Joshua Tree, CA

Mar 3rd, 2018 to Mar 11th, 2018
Cost: $850.00 Partner Organization(s): Joshua Tree National Park Service ( Service Type: Environmental Conservation Number of Participants: 10

Trip Logistics & Participant Requirements:

We will drive as a group to Arlington on Friday afternoon and spend the night at Katie’s house before catching an early flight from DC to Los Angeles on Saturday morning. We will spend the afternoon in LA, grabbing a burger at In-N-Out and hiking the Hollywood sign! We will rent a large van at the airport and drive 2.5 hours to Joshua Tree National Park, stopping along the way for groceries and camping gear. From Saturday night through Thursday we will be camping at a campground within the park (no showers–yippee!) Get ready for some bomb camp food…these two ladies are all about the food!! Friday morning we will wake up early, pack up camp, and head to the beach! San Diego’s La Jolla Shores is a short 3 hours away from the park. After a fun day at the beach, we will head to Katie’s “supa cool” Aunt & Uncle’s house where we will shower, BBQ, and spend the night. Saturday morning we will fly from San Diego to DC, and then drive back to Charlottesville.

Participants should have a love for the outdoors and be ready for a week of adventures, however no previous conservation or camping experience is required–just a positive attitude!


Service Activities:

We will spend five days dedicated to service (Sunday-Thursday). We will be working with Joshua Tree National Park on various projects throughout the week, revolving around environmental conservation. Possible projects for the week include measuring Joshua trees and other species sensitive to climate change, invasive plant control, and native plant revegetation. Past participants have enjoyed the service activities and found them extremely rewarding because of the opportunity to give back to the park and learn from the park rangers. The tasks we will complete during the week are important so that Joshua Tree can continue to be enjoyed by visitors for years and years to come. By the end of our trip, we will have a stronger understanding of the work that goes into maintaining a National Park, a heightened appreciation for the outdoors, and an overall changed perspective.


Regional Background:

The Joshua Tree area has been inhabited by humans for over 5,000 years. The first people to inhabit the area were of the Pinto Culture, followed by other hunter-gatherer groups. In the early 1800s, the land was used by cattlemen to drive their cows. Later, gold prospectors arrived to the area and Homesteaders began developing the region by the start of the 1900s. New roads in the late 1920s brought an influx of land developers and cactus poachers. Minerva Hoyt, a Pasadena resident, became concerned about the removal of cacti in Los Angeles. In 1936, her efforts to protect this area led to 825,000 acres being set aside as Joshua Tree National Monument. As part of the Desert Protection Bill, Joshua Tree National Monument was elevated to park status on October 31, 1994. Each group has left its unique mark on Joshua Tree, creating a landscape rich in cultural history and natural beauty. Throughout our week of service we will help protect these resources and gain a greater understanding and appreciation for the native culture and diverse history of the region.


Community Background:

The area of Joshua Tree National Park is home to three distinct ecosystems: the Colorado Desert, the Mojave Desert, and a strip of the Little San Bernardino Mountains. Each contains extremely different plant and animal life variety. The Joshua Trees, for which the park is named, grow mostly in the western part of the park.  The park is also home to incredible geological features such as canyons, plateaus, and rock formations. Because of the dark Southern California nights and limited light pollution in the area, Joshua Tree is well known for its star gazing opportunities and visitors can see the Milky Way on most nights.


Recreational Activities:

While the mornings and early afternoons of Sunday through Thursday will be dedicated to service, we will have plenty of time to explore the national park in our down time. With over 190 miles of trails to explore, we will have plenty to keep us busy. Options for our free time include hiking, a wildflower walk (we will be visiting during peak flower season!), a cactus garden tour, an outdoor sculpture museum, and visiting the San Bernardino National Forest. We will end each day with a campfire, s’mores (or other more creative campfire desserts), stargazing, and games/bonding!

In addition to these activities at the park, you can look forward to exploring Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon, hiking the Hollywood sign, and enjoying San Diego’s beaches at La Jolla Shores on Friday!


About the Site Leaders:

Katie is a 4th year Nursing student. Katie is involved with the UVA club triathlon team and spends her free time exploring Charlottesville’s restaurants and hiking in the Shenandoah. This is Katie’s third ASB trip. Previously, she was a participant on the Moab trip and, last year, she led the inaugural trip to Guadalupe. Katie has a thing for deserts and can’t wait to discover a new one this spring break with you! Speaking of “deserts,” Katie also has a thing for “desserts.” Katie and Emma’s mutual love for dark chocolate and Emma’s famous emergency stash is what brought these two site leaders together in first year dorms!


Emma Feinman is a fourth year in the Batten School of Public Policy. She is minoring in Leadership in the Comm School, and focused on Social Entrepreneurship. She loves to travel and explore new places. Her first ASB experience was two years ago to Xela, Guatemala (with no baseline knowledge of Spanish), followed by a trip to Point Reyes National Seashore last year. Emma’s adventurous can-do attitude combined with Katie’s camping expertise qualify them to be the ultimate dynamic duo (and to keep all participants alive while camping in the desert for a week). Katie and Emma lived on the same hall their first year and have been sharing foam rollers, granola, and adventurous outings ever since.