Joshua Tree National Park has exploded in popularity: why?Posted: October 11, 2019 Filed under: America Since 1945, joshua tree 2 Comments
This chart was an attempt to test my thesis, that Instagram played a role in the dramatic rise in visits to Joshua Tree National Park.
I also incorporated a challenge to my thesis, offered by a colleague who suggested the answer might have something to do with the popular Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Drivers to that festival from Los Angeles would have to pass signs for Joshua Tree NP and experience the intoxicating desert landscape.
What about the AirBNB factor?:
Was stunned to be reminded about how recently Instagram (2010) and AirBNB (2007) were founded. These companies changed the world very, very fast. We still haven’t had time to contemplate what these changes mean, both to communities and to human brains.
How does a fragile patch of desert ecosystem handle two million extra human visitors a year? You might think they’d increase the park’s budget. It appears the opposite is happening?
(Any time I look into a fact like this, so much appreciation for our nation’s journalists, looking into the files, tracking it all down.)
There’s rarely a single cause for things, but I feel confident in saying Instagram, or maybe more broadly, the instant sharing of powerful photographs on phones, played a role in the dramatic rise in popularity of Joshua Tree national park.
What might be other factors? Commercial photography and car commercial stuff may have boomed out in Joshua Tree and joshua tree-populated areas. I don’t know how you’d measure that data, but I feel it.
Credit to the wonderful movie Ingrid Goes West here, a movie about Joshua Tree and Instagram and California fantasy in general, which makes the same connection between the desert landscape and Instagram.
My studies suggest no burst in popularity connected to the U2 album “The Joshua Tree.”
This growth occurs in the context of a worldwide explosion in tourism triggered by the emergence of a giant affluent middle class in China and other formerly-less-developed countries. Hopefully things will settle down once everyone has been everywhere — and gotten annoyed that everyone else was there, too.