The Joshua Tree Southern Railroad Museum and Narrow Gauge Railroad===== All Aboard…..

In the Mojave Desert, on the south side of Joshua Tree, just a half-mile or so from the main road that leads to the Joshua Tree National Park, tucked away in a canyon, almost hidden from the one million plus visitors that drive by every year sits a very interesting, inconspicuous place. It is the Joshua Tree Southern Railroad Museum and Narrow Gauge Railroad.  Miles away from any existing or historical railroad sits a railroad museum in Joshua Tree – which makes it quite unusual.  Over the years I’ve seen some of these trains sitting against the mountain and often wondered how they got there. When I got the chance to go on a field trip with the Morongo Basin Historical Society, I jumped on it.  It was a beautiful Saturday warm winter’s morning in February, in the mid 60’s and we all met up at the Rail Road Depot.  Inside was a vast assortment of railroad memorabilia. This museum has a different kind of charm than most, it is run and maintained by many volunteers without any large financial backing.  Everything you see looks old, feels old and smells old. In other words, it is not a fancy schmancy museum where every piece is restored to its original condition, it has original pieces in their elderly condition.  The museum and railroad are maintained by the few volunteers that give their time and love to keep this place running.

The Railroad Depot/Museum
The Railroad Depot/Museum


We were told that this all started in 1969 on 330 acres in Joshua Tree that was supposed to be developed into homes. The homes fell through due to complications so the land was used for the railroad instead.  It was first started by only a few people but today they have over 110 members.  People with 15″ gauge and 7/1/2″ gauge come from all over the world, bringing their own trains to ride the 1.7 miles of tracks in the Mojave Desert.  Similar to off-road vehicle enthusiasts bringing their off-road vehicles out to the desert to ride, these enthusiasts need rails to ride.  Train hobbyists bring their trains to this site to take them out for a spin in the beautiful Mojave Desert.  My first realization that this was a hobby when I was younger, was seeing pictures of Walt Disney riding his train at his Holmby Hills home near Los Angeles before he built Disneyland.

Walt Disney Entertaining Guests In His Back Yard
Walt Disney Entertaining Guests In His Back Yard


There are even more people today that take part in this hobby than in the days of Walt Disney.  There were no narrow gauge trains running the day we were there but that fact made me want to come back.  Before we started the tour, we were told the story about how this place has become what it is.  To get the full sized railroad cars up on the hill they had to be hauled by road.  I was told that it took three semi cabs hooked together to get some of them up there.  We were told that they used a big crane to get the wheels on the track.

Picture From JTRR Website
Picture From JTRR Website


After we left the museum we had a tour of the property.  With only 20 acres being used and 330 available I realized that this project might span many lifetimes.  Among all of the tracks of 15″ gauge and 7 1/2″ gauge rail was also a G-Scale model railway.  Many people build these at their homes; some have them inside and others outside, thus the nickname “garden railway”.  We saw the full sized railroad cars and got to see the insides of a few.  We also saw the campsites for those bringing their trains up to the Railroad Museum, they can camp for the weekend, run and ride on their trains. This is the Glamis of train enthusiasts.

The Garden Railway
The Garden Railway


The rest of the tour pretty much speaks for itself in the pictures, please enjoy them and read the captions.  I have also included a picture from their website of a herd of Bighorn Sheep spotted on the ridge above the compound recently.

They are not open on any regular schedule. If you want to know about their scheduled events, or if you want a tour, or to book a wedding you must call first. Contact Terry Watson at (760) 366-8879 or check out their:

Website at:

Blog Site at:

Map to Museum

Take It Easy – Mojave





George Washington’s Nephew in the Mojave Desert?

Imagine trying to make a name for yourself when your uncle is referred to as the Father of our Country.  Colonel Henry Washington did a pretty good job of making a name for himself and also for naming many places in California. I guess you could call him the father of our County, actually many counties in the State of California for that matter.

In the early 1850’s Colonel Washington was paid to survey many areas of the Country including Florida, Colorado and California.  The history of this baseline dates back over 160 years to November 1852. At that time, Colonel Henry Washington was the deputy surveyor under contract with the U.S. Surveyor General of California.  He was given the task of establishing an Initial Point of all future surveys, where the baseline and meridian would intersect at a highly visible point in Southern California.

USA Baselines
USA Baselines

The general location of that Initial Point had already been established just the year before and after a four-day hike into the mountains from San Bernardino through very rough territory.  Washington and his team of 12 assistant surveyors established the Initial Point at a location approximately a half-mile west of Mt. San Bernardino at an elevation of 10,300 feet.  This was not the highest point in Southern California but it allowed anyone in the San Bernardino Valley a view of the point.  Washington erected a monument on the site of his Initial Point that still stands atop San Bernardino Mountain to this day.

Washingtons Survey Monument in 1852
Washingtons Survey Monument in 1852
Washingtons Survey Monument Today
Washingtons Survey Monument Today











Little did Colonel Washington know that his monument would become the point of beginning of every piece of private and public property owned by over 25 million inhabitants of Southern California.

Baselines of the Southwest
Baselines of the Southwest

Washington also traveled north to Death Valley, and south through Temecula to the Mexican border; he noted “Indian Villages” in the vicinity of Temecula.  He was paid to survey the Coachella Valley and during this survey he is credited with naming Cathedral City in 1855.  During a survey of the Colorado Desert, he reportedly stood in Cathedral Canyon and said the rock formations looked like a European cathedral – the name stuck.

When one travels through the heart of San Bernardino today, one of the main streets that you might see is Baseline Avenue. This street is actually on the baseline set by Colonel Washington.  This street exists west of the meridian line but if you go east of the meridian line you travel through the mountains and down into the Mojave Desert.  Colonel Washington was one of the first non-native people to record his visit across the Mojave Desert.

Baseline Street
Baseline Street

Today as you follow the baseline to the east you travel through downtown Yucca Valley, then as 29 Palms Highway curves north the baseline follows Yucca Trail, which then turns into Alta Loma Drive in Joshua Tree.  At the termination of Alta Loma Drive there is a mountain of boulders with a canyon headed south.  While on his survey of the baseline in 1855, Washington noted this canyon, and at that time he also noted this huge rock mountain.  He mentioned petroglyphs on the rocks and the hole at the end of the canyon dug by coyotes to reach shallow water, thus he named the canyon, “Coyote Hole Springs”.  There is also an ancient Native American “work circle” in the area, you will find it if you explore the area thoroughly.

Mountain of Boulders on the Baseline in Joshua Tree Looking East
Mountain of Boulders on the Baseline in Joshua Tree Looking East
Coyote Hole Springs
Coyote Hole Springs
Native American Work Circle
Native American Work Circle

After this point he went around the rock mountain and proceeded to survey the baseline east to 29 Palms and beyond.  Eventually he found an oasis with Native Americans living amongst the palm trees, thus he named it Twentynine Palms (we will use the term 29 Palms in this blog).

29 Palms Mural of Henry Washington
29 Palms Mural of Henry Washington. In this 17 by 80-foot rendering, Chemehuevi Indians gather and work in and near the water, a woman offers the exquisite baskets for which the tribe was known and first surveyor Colonel Henry Washington in 1855 is depicted. This mural was painted by Ron Croci of Honolulu and Robert Caughlan III.

The community of 29 Palms has many murals and one of its many murals commemorates the visit of Colonel Washington; it is officially known as Mural #2.  29 Palms was known as the Oasis of Mara by the natives. The life-giving springs of the Oasis of Mara supported Native Americans and early settlers, and its famous fan palms were the source of the 29 Palms name.  The year after Colonel Washington’s visit a deputy surveyor reported that “near the springs the land has the appearance of having been cultivated by the Indians”.  He counted 26 palm trees at that time but the name “Twentynine Palms” was already recorded.  He further stated “there are Indian huts in section thirty-three, the Indians use the leaf of the palm tree for making baskets, hats, etc.  Around the springs there is a growth of cane of which the Indians make arrows for their bows.”

In 1855 Colonel Henry Washington headed north with his survey and came through the then unnamed Johnson Valley.  Near the west end of the valley he found two elderly Indian women alone at a spring, thus Colonel Washington appropriately named it Old Woman Springs, and the name was recorded for all to ponder.  The two Indian women may have been left there to watch young children; the rest were probably in the nearby mountains gathering pinon nuts and hunting, as hunter-gatherers were known to do.

Old Woman Springs
Old Woman Springs

For more information on Old Woman Springs check out this blog from last year:


I was surprised how difficult it was to find personal information on Colonel Washington’s life but I did find a website that was helpful in finding old surveys:


I was also able to obtain a sample of Colonel Washington’s field notes from the San Bernardino County Surveyors Office and I downloaded some maps from the above website. I inserted them on Google Earth and the land features lined up really well.  I will post many of these maps and notes below for you to enjoy.

Take It Easy – Mojave



UPDATE 9/28/2014: Gram Theft Burrito or Gram Theft Byrd – You Decide?

UPDATE 9/28/2014

This particular blog about Gram Parsons has been interesting to say the least, intended to only be one story has now turned into three.  After I first wrote the first leg of this story about a year later I got the crime-scene-photo from a friend, then I updated this blog with the pixelated picture only to remove it later at the family’s request.  We found the exact same rock that was in the 1973 crime-scene photo in 2014, then somehow I ended up in contact with Phil Kaufman and had plans to meet him and give him a copy of the photo which my friend Brad was to give to him.  Tonight I had that meeting and I was thrilled to have met him but also moved by what I saw.

Mr. Kaufman was in touch with my friend Brad , after waiting all day for the call he called, he had arrived and was staying at the Joshua Tree Inn, the same place Gram had died over 40 years ago.  We were to have a change of plans, on the phone Phil said to meet him at Pappy and Harriet’s in Pioneertown instead of the Joshua Tree Inn, I was hoping to get pictures at the Inn so I was a bit disappointed but in the end what transpired was much more thought provoking.

We got to Pappy’s, Hank Williams III was performing that night and he was doing his sound check.  All of us, my wife Kerry, Brad and his wife Deb and I looking and waiting wondering if we would recognize him.  I walked around then there he was, when I saw his shirt with many name on the back of recording artists like Emmylou Harris I figured it was him. Wearing shorts I could see his iconic rooster tattoo on his leg, this was my verification that it was him.  I said Phil, he turned around and said “yes”, then quickly said “well only if you’re not a cop”.  He was graceful and kind and generous with his time. He sat at the table with us outside and we talked just like old friends.  Brad presented Phil with the photos of the crime scene and I could see Phil looking at it, I could almost imagine how those 40+ years ago must have felt like yesterday, I felt bad for him but I also know that he must be proud that he followed through with his friends wish, from all my research I came to the conclusion that this is what Gram would have wanted.  Gram did not want the normal funeral, he stated that, Gram always strived to be immortal in the sense of being famous and Phil helped him with his wishes.

The Hi-Desert has grown a lot, much of which was caused by stories like this, also many movies were filmed here and also being only 2 hours from Hollywood it became a quick getaway, all of these stories being a thread in the history of the area. Tonight Pappy and Harriet’s was booming all because of people like Phil.  One of the originators of the fame of our area, one of the oldest threads was sitting at Pappy and Harriet’s and no one recognized him, chatting with us gracefully, Hank Williams III playing in the background, young “hipsters” from the Los Angeles area wandering around, listening to Hank and none of them knew the importance of this man to Pappy’s, other local businesses and the culture of the area.  Countless Gram Festivals have been held here, a local home grown band, a favorite of this area is Gram Rabbit, in part named after Parsons.  I found it quite ironic.

Mr. Kaufman, you look great for being 79 years old, thanks for signing my book, I look forward to meeting you again and thank you for your kindness.  I think Gram would be proud of his buddy fulfilling his wish.  Gram’s fame will live forever thanks to his music and thanks to you, but not just Gram, you and Gram will live forever through local legend and lore.

Looking at Photo
Looking at Photo
Phil and I
Phil and I
Phil Kaufman "Road Mangler Deluxe"
Phil Kaufman “Road Mangler Deluxe”



Out of the blue a friend of mine told me that he had a old police photograph of the Gram Parsons crime scene in the Joshua Tree National Park from the day of the incident.  He soon emailed me a scanned copy of the 1973 photo which seems to be authentic and I have no reason to doubt.  We will not be showing you the crime scene photo out of respect for the family.

In Mr. Kaufman’s own words from his book “We looked up and the flame had caused a dust devil going up in the air. His ashes were actually going up into the air, into the desert night. The moon was shining, the stars were shining and Gram’s wish was coming true. His ashes were going into the desert”.  Mr. Kaufman also stated that even though they used to visit Joshua Tree National Monument (now a National Park) regularly, he was drunk when he did this and he just pulled off to a wide spot in the road, a place to turn around, so this spot, “Cap Rock” was chosen only by coincidence.

After looking at the photograph I saw the rather unique rock sat right next to the burnt casket and body.  I called my buddy and we set out to find this one rock, only about a half-hour from our homes.  From 1973 to 2014 much has changed in the area, roads have been widened and paved, areas that you could drive your car close to “Cap Rock” have been blocked and previously paved areas have been abandoned and gone back to nature.  We still wanted to try to find it, after searching the area for quite a while we had a few suspect rocks but none were an exact match until we started walking back to the car.  I saw a rock that had the distinctive right angles, we walked over expecting it to be similar but not exact just as the other rocks we had seen.  We rolled it over my buddy saw it first, all the notches in the rock in the photograph were on this rock exactly.  WE FOUND IT!

We could not find the other two rocks but I will now leave you to examine the evidence, we just happened to find the rock by chance and I do believe it was moved from the original location by a few hundred feet or even yards due to changes in the area and construction.  I will not reveal the location of this rock but I do ask that if anyone else finds this rock please leave it in place, it is a Federal Crime to remove anything from our National Parks, please leave it for others to ponder in the future.

Take It Easy – Mojave

This is the Rock from the site in 2014 and 1973
This is the Rock from the site in 2014 and 1973

The Strange Tale of Gram Parson’s Funeral in Joshua Tree

Gram Parsons was considered a pioneer of the country rock movement of the late 1960’s into the 1970’s until his death on September 19, 1973 at the age of 26.  Though Gram achieved some success in his lifetime, he was never a superstar — but he did influence many bands including The Eagles and The Rolling Stones.  He was a member of two country rock bands, The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers; he later became a solo artist, and often performed with Emmylou Harris. In the years after his death he has become a legend.  You may ask, why is this a DesertUSA blog and what does Gram Parsons have to do with the Mojave Desert?  Keep reading to find out a small part of the interesting life story of a Byrd and a Burrito named Gram Parsons and how it is related to the Mojave Desert.

In the late 1960’s, the Joshua Tree National Monument, later to become a National Park, became the hangout for many celebrities and musicians because this out of the way haven was only a few hours drive from Los Angeles.  Gram Parsons was introduced to the Mojave Desert around this time and would frequent the Joshua Tree area on the weekends, often accompanied by his road manager, Phil Kaufman, and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones; in-fact, some of Gram’s country influence can be heard in music of The Rolling Stones at that time, in the early 1970’s.  Gram loved the Hi-Desert and did many photo shoots in it. He used to hang out at local bars and would often stay at the Joshua Tree Inn.  He would visit the National Monument at night looking at the stars and searching the heavens for UFOs.

During a friend’s funeral in 1973, a few months before Parsons’ own death, it was discussed between Parsons and Kaufman that if either of them were to die prematurely, they wanted their body taken to the desert at Joshua Tree. They were to have one last drink with the corpse and then burn the body in the desert.  This was the pact that led to the events I will now describe.

A few months after this pact had been discussed Gram checked into room 8 at the Joshua Tree Inn on September 17th, 1973 for a couple days with a few friends.  During this visit Gram consumed alot of drugs and alcohol. Kaufman was not there on this trip, and  after two days of heavy partying, on the 19th Gram overdosed on both morphine and alcohol.  As Kaufman was Parsons’ road manager and good friend, he was immediately called but by the time he got to the Inn, Gram’s body was already removed and was in the morgue of the hospital in Yucca Valley.  Kaufman gathered up Gram’s belongings, cleaned up any drug evidence and headed back home to Los Angeles.  After a day of drinking and thinking about their pact and remembering Gram’s dislike for his step-father in Louisiana and also thinking of his words at the friend’s funeral a few months earlier that he had not wanted a long, depressing, religious service with family and friends, Kaufman went into action.

Kaufman called the mortuary in Yucca Valley and found out that the body would be driven to the Los Angeles International Airport and then flown on Continental Airlines to New Orleans.  He called the airline’s mortuary service and found out that the body would arrive that evening, then recruited several friends that knew about the pact and borrowed a hearse that was used for camping trips. It had no license plates and several broken windows, but he thought that it would do.  They tried on suits, but decided they looked so ridiculous that they changed into their tour clothes, Levi’s, cowboy boots, cowboy hats, and jackets with “Sin City” stitched on the back.  They loaded the hearse up with beer and Jack Daniels and headed for the airport.

Kaufman and his friend Michael Martin arrived at the loading dock just as a flatbed truck rolled up with the Parsons casket.  A drunken Kaufman somehow persuaded an airline employee that the Parsons family had changed its plans and wanted to ship the body privately on a chartered flight.  While Kaufman was in the office signing the paperwork with a phony name a policeman pulled up blocking the hangar door.  Seeing this Kaufman was sure that he would be caught but the officer suspected nothing, he just sat there.  Kaufman walked over toward him and waved his copies of the paperwork and said, “hey, can you move that car”?  The officer apologized and moved the car and then actually helped him load the casket onto a gurney and into the back of the unlicensed, liquor filled hearse.  Martin got in the hearse and attempted to drive out of the hangar only to run into the wall on his way out.  The officer observed all this, and commented, “I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes now”, then he left.  The two drunk body snatchers left the airport with the body of their friend; they stopped at a gas station in Cabazon near the Interstate 10 dinosaurs in the years before Casino Morongo existed.  They filled a gas can and they headed back to Joshua Tree with the body of Gram Parsons.

They reached Joshua Tree and drove until they were too drunk to drive any farther.  They stopped at Cap Rock in The Joshua Tree National Monument, a landmark geological formation, and unloaded their friend’s coffin, then Kaufman saw car lights in the distance and concluded the police were coming.  He quickly opened the casket, played a personal joke on the dead Parsons that they used to do to each other in life, doused Gram with the gasoline and threw a match in the casket.  The two watched as a giant fireball rose from the coffin, the skin on Grams naked body began blistering, the ashes rising into the desert night.  As the headlights in the distance got closer the pair quickly drove off and headed for home in Los Angeles.

After a trip home filled with close calls, Kaufman and Martin laid low.  The morning after their return, the newspapers were full of the story of the rock star’s hijacked and burnt corpse, speculating that the amateur cremation may have been a satanic ritual.

Kaufman knew the police were looking for him, so after a few weeks, he and Martin just turned themselves in. They appeared in Court on Parsons’ 27th birthday, November 5, 1973.  At the time there was no law against stealing a corpse and since a corpse has no intrinsic value, the two were charged with misdemeanor theft for stealing the coffin and given a slap on the wrist, $708 in damages for the coffin, and a $300 fine for each of the body snatchers.  A few years after the incident, Kaufman ran into Keith Richards and Keith thanked him and said “I heard that you took care of our pal”.  Kaufman’s adventure has been legendary in rock and country music circles ever since.

Over the years there have been books, movies and many discussions of this incident that began in Joshua Tree, continued in Los Angeles and ended up back in Joshua Tree.  There are yearly concerts and have been many tribute albums to Gram Parsons.  People visit and intentionally stay in room 8 at the Joshua Tree Inn, even holding seances in the room.  The cremation area at Cap Rock in Joshua Tree National Park still has people visit the spot but being a National Park all personal monuments to Gram are removed by the Park, so the site always looks different as fans make pilgrimages, leave items, paint on the boulders to leave some kind of remembrance, then they are removed by the Park and the cycle begins again.  What became of Gram’s famous rhinestone studded Nudie suit?  It resides in the country music hall of fame in Nashville Tennessee.  I suppose you can say that Gram became larger than life after his young life ended as happens to many musicians that die at a young age.

Now you know the story of the theft of a Burrito and the theft of a Byrd that are actually one and the same, about the theft of Gram Parsons in 1973.

Take It Easy – Mojave



I Love the U2 Album “The Joshua Tree”, Do U2? Let’s Trek Across The Mojave And Find Out About Their “Harmony”

This blog, The Mojo on the Mojave is about things that are located or happening in the Mojave Desert, part of this story lies outside the Mojave’s reaches but we will touch on the entire bus trip that the Irish rock band U2 took before they released the album that was destined to be called “The Joshua Tree”, we will mainly focus on the portions of that trip that lie within the Mojave Desert.

Let’s start with what we know for sure, in 1987 U2 released an album called “The Joshua Tree”, before the album was released they traveled from Reno to Joshua Tree with a few stops in between to take pictures.  Later they would return to film videos in Los Angeles and Las Vegas after the album was released.

They well knew of the story of Gram Parsons and how he died, his body was stolen and burned, all centered in the Mojave Desert, link: .  The band U2 were aware of  the mythology of the Mojave Desert, this is part of the reason they used it as a backdrop to their album.  According to the designer of the album sleeve, Steve Averill, the band rented a coach in Reno, Nevada, at the time the cover was shot, The Joshua Tree album was tentatively titled “The Two Americas” with another alternate name being “The Desert”, the band wanted to capture the part of the United States where “nature and industrialization meet”.

Steve says the end photos for The Joshua Tree were the result of a “happy accident”, we had stopped and shot at a ghost town in Nevada (actually Bodie, California), and their photographer, Anton Corbijn wanted to shoot at Joshua Tree National Monument (now a National Park) next.  After the Bodie shoot they drove toward Joshua Tree National Monument, along the way they stopped at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley National Monument (also a National Park today) and shot the cover photograph, then on Highway 190 just outside Death Valley they saw a lone Joshua Tree in the distance, it was then that the band began thinking of The Joshua Tree as a possible name for the album.  They got out of the coach there and then and shot the inside sleeve photograph, all in all they were there about 20 minutes in the early morning cold weather.   This famous session with the Joshua Tree became the back cover and the inside sleeve of the album which was released on March 9, 1987.

A friend and myself decided to drive to find this elusive tree that actually fell down from natural causes in the year 2000, we found the fallen tree on July 3rd, 2014.  We assumed that it would be hot and we knew it was about a three hour drive without any big stops.  Joshua Trees only grow at higher elevations because they need below freezing winters to reproduce so we knew it would be not quite as hot as the lower reaches of the desert.  We found the spot to stop on the road near the infamous tree rather quickly, at about 4700 feet above sea level the site was quite a bit cooler than nearby Death Valley, our temperature was only about 100 degrees.  I decided to try my new 4wd vehicle and we went down some fairly sandy washes, in the end we walked about 3/4 of a mile to find this iconic monument to an Irish rock band in the middle of the Mojave Desert.  After being at the site for about 15 minutes and taking pictures we walked the 3500 feet back to the car.  I would recommend parking on the main road and walking 1300 feet to the site, its much easier than driving off road, the wash was very soft and parking on the paved road is a relatively short walk and if you are a true fan of U2 this is the way that the band traversed to the tree from their rented coach.

Back to 1987, I believe that it was later that same day that they ended up at The Harmony Motel in 29 Palms for another photo shoot and stayed in the Motel for at least a night.  While at the Motel it is rumored that they rented all of the rooms at the Harmony Motel but room #4 was rented as a group meeting place to congregate.  If you visit the Motel ask for Ash the owner, she knows alot about the U2 stay back then, she is the current owner but she has contact with the person that owned it in 1987.

On a side note, my buddy that helped me find “The Joshua Tree” fallen in the desert is recently retired from United Parcel Service.  He actually delivered packages to the Harmony Motel one of the days that they stayed there, when he made his delivery the owner at that time told him they were there in the Motel, so finding the fallen tree was kind of like coming full circle.

The Bodie, Zabriskie Point, Joshua Tree and Harmony Motel photographs were used to promote the band forevermore at concerts and on their memorabilia.

Anyone can visit these places if you know where to look:

Bodie is a state park in California, here is the link:

Zabriskie Point is in Death Valley National Park, here is the link:

The iconic Joshua Tree is on Highway 190 at coordinates:  36°19’51.00″N, 117°44’42.88″W

The Harmony Motel is in 29 Palms, it is rumored that they rented the entire motel but the gathering place where they all met was in Room #4, here is the link:

On a side note another Irish band called Snow Patrol also stayed at the Harmony Motel in 2010, following in the footsteps of their Irish brethren.

On our way home we visited the ghost town of Darwin, we also stopped in Lone Pine and drove up Whitney Portal Road to get a closer look at Mount Whitney.  We then visited the Lone Pine Movie History Museum and learned alot about the movies that were made in this area including one of my favorites, “Tremors”.

Please be careful if you make this journey, summer is hot and winter is cold but you can always end your long day at the Harmony Motel just like U2 did.

Take It Easy – Mojave


Read more about U2’s Joshua Tree


Non-Native (and a few native) Mojave Desert Flora

It is spring time in the Mojave Desert and  it is time to plant trees and bushes.  In my almost 40 years living in the upper reaches of the Mojave Desert above 3500 feet, I have tried to plant many things.  The biggest obstacle to my success of my non-native vegetation was planting a tree or plant that can not withstand the cold winter temperatures of the Hi-Desert.  Here are a few of my attempts that I will share with you that seem to be a success.  I am using the “common name” on most of these, the names that I know from my experience with these plants.  Most of these pictures were taken in my yard with a few exceptions so I could show larger specimens or show the plant in bloom.  If you desire do a Google search on any of these and you can find their fancy-schmancy botanical names.

Click on each picture to get a closer view, take a look and enjoy:

Aleppo Pine

Aleppo Pine, this is down the road from my house, these are easy to grow.



Mondell PineMondell Pine

Mondel Pine, two examples from my property, these are easy to grow.



Italian Cypress1

Italian Cypress.



Red Barrel Cactus

Red Barrel Cactus, this is easy to grow.




Creosote Bush, on my property on the left and a nearby example on the right, this bush is very difficult to transplant but smells wonderful when wet.



Nolina YuccaNolina Yucca1

Nolina Yucca.




Liquidambar, on my property on the left and a on-line example on the right.



Modesto AshModesto Ash 1

Modesto Ash, on my property on the left and a on-line example on the right, very easy to grow.



Arizona Ash

Arizona Ash.



Incense CedarIncesse Cedar

Incense Cedar, on my property on the left and in the winter on the right, very easy to grow.



Coast RedwoodCoast Redwood

Coast Redwood, easy to grow.



Giant Sequoia

Giant Sequoia, I have had only two successes with this tree, it is supposed to grow in all zones but seems sensitive until established.




Cottonwood, this tree requires lots of water, do not plant unless you can support its water habit.



Japanese Black Pine

Japanese Black Pine.



Washington Fan PalmWashington Palm

Washington Fan Palm, easy to grow, requires weekly water but can freeze until it is established.



desert willowdesert willow 2

Desert Willow, two on-line examples, mine are not blooming yet, easy tree to grow and transplant.




Crape Myrtle, easy to grow but only blooms if water is available on a regular basis.



Weeping Willow

Weeping Willow, do not plant unless you can support its water habit.



White Ironbark Eucalyptus

White Iron Bark Eucalyptus, easy to grow and does not need much water after it is established.



Red River Gum Eucalyptus

Red River Gum Eucalyptus, easy to grow and does not need much water after it is established.



Grape Vine

Grape Vine, easy to grow but requires moderate water.



Desert Eucalyptus

Desert Gum Eucalyptus, easy to grow and does not need much water after it is established, this tree can freeze.



Silver Dollar Eucalyptus

Silver Dollar Eucalyptus, easy to grow and does not need much water after it is established.



Tree of Heaven

Tree of Heaven, easy to grow and needs little water after it is established but is a tree that produces many offspring around the yard, re-seeds easily and can become a weed tree and a nuisance.




Fruitless Mulberry, both are mine and old, there are many bigger and better examples in the Mojave.



Robe Locust

Black Locust (Robe Locust), Lots of roots and suckers but easy to grow.



Golden LocustGolden Locust

Golden Locust, both plants are labeled the same but some are more golden than others and in my opinion the less golden they are the higher they grow but the gold color is beautiful.




Mesquite, on my property on the left and a nearby example on the right.



Palo VerdePalo Verde

Palo Verde, on my property on the left and a nearby example on the right.




Olive Tree in a nearby parking lot.




Arborvitae, on my property on the left and a on-line example on the right.



Japanese Honeysuckle and Regular

Honeysuckles, Japanese and Common.



texas sage1texas sage

Texas Sage, two on-line examples, mine are not blooming yet.



Flowering PlumFlowering Plum and Spartan Juniper_10_2

Flowering Plum and Spartan Juniper, plum blooms on shown on insert photo.



California Poppy

California Poppy.



Ocotillo and Misc. CactusOcotillo

Ocotillo, there are much bigger examples but both of these are mine.



Cedrus Deodora

Cedrus Deodora (California Cedar).



Italian Stone Pine

Italian Stone Pine.



Old Man CactusOld Man Cactus

Old Man Cactus.



Single Leaf Pinion PineSingle Leaf Pinion Pine

Single Leaf Pinon Pine, on my property on the left and a nearby example on the right.



Red Yucca

Red Yucca.




Mexican Manzanita, on my property on the left and a nearby example on the right.




Finally just a shot of some natural vegetation, Beavertail Cactus in bloom in the foreground, Cholla Cactus in the middle and California Juniper in the back.


Take It Easy – Mojave