It's summer and the desert is getting hot, which means fewer people are looking for places to sleep in the Mojave Desert without air conditioning. And as a result, the National Park Service has announced its annual summer closure of a number of campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park.
As of Tuesday, May 27, NPS has closed the park's Belle, Ryan, and White Tank campgrounds, though the outhouses at White Tank will remain available for visitors. NPS has also closed portions of the Cottonwood, Black Rock, and Indian Cove campgrounds. The popular Jumbo Rocks and Hidden Valley campgrounds remain fully open.
The closures, which will last through Columbus Day unless demand picks up, are intended not only to conserve on staff time and expense maintaining the campgrounds but also to allow the park's plants, animals, and soil a bit of a break from the tourists.
In addition to the campground closures, the park will also be closing the Black Rock Nature Center until October. Not only will that reduce wear and tear on the facilities, it may well do the same for visitors' cars as well: after years of neglect by the town of Yucca Valley, the road into Black Rock is increasingly an axle-busting nightmare. Here's hoping someone will make it safe to drive before Columbus Day.