There's much more life in the Mojave Desert than the human eye can immediately discern. Many animals are well camouflaged or nocturnal (or both), but if you tread lightly and keep your eyes open, the experience is rewarding. Wildlife includes the hopping kangaroo rat, ground squirrels, cottontails and jackrabbits, bobcats, coyotes, lizards, snakes, and the threatened desert tortoise. Consider yourself lucky to spot elusive bighorn sheep or shy mule deer. Migrating birds that stop off in the Mojave are met by permanent residents such as quail, pinyon jays, sparrows, noisy cactus wrens, and the distinctive roadrunner.
You'll see familiar desert plants such as the fragrant creosote bush, several varieties of cacti (including the deceptively fluffy-looking cholla, or "teddy bear"), and several strains of yucca. On and around Cima Dome grows the world's largest and densest Joshua tree forest. Botanists say that Cima's Joshuas are more symmetrical than their cousins elsewhere in the Mojave. The dramatic colors of the sky at sunset provide a breathtaking backdrop for Cima's Joshua trees, some more than 25 feet tall and over 100 years old.
Other desert flora include Mormon tea, cliff rose, desert sage, desert primrose, and cat's-claw; these flowering plants are among many that make the spring wildflower season a popular time to visit. Junipers, nut-bearing pinyon pines, and scrub oaks are found in the preserve's higher elevations.
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