A Slice of History at Joshua Tree National Park

Home / Articles / A Slice of History at Joshua Tree National Park

There are few U.S. national parks as recognizable as Joshua Tree National Park located at the intersection of the Mojave and Colorado deserts, where rare plants, 46 reptiles, 57 mammal and 251 bird species call home.  This park also features historically significant sites and structures that help tell the story of this area. 

Visitors to Joshua Tree are met with loads of options for whatever adventure they seek.  World-class rock climbing, hiking, backpacking, biking, photography, wildlife watching, camping and ranger led activities are available to all.

Enjoy the many layers of intrigue in the unique landscape of this California gem

Another interesting attraction within the park is Keys Ranch.  Long before this area was designated as a national park, rugged individuals worked to settle in this Mojave desert ecosystem. The ranger-guided tour of the ranch includes the colorful story of the 60 years Bill and Frances spent working together to make a life and raise their five children in this remote location.  

Visit the ranch house, school room, store, workshop, and more treasures from the time the Keys called this area home. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, the property is located in a remote, rocky canyon in Joshua Tree National Park.

Keys Ranch tours last 90 minutes and involves about a half-mile of walking. Tours are offered Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, year-round except for the hottest summer months (June, July and August). Reservations are available up to 60 days in advance and until the day before the tour.


Desert big horn sheep perched on rocks at twilight

Joshua Tree National Park (Koustubh Kulkarni, Share the Experience)

This diverse and distinctive ecosystem teems with life, history and culture. There is so much to do, explore and learn and park staff offer a variety of programs to share their knowledge and passion about this special destination.  Please plan ahead before traveling and identify the sights you want to see and locations you want to visit.  Learn about the best time of year to enjoy the experience you are seeking. Check out the visitor centers, planned activities and campgrounds to help maximize your visit to the park.

Explore Related Trips

Bring Home a Story