Surprise Showing: Joshua Tree August Wildflowers

No need to check the calendar; a typical spring sight makes a summer cameo.

IF ONLY... we carried calendars around with us, in our pockets, the kind that show the month and date and what time of year it happens to be. Oh wait, many of us do, and many of us may be taking a quick glance at our phones to see if the month we're in, the one that starts with the letter "A," happens to be April or August. For the recent flowering of wild petal-y plants at White Tank Campground in Joshua Tree National Park might lead one to believe that it is April, the traditional time of year for desert wildflowers. (Winter rains are to be thanked for the early-spring color show around California's most arid stretches.) But since summertime storms are more of a rarity -- much more, actually -- summer wildflowers are a strange spectacle. As with their springtime siblings, a summer flower in the desert can be a capricious thing, here today and gone tomorrow, but if you're making for Joshua Tree over the middle week of August, you might check in with a ranger or at the Visitor Center to see if any of that springtime, carpet-pretty goodness has lasted, thanks to those strong, freeway-testing July storms.

IF MAKING JOSHUA TREE... isn't on your August calendar (and we'll assume you know that, since you likely have a calendar in your pocket), there are good times to come in the Boulderiest Place in Golden State. (Not an official nickname, but if the national park wants to use it on bumper stickers, please be our guest.) One of those good times happens in the middle of October, from Oct. 8 through 11, when the Joshua Tree Music Festival returns for its sound-filled autumn outing. A Kidsville area, a Positive Vibration Station, yoga sessions, and more come-together community-izing is the name of the gratitude-filled, groove-laden game. Want your tickets sooner than later? Sooner, as they say, is now.

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