Today’s blog is inspired by last week’s #TRLT discussion on Twitter about Deserts and Dry Places.

We used to write off deserts and dry places as wasted space. But within the past couple of years we’ve learned to appreciate the diversity of geology, biology and general atmosphere that deserts offer.

Deserts are full of hidden surprises. They teach us about patience and careful observation. They teach us to take it slow. We witness plant and wildlife that have adapted to their environment to make the best of it. As travelers how do we adapt to our ever-changing environment? Can we persevere when the chips are down?

First off we are joining in celebrating Grand Canyon National Park’s 100th birthday today. It became the 15th National Park on February 26th in 1919 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill into law. It provides one of our favorite desert views, and we enjoy going there whenever we pass through Arizona. Hot tip: If you are short on time and want to save some wear and tear on your vehicle; take the train from Winslow up to the park, then spend the day hiking around and enjoy the train ride back. We have camped there and spent our 25th wedding anniversary there. One day, to challenge ourselves, we’d like to make it to the canyon floor, spend a night or two and hike back up.

Last year we discovered Joshua Tree National Park. All these years we have traveled across I-40 and had no idea that such a remarkable place existed. Now we won’t pass by without at least driving through if we can. Yesterday we hiked the Discovery, Split Rock and Skull Rock trails and marveled at the rock formations. On the way there we got out of the RV to gawk at the flora and fauna that give Joshua Tree an otherworldly feel. (Video in the works but here are a few photos.)

Last year we also discovered Goldfield, a reconstructed mining town in the Arizona desert. And we had so much fun exploring during the day that we decided to spend the night at the campground so we could have the town to ourselves after dark.

Petroglyph National Monument (near Albuquerque) and Petrified Forest are two of our other favorite desert destinations. Both exhibit an amazing record that living things have left in stone — in one case by past cultures deliberately leaving enigmatic messages on rocks, and the other by plants actually turning into stone.

Don’t overlook the desert as a travel destination. If you think there is nothing there you will be in for an eye-opening experience.

Pumpkin Rock in Norco, CA
Pumpkin Rock, Norco, CA

Join us @activatedAdven1 and other Traveling Tweeters every Tuesday for #TRLT at 1:00 pm and #TTOT at 4:30 pm ET on Twitter. Find The Road Less Traveled on Facebook for a sneak peek at upcoming themes and questions. The group Travel Talk on Twitter also posts themes and questions ahead of time Facebook.