RIVERSIDE COUNTY, CA — Human remains have been found at Joshua Tree National Park in California, the National Park Service announced Saturday.
Park authorities were alerted to the possible presence of remains Thursday morning by a cooperating agency that said it may have found evidence of human remains while examining pictures taken at the park last summer.
Park law enforcement rangers hiked to the spot Friday, where they found human skeletal remains and personal items that seemed to have been there for some time, the park said in a news release. Authorities didn't find any form of personal identification at the scene.
The remains were found in a remote part of the 49 Palms Oasis area of the park.
While there is a trail running through the region, authorities said the remains were found in a steep, rocky area away from any trails.
An investigation led by the National Park Service and the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department is ongoing. The park service said Saturday the identity of the person and cause of death have yet to be determined, but there doesn't seem to have been any foul play involved.
Joshua Tree contains two desert ecosystems -- the Colorado and Mojave Deserts -- within its vast park system, leaving it with scarce water resources, infrequent rainfall and climatic extremes.
In the 49 Palms Oasis region last year, the park reported five helicopter rescues and eight carryouts, mostly due to medical conditions like asthma or heart trouble.
Because of the difficulty of the climate and terrain, the park service encourages hikers to evaluate their fitness before embarking through the 49 Palms area and to carry more water than they think they will need.
Park officials also advise hikers to always let someone know when they are planning to hike and when they plan to return.