The desert DOES have water; and there are enough rains to support all kinds of vegetation. The early settlers figured out that if they dammed up the larger washes, they could hold enough water to support cattle or farming. This large tree is a live oak, which is a rare thing to find in a desert. It grows where it is because it gets enough water in the wash. As you hike downstream from the live oak, you come to the first little tank, which looked to be about the size of a backyard swimming pool, but only a few feet deep.
As we continued the hike downstream, Don noticed this little arch.
About a quarter mile below Live Oak Tank (which I forgot to photograph) we came to Ivanpah Tank. It had a dam that was much larger - perhaps 30 feet wide and about 10 feet high on this side. On the downstream side it was about 15 feet high. So the body of water that backed up behind it would have been probably 40 yards wide and up to 10 feet deep at its deepest. We saw evidence that it had held water recently - the datura plants were in abundance and there were some small damp mud flats.
One thing you can see in this photo is something we could never escape - the contrails of all the airplanes flying overhead to and from Los Angeles, Ontario, and San Diego.
Thanks for the reports on Joshua tree NP. We've passed it many times but haven't had occasion to stop until this past week. Your reports were at least partially responsible for our stopping there. We enjoyed our stays at Jumbo Rocks CG and at the BLM overflow area just outside the South entrance. We will have to return again next year for more exploration because there is so much to see.
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