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Joshua Tree National Park seeing surge in popularity

Posted at 9:55 AM, Feb 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-28 12:55:37-05

Joshua Tree National Park is seeing an explosion in popularity.

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The vast park where the Mojave and Colorado deserts meet in Southern California had more than 2.8 million visitors in 2017.

The Press-Enterprise of Riverside says that's an increase of nearly 340,000 from 2016 and double the approximately 1.4 million who came as recently as 2013.

Park spokesman George Land says reasons for the surge included a substantial wildflower bloom, an unusually warm period from Thanksgiving through New Year's, and growing popularity among foreign tourists.

Land says Joshua Tree used to be a fall-through-spring park, but international visitors now make it a year-round destination.

Popularity, however, has brought problems ranging from traffic jams to crowded eateries in nearby towns.

Joshua Tree encompasses more than 1,230 square miles.