Take a Look at Arizona’s Joshua Tree
If you Still Haven’t Found What You’re Looking For
When iconic Irish band U2 pondered names for their critically acclaimed fifth album, they sought inspiration from a plucky, if awkward-looking tree that somehow manages to flourish in the most adverse conditions in the Arizona desert. They adopted the common name of the Yucca brevifolia because it represented the faith and hope that life will prevail. That symbol was the Joshua Tree. While the particular Joshua Tree featured on that album cover is no longer in existence, a plaque has been erected so that it will be remembered immemorial.
Legend or Fact?
Bono and the boys were not the first to be inspired by the gnarled, grotesque fingers of the Joshua Tree groping toward the brilliantly painted desert skies. Perhaps one of the most prevailing legends on how the Joshua Tree came by its unique moniker comes from the story of a people prevailing on their own quest. The quest for Deseret, or their personal Promised Land.
There is a long-told tale of how a group of Mormon settlers pushed across the Mojave Desert in the mid-1800s. As they made their trek across the dry, barren landscape, they caught their first glimpses of the odd, scrubby trees. To the Mormons, the trees resembled prayerful hands, like bushy-faced, biblical Joshua offering pressed palms in supplication to God. This vivid image has given rise to the trees’ secondary nickname, the “praying tree.”
A Rose by Any Other Name…
Whether you call it a “Joshua Tree”, a “yucca palm”, or its Spanish moniker izote de desierto, the “desert dagger”, if you are considering your own quest to encounter the Arizona Joshua trees firsthand, there are many options. While California lays claim to the Joshua Tree National Forest, Arizona has dedicated a scenic stretch of roadway to the scrubby agave plants, aptly dubbed the Joshua Trees Parkway. The dedicated road extends under azure skies from Arizona to Las Vegas. The botanical oddities pop into view periodically at first, largely resembling the truffulas of Seussian whimsy or the baobabs of de Saint-Exupéry imagination. Grab a slice of Lucia’s Pie as you pass through the tiny town of Wikieup. Look for Big Sandy River near mile marker 127. Be forewarned, however, you’ll likely see more of the sand than the river. After you pass the tall, thin spires of the rocky, rust-colored hoodoos and near mile marker 169, the Joshua Trees become more plentiful making the drive worthwhile.
If “just driving through” isn’t your thing, you could always stop a spell and sleep under the stars in one of the many camping options available in the area. You can park your RV at one of the many RV parks in Kingman, Arizona such as the Zuni Village RV Park. A well-kept, centrally-located facility, the Zuni RV Park is only minutes from historic Route 66 where you can explore top attractions such as the Grand Canyon West Rim, the caverns, the Hoover Dam, or take a day trip to Las Vegas, Lake Havasu, or get “spooked” in the Chloride Ghost Town!
So, if you’re on your own quest for awe-inspiring sights and adventure and still haven’t found what you’re looking for, look no further than the Joshua Tree Forest and the scrubby little plant that could.
To stay at the Zuni Village RV Park, click here, or call 928-692-6202 for reservations.