This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

One of America’s most prized landscapes has suffered severe damage, and it could be centuries before Joshua Tree National Park looks like itself.

During the 35-day partial government shutdown — the longest in US history — the nearly 800,000-acre park sustained significant damage that can’t be easily fixed. Upon surveying the aftermath, former Joshua Tree National Park superintendent Curt Sauer said the destruction from human abuse “is irreparable for the next 200 to 300 years.”

A once vibrant Joshua Tree has been severed in half in an act of vandalism in Joshua Tree National Park on January 8, 2019 in Joshua Tree, California. The park may temporarily close on Thursday because of the government shutdown. (Photo by Gina Ferazzi/Los AngelesTimes via Getty Images)
Trees were vandalized in Joshua Tree National Park during the shutdown. (Photo by Gina Ferazzi/Los AngelesTimes via Getty Images)

Sauer specifically cited, “incidents of new roads being created by motorists and the destruction of Joshua trees” — the park’s iconic, namesake yucca palms.

The vandalism occurred when there was only a skeleton staff on hand to oversee the throngs of visitors. Most of the park rangers were furloughed. Joshua Tree remained opened but understaffed, and with few rangers around to patrol, the park fell victim to vandals.

According to reports, “some visitors drove their vehicles off roads, graffitied rocks, started illegal campfires and cut down some of the famed trees that lend the park its name.”

On Jan. 2, the park had to close all campgrounds because of overflowing human waste and off-leash dogs, in addition to the aforementioned issues.

Landing at ONT should provide plenty of open road in Southern California (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)
A glimpse inside Joshua Tree National Park (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)

Volunteers helped remove heaps of litter and repaired broken fences, but for the Joshua trees, there’s no quick fix.

Joshua trees grow between half an inch and three inches per year, and typically do not produce blossoms until they reach five to 10 feet in height.

The park, which reopened on Monday, may be once again welcoming paying campers. But the rocky, desert landscape with its cartoonish trees still has a long road to recovery.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter here!

Know before you go.

News and deals straight to your inbox every day.

2018 TPG Award Winner: Mid-Tier Card of the Year
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.