends tried to fulfill his wishes by cremating his body by burning his casket at Cap Rock. Gram Parsons started the country-rock movement with the Byrds album Sweethearts of the Rodeo. The albums with the Flying Burrito Brothers did not sell as well. It is a typical 1960's rock story and yes he did die at the age of 26 along with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and a passel of rock stars that also died at 26.
The Park Service is trying to remove ALL evidence of the EVENT. Now the funny thing is that Gram Parsons died in 1973. After 50 years, under federal law his death will become a "significant" historical event. Now there is now doubt that 12 years from now there will be a interpretive trail and brochures on Gram Parsons and his relationship to Joshua Tree National Park. Go now, before the bureaucrats get to "interpret" a significant event in rock history.
If you want to learn more about Gram Parsons prior to 2023 and the Park Service interpretation here is book on his life. At least, Emmy Lou Harris is still around to remind us you can still look and sound good in your sixties.
Here is the link to the Wilkipedia entry on Gram Parsons.
Here is a picture of the site were the casket was burned. The Park Service has sandblasted the rock posted, but some is just barely visible. There is a significant amount of charcoal, but I suspect it is from campfires since the event, However, it does raise the hair on your neck. In the sand, are the words RIP Gram Parsons.
For many in the baby boom generation Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers were their introduction too country music. It was a small step from country rock to straight country. In my case, I was already hooked on the harder stuff like Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, and Bob Wills. But as a Berkeley student I did enjoy the Burrito Brothers, Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airman among others. This was especially useful with those friends that could not handle the harder stuff like Merle.
I do look forward to returning to Joshua Tree in 2023 to see how the Park Service deals with this "historical" site.
Here is the link to the official Park Service website: Joshua Tree National Park.
Posted by Vladimir Steblina at 4:56 PM