Joshua Tree Natural National Landmark - Mike Carr

Discovering Joshua Tree Natural National Landmark

Everybody is chasing something. It may not look like it to the outside observer, but we are all after something. Sometimes we may not even know what it is we’re chasing but we’re still looking.

Since moving to southern Utah a couple years ago, I’ve been chasing after unique landscapes. I’ve been trying to capture the beauty in nature—the way I see it.

This pursuit has taken me to more than a few interesting places. One day it took me out into the empty desert west of St. George to a place called Joshua Tree Natural National Landmark.

The trees here are the northernmost grove of Joshua trees in the country. The landscape is so bleak and empty that these trees are the only thing to offer you company out there. They felt like statues to me, each one having its own personality and strange, twisted posture—like victims of Medusa turned to trees instead of stone.

Most people are familiar with the term “golden hour” by now, but if you’re still in the dark on that saying, it’s simply referring to the first and last hour of sunlight each day. Generally the lighting is softer and has a golden quality to it, thus the name. I don’t make myself go out during this prime window of light enough. But, thankfully, on my trip out to the Joshua trees, I did break that pattern. I couldn’t imagine not having experienced this unique place any other way. It added another layer to the mystic feeling these statues already had.

It felt great to weave my way between cluster after cluster of twisted Joshua trees looking for just one more interesting angle. And then it happened. The sky split open and splashed its colors all across the horizon. I flipped exposure settings and just let the shutter fly with an unending stream of clicks. It’s times like these that I feel like I can’t take too many shots, even if 95% of them are basically the exact same shot.

There’s a lot of beautiful places to chase down in this world, and I’m glad that my appetite led me to Joshua Tree Landmark. It was well worth the 45 minute drive. The best part for me is that the hunt isn’t over. I know I’ve still got plenty of incredible views to find a shoot.