12/13/2012 12:32 pm ET Updated Feb 12, 2013

5 Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park (PHOTOS)

During the winter months, the California desert becomes a cooler place to visit (literally), making it an ideal time to take a trip to Joshua Tree National Park. The roughly two and a half hour drive from Los Angeles positions Joshua Tree as the closest national park to L.A. Another thing that makes this park special is that it contains a meeting between the higher Mojave Desert and the lower Colorado Desert. This desert merger creates a diverse mixture of vegetation for visitors to enjoy, including the namesake Joshua trees. The amusing-looking Joshua trees are concentrated in the Mojave Desert on the west side of the park, so they are easy to reach for visitors traveling from Los Angeles. Joshua Tree National Park covers 1,250 square miles of rugged desert, and there are plenty of hiking trails in Joshua Tree. Get started by trekking up Ryan Mountain, a 5,457-foot summit at the center of it all.

5 Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park