Up­grades planned for Joshua Tree park

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - News -

TWEN­TY­NINE PALMS (AP) — A re­vamped en­trance and vis­i­tor cen­ters are in the works to help ease crowds af­ter a surge in tourism to South­ern Cal­i­for­nia’s Joshua Tree Na­tional Park.

An­nual at­ten­dance has nearly dou­bled in the past five years, lead­ing to hour-long waits to en­ter the park 140 miles east of Los An­ge­les and crammed park­ing lots, The Desert Sun re­ported Satur­day.

The Park Ser­vice has plans to de­mol­ish a fee booth and con­struct a new one with ad­di­tional en­try and exit lanes and au­to­mated fee pay sta­tions. That project is ex­pected to be com­pleted by 2022.

There are also plans for new vis­i­tors’ cen­ters to ac­com­mo­date larger crowds. A 5,000-square-foot vis­i­tor cen­ter in Twen­ty­nine Palms — which will re­place an ex­ist­ing 600-square­foot space — will in­clude ed­u­ca­tional ex­hibits and an out­door stage for com­mu­nity events.

On the other side of the park, the Park Ser­vice will re­place a trailer that serves as a cen­ter for vis­i­tor in­for­ma­tion with a new build­ing with space for sales and ex­hibits. Of­fi­cials also have plans to re­design a park camp­ground fol­low­ing an in­crease in tent camp­ing there.

“We need to keep these places pre­served for­ever, as they are, but al­low for their en­joy­ment to­day,” said David Smith, the park’s su­per­in­ten­dent. “It’s a con­stant bat­tle for any man­ager to fig­ure out where you are on that spec­trum.”

As­so­ci­ated Press files

Two vis­i­tors ride their bikes along the road at Joshua Tree Na­tional Park in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia’s Mo­jave Desert. The park will soon have a re­vamped en­trance and vis­i­tor cen­ters to help ease crowds.

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