What To Do in Joshua Tree Nationwide Park

This visitor submit is by Monica Chapon, a California-based desert fanatic:

I’m a sucker for the desert. The dry warmth, the countless solar, and the prickly plants are all positives, in my ebook. For anybody who’s skeptical {that a} desert can really be enjoyable, I’ve the right location to vary your thoughts: Joshua Tree Nationwide Park.

Regardless of what number of occasions I go to, I at all times discover a new nook or cranny to discover.  This park is so distinctive that I believe each customer will discover one thing to understand!

The wild and confused-looking yuccas — generally known as Joshua Timber — have such persona, and the geology of the park is so in contrast to the encompassing areas.  This untamed stretch of land was designated a Nationwide Park in 1994, and it’s simple to see why.

From mountain climbing, to climbing, to pictures, to stargazing, Joshua Tree has one thing for you!  Right here is every little thing it’s worthwhile to know in an effort to plan your go to to Joshua Tree Nationwide Park in California:

Joshua Tree is located roughly 2.5 hours east from each Los Angeles and San Diego, and is a well-liked nature getaway from each cities.

The remoteness is a part of the draw, however that additionally implies that guests ought to plan forward. 

When To Go to

The desert landscape in Joshua Tree.

Whereas I can truthfully say that I’ve braved (and loved) park visits right here year-round, hands-down the perfect seasons to go to Joshua Tree are the spring and fall.

Spring (February – April): The milder temperatures are way more nice for mountain climbing and climbing within the springtime. Colourful wildflowers dot the panorama, making this the preferred season to go to Joshua Tree. Cacti and Joshua Timber exhibit their white and pink blossoms. Fiery crimson ocotillo flowers might be noticed towards the southern finish of the park. With temperatures hovering between a cushty 50 and 85 levels, guests flock right here.

Summer time (Might to September): The great thing about a summer season go to is that many individuals will keep away from the desert attributable to triple digit temperatures. Crowds can be skinny and there are extra daylight. The draw back is that summer season warmth in Joshua Tree might be harmful. Hikes and strenuous actions ought to all happen as early as attainable, and guests ought to come ready with ample water provide and sunscreen!

Fall (October – November): Fall is a well-liked time to go to. As soon as once more temperatures fall inside the snug 50 to 85 diploma vary. Campgrounds are inclined to promote out, significantly over the weekends, and parking on the trailheads turns into sparse. Do not forget that the daylight turn out to be shorter within the Fall, so plan your hikes properly.

Winter (December – January): The winter months can range fairly a bit, starting from 32 to 60 levels. Although uncommon, it does snow in Joshua Tree when the situations are proper. It’s a stupendous sight! On the opposite finish of the spectrum, some winter days might be sunny and heat. Winter continues to be a good time for the longer hikes – costume in layers to cowl all bases.

Exploring Joshua Tree National Park.

Entry Into Joshua Tree Nationwide Park

For those who don’t have already got the America The Stunning Annual Nationwide Park Cross, which I extremely advocate, you may have a number of cost choices for the park.

  • A 7-Day Cross: $30
  • An annual Cross for Joshua Tree Nationwide Park: $55
  • The America the Stunning Annual Nationwide Park Cross (for ALL Nationwide Parks within the USA): $80

Every of those passes might be bought at any entrance into Joshua Tree.

As you drive deeper into the park, you’ll begin to discover the altering landscapes.  Joshua Tree really holds two deserts inside the park boundaries; the Mojave Desert to the north and the Colorado Desert to the south.  

The large rocks in Joshua Tree National Park.

The northern part of the park is house to a number of the iconic views related to Joshua Tree Nationwide Park – the large bulbous rock piles, nearly all of the mountain climbing trails, and naturally the Joshua Tree itself.

The southern panorama is a little more sparse, that includes hotter temperatures, a great deal of cacti, and rugged purple mountains.  There are only a few Joshua Timber within the Colorado Desert part as a result of it isn’t the proper elevation for the species.

Although the northern half is extra common, I extremely advocate driving and mountain climbing in each areas, as they provide guests one thing fully totally different from each other! 

What To Do in Joshua Tree Nationwide Park


No go to to Joshua Tree can be full with out getting up shut and private with the natural world discovered right here. The distinctive feel and appear of this park is precisely why mountain climbing right here is so particular. For those who go to within the springtime, you’re prone to see colourful wildflower blooms on most of the trails, and even blooming cacti within the Colorado Desert.

Hiking in Joshua Tree National Park.

There are trails right here for each stage of adventurer, from simple to troublesome. Listed below are a number of of my favorites:

Arch Rock Nature Path: an Straightforward 1.2 mile out and again hike resulting in the long-lasting Arch Rock.  To hike to Arch Rock, guests need to park throughout the road within the designated car parking zone and cross over on the path, towards piles of huge rock groupings.  The path is properly marked and flat.  It is a very talked-about path so count on crowds!

The Cholla Cactus Backyard: a flat and Straightforward .5 mile loop.  This path is positioned within the Colorado Desert area, so folks usually skip this cease and decide to remain within the north.  Although it’s a really quick loop, I promise you it’s definitely worth the drive!  Photogenic chollas crop up out of nowhere and beautify the panorama.  Be cautious although – these cacti will stubbornly stick into garments and footwear (and pores and skin!) should you get too shut.

49 Palms Oasis Path: a Average 3.1 mile path traversing the rugged mountains.  This out and again hike options barrel cacti laying low on the mountains, sweeping views of the valley under, and an actual life oasis in the midst of the desert.  That is the one patch of shade on the whole hike so make sure to cease and relaxation right here earlier than turning again.

Hiking trails in Joshua Tree National Park.

Misplaced Horse Mine Loop: A Troublesome 6.8 mile loop hike named after an outdated mine inside the park.  Although you’ll move the precise mine, there isn’t all that a lot to see right here as it’s fenced off for security.  Nonetheless, for me the spotlight of this path are the plentiful Joshua Timber hikers get to see close-up.  If a 6.8 mile loop sounds too lengthy within the scorching desert solar, be at liberty to hike this as a shorter out and again.

Boy Scout Path To Willow Gap Prolonged Route: a Average 17.6 mile Out and Again backpacking path.  Notice that I don’t advocate this path throughout the summer season months!  Sort out this one in winter months solely.  It’s within the north part of the park and options some mini rock scrambles close to Willow Gap.  It’s a great route should you’re searching for an extended exercise.  Permit round 8 or 9 hours to finish this route.


joshua trees
A unbelievable star spot

Many individuals go to the park for a fast 24 hour time span.  If so for you, I promise that you may have a fun-filled and jam-packed someday itinerary in Joshua Tree.  Nonetheless, if you’ll be able to keep for a number of nights, strive tenting out within the desert!

The peace and solitude of sleeping within the desert is one thing that we don’t get sufficient of today!  And Joshua Tree specifically is a particular desert to spend an evening in. 

Designated an Worldwide Darkish Sky Park in 2017, the stargazing right here is unreal.  For the reason that park is positioned hours from Los Angeles and San Diego, the sunshine air pollution is saved to a minimal.  On clear nights, this is among the finest locations for stargazing on the planet!

Mornings within the desert are simply as peaceable.  You’ll awake to the rising solar, the sounds of small birds and critters within the distance, and with an unbeatable view when you unzip your tent.

With colourful desert sunsets, epic stargazing, and surreal landscapes seemingly from outer area, it’s actually a no brainer.  You’ve acquired to strive tenting right here.

There are over 300 campsites inside the park. Whereas that will sound like rather a lot, they’re unfold out throughout 9 campgrounds inside the 1235 sq. miles of park. 

The campsites are a mixture of Reservation Solely and First Come First Serve.  Notice that many campsites are closed in summer season months as a result of warmth. Examine your choices fastidiously earlier than you go.

Additionally, plan as early as attainable! The Reservation Solely websites sometimes promote out properly prematurely, significantly in Spring and Fall.  Reservations might be made as much as six months prematurely.

Campsites that settle for Reservations: Black Rock; Cottonwood; Indian Cove; Jumbo Rocks; Sheep Cross.

First Come, First Serve Campsites: Belle; Hidden Valley; Ryan; White Tank.

Professional Tip: For an epic dawn, camp at White Tank. The campsites are separated by the long-lasting large boulders of Joshua Tree, making it a semi-private and hanging space to camp.  Earlier than daybreak, you’ll be able to catch the ultimate .5 miles of the path resulting in Arch Rock (White Tank is straight on the mountain climbing route) and expertise the dawn at Arch Rock.

Campsite costs vary from $15-$25 per night time and supply various services. You could find all related reserving info right here.

Bouldering at Joshua Tree National Park.

Rock Climbing

Joshua Tree Nationwide Park has gained fairly the status for mountaineering.  The park gives over 8,000 documented climbing spots, with the bulk being bouldering and trad climbing places.  Although not as frequent, there are a number of sport climbing routes as properly. 

I’ve climbed in Joshua Tree earlier than, and my finest recommendation is to start out early!  The noon solar might be brutal.

For climbing info in addition to present mountaineering closures, click on right here.

Joshua Tree Nationwide Park Security

Deliver double the quantity of water you suppose you’ll want.  Park rangers advocate one gallon per particular person, per day (at the very least).  Put on correct mountain climbing footwear and costume in layers; the desert temperatures can fluctuate as much as 40 levels inside a 24 hour time span! 

There may be nowhere to purchase meals inside the park boundaries. Pack snacks, sandwiches, fruit, and so forth. earlier than you enterprise into the park.

You might be prone to catch sight of small desert critters like lizards and bees right here.  You might very properly see a scorpion or a rattlesnake when you’re out and about, so maintain your eyes on the paths.  They aren’t aggressive until provoked, so give them loads of area and also you’ll be superb.

There are even herds of massive horn sheep within the park who, whereas I haven’t seen them lately, wish to climb a number of the rocky crags alongside the roadway.

The Cholla Garden at Joshua Tree National Park.

Park your car solely in designated areas.  Many hikes have small tons and there are paved areas to drag over for good picture spots.  Driving off-road is forbidden inside the park.

Be careful for flash floods!  At all times examine the climate earlier than heading off on the longer hikes.  And, remember that cellular phone reception is weak and in some areas non-existent.  Obtain offline maps earlier than you enter or choose up a paper copy on the Guests Heart.

So long as you put together for the expertise, I promise that the desert is an superior escape.

Have I satisfied you but?!

With all of this info helpful, I’d say it’s time you go to the park and see for your self!  Take within the views, meet the Joshua Timber, snap some superior photographs, and hike or climb the day away.  Camp in a single day if time permits, after which do all of it once more the following day.

I’ve little question that Joshua Tree will show simply how unimaginable the desert local weather and panorama might be!

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In regards to the writer: Monica Chapon has traveled to six continents solo and chronicles her adventures on her weblog, This Uncommon Earth. She will normally be discovered exploring the deserts of the world, taking impromptu street journeys, or performing as an aerialist on silks. Comply with together with Monica’s adventures on Instagram.

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