Joshua Tree National Park- Its Photographic Possibilities


The park situated between two deserts, the Mojave and the Colorado can be a challenging but rewarding place to spend a day, photographing. It has so much to offer from the curious joshua trees, interesting rock formations, desert wildflowers, and wildlife.

Temperatures range from 104 deg. F at the peak of the summer to as low as 37 deg. F in the winter. Bring ample water when hiking during hot months and the necessary clothing for colder climes.

Places of Interest

Barker Dam

The Waters of Barker Dam
Photo 1.01 – Taken near the vicinity of Barker Dam. Taken with the Sony A7ii and SEL1635z lens at 16mm, ISO 100, F8, and 1/90s.

While the dam structure is interesting, I found the pond near its vicinity a more photogenic subject. Especially, the rock formation that leads from the foreground to the hill on the background (Photo 1.01). Additionally, the reflections on the still waters provided the scene with a calm quality. I decided that a vertical landscape would be best for shooting this scene. You may have the opportunity to encounter some wildlife  since the dam provides  water as well as refuge for them.

It was a lightly clouded day and the sun was high since it was shot at noon. To minimize the glare from the reflective water and bright rocks, I used a circular polarizer.

Since the sky is basically featureless except for some stray clouds, I decided to crop it out during post-processing.

Keys View

Sunset at Keys View
Photo 1.02 – Keys View is a popular site with visitors to watch sunsets. Taken with the Sony A7rii, and SEL1635z lens at 18mm, ISO 640, f8 and 1/500s.

If you want a panoramic view of the Coachella Valley, head on to Keys View, a perched lookout over a scenic spread of the valley below. From the vantage point of about 5,500 ft, you can see the Salton Sea, Santa Rosa Mountains, San Andreas Fault, Palm springs, San Jacinto Peak, Mt. San Jacinto State Park, San Gorgonio Pass and San Gorgonio Peak.

Wall Street Mill

Wall Street Mill
Photo 1.03- Wall Street Mine

This is a smaller mill but one of the more preserved ones. Named after the financial market by the two miners who struck gold nearby. To see the tools and machinery, the miners used to process gold ore. It’s worth a visit.

In close proximity to the mill is an abandoned old automobile (Photo 1.04), one of the more interesting photographic subjects in the park.

Joshua Tree National Park
Photo 1.04- The abandoned automobile by the Wall Street Mill

Desert Queen Mine

Desert Queen Mne Trail
Photo 1.05- A scene near the parking lot that lead to the Desert Queen Mine

The way to the Desert Queen Mine is one of the three trails that comprises Queen Valley. The other two being the Lucky Boy Vista and Pine City. The Desert Queen Mine Trail is a 1.2 mile hike that leads you to an overlook that gives you a nice view of the mine and a ravine.

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