Joshua tree national park how many days


The Best Day Trip to Joshua Tree National Park Itinerary

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Joshua Tree National Park is a desert oasis, climber’s paradise, and a photographer’s dream, all in one! This national park attracts everyone, from astrophotographers to adventure junkies.

A day trip to Joshua Tree is the perfect way to explore California’s desert landscape.

The national park sits at the convergence of two deserts, the Mojave and Colorado. This ecosystem has unique geology and plentiful opportunities to spot wildlife.

Joshua Tree National Park has so much to offer. It’s easy to navigate, allowing you to see the major highlights in a single day. Joshua Tree is the perfect weekend trip from major cities like Los Angeles or Las Vegas.

Read on for all the details on a perfect day trip to Joshua Tree National Park.

Are you looking for more ideas for your trip to Joshua Tree? Don’t miss this post on the best Joshua Tree sunrise spots!

This post may contain affiliate links, where I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Read more in this disclosure policy.

Joshua Tree At-A-Glance

Before diving in, here are a few highlights to help you plan your trip:

  • Best Time to Visit: Late Fall to Early Spring is the best time to go to Joshua Tree thanks to cooler temperatures, great for hiking and camping. But these more mild temperatures bring plenty of crowds – be sure to book your trip in advance!
  • Where to Stay: If you’re looking to stay in the park, your only option is camping. I recommend booking a spot at Jumbo Rocks Campground. Just outside the park in Twentynine Palms or Yucca Valley, there are plenty of Airbnbs and hotels near the park.
  • How to Get There: The closest airports are in Los Angeles, San Diego, or Las Vegas, all about 2.5-3.5 hours away. Use Skyscanner to browse flights and find the best price.
  • How to Get Around: The easiest way to get around Joshua Tree is in your own car. Use Rentalcars.com to browse deals on rental cars or rent an RV or campervan with Outdoorsy.
  • Don’t Forget: Be sure to get an America the Beautiful National Park Pass ahead of time. This $80 pass is valid for 12 months and get you into all 400+ national park sites (including Joshua Tree!).

All About Visiting Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is most known for its namesake Joshua Trees. These prickly trees are cousins of the agave, most often found in the Mojave Desert.

Joshua Trees can live well over 150 years, particularly in protected areas like the national park.

But the park has more to see than just Joshua Trees. Amongst the densely packed trees, you’ll find giant, lava-formed rocks, gathered and stacked high above the ground.

These unique rock formations draw climbers from all over the world.

If you want to escape to the city and spot desert-native wildlife, a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park is for you!

Entrance Fees

You have several different options for getting into Joshua Tree National Park:

  • Weekly Joshua Tree National Park Pass: $30
  • Annual Joshua Tree National Park Pass: $55
  • Annual America the Beautiful National Park Pass: $80

I highly recommend opting for the annual America the Beautiful national park pass. It gets you into every national park, plus national forests and historic sites. To break even, you only need to visit 2 to 3 national parks each year!

While there isn’t an option to buy only a day pass for your day trip to Joshua Tree, the national park service does offer several free entrance days each year:

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Day (3rd Monday in January)
  • First Day of National Park Week (3rd Saturday of April)
  • Great American Outdoors Act Signing Day (August 4)
  • National Park Service Birthday (August 25)
  • National Public Lands Day (4th Saturday in September)
  • Veterans Day (November 11)

Are you visiting multiple national parks in the next year? The America the Beautiful National Park Pass gets you into 400+ national park sites, including all 63 national parks, for 12 months!

Get your national park pass ahead of time for only $80.

Joshua Tree by the Numbers

  • Area: 1,238 square miles (it’s the 15th biggest national park!)
  • Annual Joshua Tree Visitors: Over 3 million people visited Joshua Tree in 2021 (it’s the 10th most popular park!)
  • Most Popular Months to Visit: November, December, March, April
  • Average Daily Visitors in Peak Months: ~10,000-15,000
  • Least Popular Months to Visit: July to September
  • Average Daily Visitors in Slow Months: ~4,000-5,000
  • Average Summer Temperatures: High 99 / Low 73
  • Average Winter Temperatures: High 63 / Low 38

Important Tips for Your Joshua Tree Day Trip Itinerary

  • Stay safe in the desert. Bring plenty of water and sun protection any time you are in the park. Be sure you have at least 2-3 liters of water per person before setting out for a hike. Don’t forget sunscreen and a hat, even in chillier winter months.
  • Book campgrounds early. Popular campgrounds, like Jumbo Rocks, will book out early from October to April. Make a reservation 6 months out when reservations open up.
  • Buy a national park pass. The America the Beautiful national park pass gets you into all the USA national parks, plus tons more federal lands! And all for only $80 per year. You can buy your pass at the national park when you arrive or purchase online a few months before your trip (allow plenty of time for the pass to be mailed to you!). The pass covers everyone in the vehicle, as long as you are there to present your pass and a valid photo ID.
  • Don’t miss these sunrise spots. The Joshua Trees and Cholla cactuses come alive in the golden morning light. Don’t miss seeing the park in the soft light – it looks so different than it does at midday!
  • Always check the national park website before visiting. The park regularly publishes closures, including visitor centers, campgrounds, and hiking trails. Check the site before heading into the park to get the latest information. You can find important alerts right on the Joshua Tree National Park home page.

Best Time to Visit Joshua Tree National Park

Unlike many national parks, Joshua Tree is the least busy in the Summer, due to extreme heat. In the Summer, temperatures often exceed 100 degrees.

Most visitors choose to explore the park from October to April when temperatures are cooler during the day.

I recommend visiting in late Fall or early Spring when temperatures stay between 40 and 70 degrees.

If you choose to camp in Joshua Tree in the winter, bring warm layers, as overnight temperatures will be near freezing from December to February.

How to Get to Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is under 3 hours from Los Angeles, San Diego, and Las Vegas, making it an easy weekend escape. Or the perfect add-on to a Southern California road trip!

If you’re flying to Joshua Tree National Park, you can choose to fly into several airports, like Palm Springs, Las Vegas, or Los Angeles. I like to use Skyscanner to check for cheap flights to different airports.

Once you find your flight, plan to rent a car at the airport. Joshua Tree National Park has a few different off-roading scenic drives. If that interests you, be sure to rent an AWD vehicle. If not, opt for a less expensive sedan instead.

Read More: 19 Best National Parks Near Las Vegas

Will you be driving to Joshua Tree instead? Check out these distances from nearby major cities:

  • Los Angeles: 2.5 hours
  • San Diego: 3 hours
  • Las Vegas: 3 hours
  • Phoenix: 4.5 hours

I use Skyscanner to find the best flight prices and compare routes. Once you find your flight, Skyscanner redirects you to book with the airline directly, so you don’t miss out on frequent flyer points! Search flights on Skyscanner now.

If you need a rental car, I recommend using Rentalcars.com to find the best deals. It allows you to search across major retailers like Avis, Hertz, Enterprise, Budget, and more. Search rental car prices with Rentalcars.com now.

How to Get Around While Visiting Joshua Tree

Unlike other national parks, Joshua Tree does not have a park shuttle. To get around the park, you’ll need your own vehicle.

All the main park roads are paved, so if you don’t plan to do any off-roading, you don’t need an all-wheel-drive vehicle.

In peak season, parking at Joshua Tree can be difficult. To avoid crowds and find parking with ease, plan to start your day early before 9 am.

Where to Stay: Joshua Tree National Park

Unlike many national parks, Joshua Tree is surrounded by a populated area. The towns of Joshua Tree, Yucca Valley, and Twentynine Palms are just outside the park limits. Check out these places to stay in Joshua Tree.

Camping in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree is known for its campgrounds. The most popular campground in the park is Jumbo Rocks. As you might guess from the name, the campground sits in the shadow of massive, lava-formed boulders.

Many climbers choose to camp here for its proximity to the boulders.

In the slow season from May to September, most of the park’s campgrounds are first-come, first-served. During peak season, from October to April, reservations are required for the park’s most popular campgrounds.

These campgrounds are reservable through Recreation.Gov:

  • Black Rock
  • Cottonwood
  • Indian Cove
  • Jumbo Rocks

These sites, particularly Jumbo Rocks, will fill up early, so I recommend booking 6 months out.

If in-park campgrounds are full when you arrive, consider camping outside the park on Bureau of Land Management land. I recommend using freecampsites.net to locate dispersed camping spots near the park.

Are you planning a national park trip but don’t know where to start? Get my free 28-page national park ebook where I break down everything you need to know to visit all 63 USA national parks.

Download your free ebook here.

Airbnbs Near Joshua Tree National Park

The sprawling desert landscape around the park has allowed for many residential developments. Any of the surrounding towns have plenty of Airbnbs, at relatively low prices!

You’ll find anything from glamping sites to large, poolside estates.

I choose to stay in a beautifully decorated, mid-century-style Airbnb. And let me tell you, there was nothing more relaxing than the porch swing after an early day of hiking.

While you may have a more luxurious experience staying outside the park, it will mean early wake-up calls. It takes about an hour to drive into the heart of Joshua Tree National Park from the surrounding towns.

There are also several hotels and motels nearby. Click here to find a hotel near Joshua Tree National Park.

Sunset at Keys View

What to Pack for Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is an arid desert environment. Desert hikes require more preparation than other landscapes. Be prepared for your trip to the Joshua Trees by carrying all the essentials to keep yourself safe!

  • America the Beautiful National Park Pass. This national park pass grants you access to all the USA national parks, plus many other federal lands, for only $80 a year. This pass covers you and everyone in your vehicle! To compare, the entry fee to only Joshua Tree National Park is $30.
  • Water, tons of water. Dry desert environments require you to bring double the amount of water you normally would. While some places in the park have water bottle refill stations, I recommend bringing at least 5 gallons of water. We kept a large water jug in the back of the car for emergencies. When hiking in dry, hot environments you will dehydrate faster. Plan to bring at least 2-3 liters of water with you on every hike, even if you aren’t straying far from the car.
  • Sun Protection. Even in cooler Winter months, the UV index is high and the park is unshaded. Protect your skin and your eyes with a sun hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen (reapply every few hours!).
  • 10 Hiking Essentials. Don’t get caught out on the trail without proper supplies. While this itinerary only covers short day hikes, it’s important to be prepared. I’ve had to use my first aid kit on a trail only a mile from my car. Be prepared with a first aid kit and wilderness survival tools. Check out my detailed post on the 10 Hiking Essentials for more information.
  • Snacks and Lunch. Joshua Tree National Park has no dining options within the park. Prepare for your long day of exploring by packing lunch and plenty of snacks ahead of time. I like to pack things that don’t need refrigeration, like PB&J, protein bars, trail mix, and beef jerky.
  • Extra Layers. The key to comfort in Joshua Tree is layers. Even in the hot Summer months, mornings and evenings in Joshua Tree National Park can be chilly. Always keep extra layers, like a fleece pullover or merino wool zip up, in the car. If you are visiting in the Winter, be sure to pack a warm hat, gloves, and a down jacket for after sundown.
  • Headlamp. Getting those perfect sunrise photos means getting to the park in the dark. Hike safely with a headlamp. You’ll keep your hands free and avoid trampling vegetation and wildlife along the path.
  • Offline Maps. I always recommend downloading the area’s map offline in the Google Maps app ahead of time. This will ensure you’re able to navigate around the park without cell service (which won’t be available within the park). For offline hiking maps, I recommend AllTrails Pro. But that said, it’s still a good idea to pick up a park map at the entrance station or visitor center.

Looking for more tips on what to pack for your trip? Check out my guides on the best hiking gear, what to pack for a road trip, and essential camping gear for all my favorite gear picks and tips to make packing for your trip a breeze!

One Day Joshua Tree Itinerary

I know, I know, that was a lot of information. But now we’ve arrived: here’s the perfect itinerary to explore the highlights of Joshua Tree National Park in one day.

Start Your Day at Cholla Cactus Garden

If you do one thing in Joshua Tree National Park, this should be it. Cholla Cactus Garden is one of the best Joshua Tree sunrise spots! As the sun creeps over the horizon, the garden illuminates and glows as the cacti catch the morning sun.

Drive straight through the park to the Cholla Cactus Garden. As you drive through the dark, keep a watch for wildlife. We saw multiple coyotes and a giant owl sitting on the road at 4 am.

Walk along the ¼ mile dirt trail to photograph the glowing cactus. Plan to arrive at least 45 minutes early to capture the light from dawn through the morning golden hour.

Read More: 5 Best Joshua Tree Sunrise Spots

Explore and Climb Arch Rock

Head back along Park Boulevard to explore (and climb!) Arch Rock. This unique arch sits atop a stack of boulders, formed from lava pushed up through the fault line.

Unlike many national parks, Joshua Tree allows you to climb along the boulders. Get out, explore, and get your picture on top of the popular Arch Rock.

Arch Rock is next to White Tank Campground, one of the park’s popular first-come, first-served campgrounds. Please be respectful to campers when visiting, particularly early in the morning.

Photograph Skull Rock

Continue along Park Boulevard to another famous rock formation, Skull Rock. Find a parking spot along the road and make the short trek out to the skull look alike.

In the morning, the rock should be quiet, before crowds swarm in the afternoon.

Snap a photo of the “skull” from the path off Park Boulevard. If you’re looking to explore the area more, take the 1.7-mile loop out to Jumbo Rocks Campground.

Hike Ryan Mountain or Hidden Valley Trail

If you’re looking for a challenging hike, take the 3-mile round trip hike to the summit of Ryan Mountain.

From the summit, you can observe sweeping views of Joshua Tree National Park. But be warned, this short trail is steep, covering over 1,000 feet of elevation in just 1.5 miles to the summit.

This popular trail should be hiked in the morning, particularly in the Summer, before high temperatures hit in the afternoon.

Ryan Mountain Trail

If you’re looking for a family-friendly, easy hike, choose the 1-mile loop through Hidden Valley Trail. This valley was once enclosed by rocks. It only became accessible after the rocks were removed by settlers, revealing the Hidden Valley.

Here you can spot many Joshua Trees and Yucca plants. This hike is perfect for kids who want to climb and explore the boulders.

After your hike, find a shaded picnic spot near the Hidden Valley picnic area, eat some lunch, and relax for the afternoon.

Hidden Valley Trail

See Sunset at Keys View

An hour or two before sunset, make the scenic drive out to Keys View, stopping to capture the Joshua Trees in the late afternoon sun.

Be sure to arrive at the Keys View parking lot at least 45 minutes before sunset. This scenic spot is popular and parking will fill up as sunset approaches.

Bring your tripod and find a spot along the ledge at the viewpoint. As the sun fades, purples and pinks will illuminate the valley below, providing grand views of Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley.

After sunset, head back along Keys View Road to take photos of Joshua Trees in the last light of the day. A tripod is crucial for an epic last light photo.

If You Have More Than One Day in Joshua Tree

If you have more time in Joshua Tree National Park, consider hiking the 1.1-mile round-trip trail out to Barker Dam for sunrise or sunset.

This easy loop takes you to a historic water tank built by early cattle ranches. Keep a lookout for bighorn sheep along the way!

Be sure to check with park rangers about the water levels at Barker Dam before heading out. If the dam is dried up, it’s not nearly as impressive at sunrise.

Barker Dam at Sunrise

Joshua Tree National Park is known for its dark night skies. Spend some time in the park to catch a glimpse at the star-filled sky either during a new moon or after the moon has set at night.

For night sky viewing, I like to refer to the Clear Dark Sky charts for guidance on star and Milky Way visibility.

Nearby Trips to Add to Your Joshua Tree Itinerary

If you’re looking for relaxation, make the 1 hour trip to Palm Springs, a town known for its spas and getaways.

Joshua Tree’s proximity to big cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, and Las Vegas, make it the perfect road trip destination. Explore more of Southern California before venturing up the coast on the Pacific Coast Highway!

Add more national parks to your road trip! Nearby parks include Channel Islands, Death Valley, and Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon National Park

Frequently Asked Questions About a Day Trip to Joshua Tree

Can you do Joshua Tree in a day?

Yes! Joshua Tree is one of the best national parks to see in only a day. In one day you can see the highlights of Joshua Tree, including Cholla Cactus Garden, Ryan Mountain, and sunset at Keys View.

How much time do you need in Joshua Tree?

To see the highlights of Joshua Tree National Park, you only need one day. If you want to explore the park’s backcountry or off-road drives, plan to spend at least 2 to 3 days in Joshua Tree.

Is Joshua Tree worth the trip?

Yes! Joshua Tree is definitely worth the trip. From unique teddy bear cholla cactus to Joshua trees and boulders, Joshua Tree national park is incredibly diverse. This park has something that everyone will enjoy.

What is the best time of year to go to Joshua Tree?

The best time of year to go to Joshua Tree is in the late fall or early spring. Most visitors choose to see Joshua Tree from November-December or March-April. This is when temperatures are comfortable during the day and night.

Is Joshua Tree free at night?

Joshua Tree National Park does not man the entrance stations to the park at night. This means visitors entering and exiting at night will not be required to pay entry.

Final Thoughts on One Day in Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree National Park is the perfect park to explore in just one day – just enough time to see the highlights!

If you only have time for a day trip to Joshua Tree, don’t miss:

  • Sunrise at Cholla Cactus Garden
  • Exploring Arch Rock and Skull Rock
  • Hiking Ryan Mountain or Hidden Valley
  • Sunset at Keys View

Are you looking for more ideas for your trip to Joshua Tree? Don’t miss this post on the best Joshua Tree sunrise spots!

Are you planning a national park trip but don’t know where to start? Get my free 28-page national park ebook where I break down everything you need to know to visit all 63 USA national parks.

Download your free ebook here.

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The Perfect 2-Day or 3-Day Joshua Tree Itinerary

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One of the best parts of living in California is the wide range of weekend travel opportunities. From my home in the Bay Area, I can easily explore wine country (Santa Rosa or Napa), the coast (Mendocino or Carmel-by-the-Sea), the mountains (Yosemite or Tahoe), the forest (the Coastal Redwoods or Giant Sequoias), or the desert (Joshua Tree or Death Valley) – all with a short 2-3 hour travel time by plane or car.

Speaking of Joshua Tree, it’s one of my favorite National Parks in California. After visiting this wonderland of rocks and spiky trees with a friend for the first time in 2018, Mr. V and I made a return stop during our road trip honeymoon in 2020. These two trips cemented Joshua Tree National Park as one of the coolest places I’ve been on earth – and convinced me that everyone should visit this tiny pocket of unique flora, fauna, and geology at least once.

If you’re planning a trip to Joshua Tree and uncertain where to start, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, I’m sharing all of my advice about visiting – way beyond just what to do for the two or three days you have to spend in the area. You’ll discover when to visit, what to do, where to stay, and what to pack, too. By the end, you’ll have all the info you need to plan an epic Joshua Tree itinerary for your own trip. Read on and start planning your next great California adventure!

In this post, I promote travel to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Yuhaviatam/ Maarenga’yam (Serrano) and Newe (Western Shoshone) peoples. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.

This post was originally published in July 2019, and was updated for 2022 travel in September 2021.
If you see any inaccuracies, please let me know in the comments.

Table of Contents

Joshua Tree vs. Joshua Tree National Park

It’s easy to get confused when you’re planning a trip to Joshua Tree… because some articles will be focused on Joshua Tree, California and others are about Joshua Tree National Park, which is right next door. Some will even focus on both, like this one! To clarify the issue, here’s a quick description of each.

Joshua Tree is a town located along California State Route 62 between the communities of Yucca Valley and Twentynine Palms. It’s home to 7,400 people, delicious restaurants, funky shops, and one of three entrances to Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua Tree National Park is a relatively new national park, only established in 1994. Named for the native Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) that is endemic to part of the park, it’s 1,235 square miles of sweeping land, rock formations, and unusual plants that have adapted to the unique climate. Joshua Tree National Park protects the land where the higher Mojave Desert and the lower Colorado Desert meet, and it’s unlike anywhere on earth.

There are three entrances to Joshua Tree National Park: a west entrance in Joshua Tree, a north entrance in Twentynine Palms, and a south entrance off Interstate 10 near the small town of Chiriaco Summit.

Oh, and in case you’re not confused enough, Californians also call it “J-Tree” which usually means the National Park – but could mean both! (Is your head spinning yet?!)

Joshua Tree Travel Tips

Before jumping into lists of what to do and how to fit it all in, I wanted to spend a short time covering some of the top questions about visiting Joshua Tree and planning your itinerary. Start here and all your questions will be answered!

When to Visit Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree is considered a “high desert;” it is a very dry climate with elevations between 2,000 feet and 4,000 feet above sea level. This means it has the weather of a desert… cranked up to 11 due to the elevation. This means that the sun shines hotter by day and the nights are even chillier than in lower elevation deserts.

What does this mean about when to visit Joshua Tree? It means that summers are hot and winters can be quite cold – even snowy/frosty at night under the right conditions. Thus the best time of year to visit Joshua Tree is in the spring or autumn. During these transition seasons, the days are warm or hot but not blazing and the nights aren’t too cold for stargazing.

If you’re visiting specifically to go stargazing, I recommend going in the autumn; the Milky Way will be more visible than during the spring months.

How Many Days in Joshua Tree

If you’re reading this post, you likely have either 2 days or 3 days to visit Joshua Tree. But is this the right number of days? Will you have a good time, and have enough time to see it all?

The perfect number of days in Joshua Tree is however many you have. However, if you want more specifics, I think spending 1-4 days in Joshua Tree is just right. It’s not a big enough park to merit a week unless you’re camping and hiking a lot.

One day in Joshua Tree is a bit short, but you can pack a lot in despite that. Four days will give you plenty of time to explore both inside and outside the park. 2 days in Joshua Tree is a great duration for a weekend trip, and you can enjoy even more if you have a full 3 days in Joshua Tree.

How to Travel to Joshua Tree

Whether you live in SoCal or are flying in for a trip, you’ll probably be driving to Joshua Tree from Los Angeles. From LAX, it’s a 2 hour, 40-minute drive to the town of Joshua Tree. You could also fly into Palm Springs, and make the 1-hour drive from there (though you’d enter through the Cottonwood entrance to JTNP, which I don’t cover in this post. )

For the purposes of this post, I’ll assume you’re staying in Joshua Tree or Twentynine Palms, as I did. It takes between 30-60 minutes to get into the heart of Joshua Tree National Park from any of the entrances, so it’s possible to do a day trip to Joshua Tree from L.A., but it’s going to be a long day of driving!

Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to get to Joshua Tree (the town or the national park) without a car; there’s no shuttle in Joshua Tree National Park. Cars at LAX can be super expensive, so book in advance to get the best deal; I’ve always had pretty good luck with Sixt, Alamo, and Enterprise when renting cars in Southern California.

Getting Oriented in JTNP

Since most of my Joshua Tree itinerary focuses on time spent in the National Park, I want to spend a quick second getting oriented. There are two main roads in the park: Park Boulevard which connects the Twentynine Palms entrance to the Joshua Tree entrance, and Pinto Basin Road which intersects Park Boulevard and runs south(ish) to the Cottonwood entrance.

Most park sights are along Park Boulevard, which is what I focus on primarily in this post. There are a few spots on Pinto Basin Road too; I’ve noted the location of each in the “Top Sights in Joshua Tree National Park” section below.

There are also a few smaller roads: Keys View Road (with spurs for Lost Mine Road and Juniper Flats Road), Barker Dam Road, and a few others that I’m pretty sure are just dirt roads and only open seasonally. In any case, the smaller roads all spur off Park Boulevard, so again: almost everything I recommend in this Joshua Tree itinerary is on that one road.

What to Pack for Joshua Tree

In addition to the essentials I recommend packing for all California travel, there are a few extras I recommend bringing specific to a Joshua Tree trip:

  1. A big, big, big water bottle. Or a few water bottles. Enough that you have a gallon of water per person, per day.
  2. A sun hat or baseball cap to help protect you from the sun, in addition to sunscreen.
  3. Any gear specific to the activities you plan to do: good hiking boots, climbing gear, camping gear, etc.

Beyond that, you don’t need anything special! Joshua Tree is an accessible place that receives millions of visitors each year. They all vary in ability and knowledge of the wild, and most don’t bring technical gear – you probably don’t need it either.

5 Top Things to Do in the Joshua Tree Region

Despite being both a relatively small park and small community, there is a lot to see and do in Joshua Tree. It’s actually surprising how much you can do both inside and outside the national park. Here are some suggestions to help you structure your own trip.

1. Explore Joshua Tree National Park

Obviously, the main attraction is to visit Joshua Tree National Park – that’s most likely why you’re here! (Unless you’re a festival-goer wondering what to do in between sessions at Coachella, but really, how did you end up on my blog?!)

It’s $25 for a seven-day pass to enter Joshua Tree National Park, so make the most of it during your trip! You can easily spend three full days seeing the sights in Joshua Tree, much less getting out and hiking or exploring the surrounding region doing some of the other activities I recommend here. You can also use the America the Beautiful pass for entry, which can save in the long run if you love visiting National Parks.

2. Go Hiking or Rock Climbing

If you love the outdoors, it’s no surprise that there are some amazing places to experience them here. There are hiking trails all over Joshua Tree National Park and the surrounding area; there are also great rock climbing routes both inside and outside the park.

No matter what physical activity you get up to, be sure to bring sunscreen and plenty of water. It’s incredibly dry in the desert, and it’s really easy to run out of water if you don’t plan ahead. There are no water stations in the park, so if you don’t bring water, you won’t be able to get any.

Even if you don’t think you need sunscreen, bring that too. Higher elevations mean the sun is even more harsh, and everyone sunburns.

3. Take Advantage of  BLM Lands & Trails

Most of the land surrounding Joshua Tree National Park is actually managed by the Bureau of Land Management. That means it’s open to the public, but most people don’t realize that or plan to take advantage of it. There are some great trails here too, in case you don’t get enough hiking done in the national park.

49 Palms Oasis trail (pictured above) is an ambitious trail; all the locals I met said it takes 2-3x longer than the signage suggests for a 3-mile hike, but it’s worth it to reach the palm-fringed oasis at the end.

4. Go Stargazing or Try Astrophotography

Joshua Tree has amazing dark skies overhead, and it’s a popular spot for stargazing with limited light pollution and clear, high-altitude skies. I put together a whole resource on how to go stargazing in Joshua Tree National Park shortly after my trip last year. There are some important rules for stargazing in the park after dark if you plan to do that.

If you love the night sky and photography, you also might try your hand at capturing the night sky with some astrophotography. A few quick tips:

  1. You’ll need a tripod and remote so your pictures are steady.
  2. Set your ISO between 1600-3200 and play with your shutter speed to see what you capture.
  3. Bring extra batteries – it’s surprisingly cold at night in the park, and your batteries will drain faster than you expect.

There’s also a small observatory, Sky’s the Limit, located close to the Twentynine Palms park entrance. If you’re visiting Joshua tree on the weekend, they occasionally hold public star parties where you can look through the telescopes brought by area volunteers. This is a great place if you want to see the stars but aren’t super familiar with the night sky, or don’t want to go into the park on your own at night.

5. Visit Pioneertown

Twenty minutes northwest of Joshua Tree (the town), Pioneertown is quite the experience. An old TV/movie set that still stands today, you can walk through the old town past storefronts showing what life was like as the west was settled.

On weekends, you can watch a gun show, where local actors take on historic characters to bring the history to life. It’s a great way to pass the afternoon, followed by a drink at nearby Pappy & Harriett’s.

11+ Things to Do in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is not a huge park, relatively speaking, but there’s still so much to see and do that it’s hard to cover it all in a single post; you certainly won’t see it all during 2 days in Joshua Tree – or even 3 days! Here are some of the best things to do, top sights, and best hikes in Joshua Tree.

1. Arch Rock (Pinto Basin Rd.)

Located near White Tank campground, a 0.3-mile short hike winds through the massive rock formations to show you to beautiful Arch Rock. It’s easy to get turned around in this labyrinth of boulders, so look for signs explaining the geology to stay on the path.

2. Barker Dam (Park Blvd.)

It might not seem like the 1.5-mile loop that takes you past Barker Dam is ambitious… but this popular hike is deceivingly tough. First, parts of the hike are on sand, which slows you down. There’s also little shade from the blazing sun overhead, so it’s easy to overheat or get dehydrated on the 45-60 minutes it can take to do this trail. Barker Dam is a beautiful midway point though!

3. Cholla Cactus Garden (Pinto Basin Rd.)

One of my life philosophies includes sacrificing sleep for travel… and Cholla Cactus Garden is absolutely worth waking up early for. If you visit at sunrise as I did, expect to see photographers set up carefully among the highly-prickly cacti waiting for the first rays of light to sparkle on the thorny spikes in every direction… and honeybees that pollinate on the cactus flowers that will chase you off if you get too close!

4. Hall of Horrors (Park Blvd.)

For all my rock climbers, the Hall of Horrors is one of the main rock climbing spots in Joshua Tree, but there’s also a trail here if climbing’s not your style (it’s definitely not mine!). The trail is only a 0.6-mile loop and it’s a popular stop among birders because there are some beautiful California wildflowers and other vegetation in the area that attract them.

5. Hidden Valley Trail (Park Blvd.)

Some trails are named perfectly – Hidden Valley Trail is one of those trails. The 1-mile trail enters through a break in a massive formation of boulders to work its way around the interior of a massive ‘bowl’ of rocks. This is a great hike in the morning or afternoon when the rocks provide respite from the sun at certain points in the hike.

6. Keys View (Park Blvd.)

Unlike some of the other places mentioned, Keys View doesn’t require any hiking and is accessible to visitors of all abilities. A drive up Keys View road takes you past massive juniper trees to the top of a ridge where you can look west across the whole of the Coachella Valley. This is a great spot to watch the sunset, obviously!

7. Lost Horse Mine (Park Blvd.)

I’ll be honest, Lost Horse Mine is one of the hikes I’ve always wanted to do in Joshua Tree, but haven’t been able to squeeze it into a visit yet. If you’re looking for a longer hike, this is the one to plan into your Joshua Tree itinerary!

A 6. 8-mile loop trail takes you to the Lost Horse Mine, which operated between 1894 and 1931, and produced 10,000 ounces of gold and 16,000 ounces of silver. I love mining history and am getting more into hiking, so this is a must-do for me on my next trip!

8. Desert Queen Mine (Park Blvd.)

Another relic of Joshua Tree’s pre-park days, Desert Queen Mine operated from the 1890s to 1961 – making it one of the longest running mines in the area. Today you can access it via a 3.4-mile loop trail at the end of several dirt roads in the park. (I note that they’re dirt because they may close seasonally and your rental car may not be allowed on them, so the hike might be longer depending on when you visit!)

9. Ryan Ranch (Park Blvd.)

Joshua Tree hasn’t always been protected land: at the end of the 19th century, miners set up here and operated one of the most profitable gold mines in the area. Today, you can visit the ruins of the old adobe house and mine, as well as a small cemetery. It’s a 0.8-1.2-mile trail across flat, sandy, unshaded land to reach the estate (don’t forget your water!).

10. Skull Rock (Park Blvd.)

Skull Rock is one of the most visited sights in the park because it’s right along the main road. Formed naturally by erosion, Skull Rock lives up to its name, looming over visitors. There isn’t much hiking to do in this area, but you can scramble over some of the rocks in the area for a different perspective on the landscape.

11. Split Rock Loop (Park Blvd.)

Split Rock is another popular rock to see, where a massive boulder has cracked through the passage of time. There’s a 1.9-mile loop trail through the surrounding countryside, which takes you past other monstrous boulders and Joshua trees.

Bonus: Visitor Center (Joshua Tree Entrance)

Of course, you should also swing by the Joshua Tree National Park visitors center since you’re spending so much time in the park. The building is located near the Joshua Tree/west entrance, and has displays about the history, flora, and fauna of the park. You can also get some really cool souvenirs at the gift shop here.

A 2-Day or 3-Day Joshua Tree Itinerary

Joshua Tree is a perfect weekend destination; it’s close enough to a major city that you can fly in, drive to the area, and explore within 2-3 days before departing back home. So whether you have two days or three days, here’s how to put together a perfect Joshua Tree weekend itinerary.

Day 1: Get Oriented with a Scenic Drive

Despite its small-but-mighty size, Joshua Tree National Park has only three two-lane roads throughout the park; it can take a while to get through the park.

Once you arrive at the park, get your park pass (or flash that America the Beautiful Pass) and spend the remainder of your day getting oriented to the park. A great option is to do the route from the Twentynine Palms entrance to the Joshua Tree entrance, so you can pass some of the big sites and get oriented.

Be sure to stop at Skull Rock, and make note of the various pull-outs (like Hall of Horrors, Ryan Ranch, and Keys View Drive). Depending on what time you arrive, you might even have time to do a little bit of hiking. Split Rock Trail is a great option in the cooler afternoon/evening hours.

Unless you’re camping in the park, you’ll need to drive back out to Joshua Tree or another community where you’re staying. For dinner, head to Joshua Tree Saloon, followed by tasting one of the 10+ margarita options at La Copine. I also recommend ordering a pizza from Pie for the People to-go, to use as lunch tomorrow (unless you brought other food). Otherwise, you’ll need to leave the park midday to get lunch.

Call it an early night, because tomorrow’s a long, jam-packed day!

Day 2: Sunrise, Sightseeing, Sunset, Stargazing

From before sunrise until after sunset – this is your big day to see as much of Joshua Tree National Park as possible!

Set that alarm and rise at zero dark thirty (before sunrise!). Jelly Donut opens early (4am!) with fresh donuts and monster-sized coffees, which makes it a perfect spot to grab some fuel for the day ahead.

Make the 45-minute drive to Cholla Cactus Garden. This is a popular spot to watch the sunrise above the mountains and you’ll probably see a lot of photographers here if the weather is particularly good.

After the sun is well up, head back up Pinto Basin Road and park at the Arch Rock access parking lot, which is on the way back toward the main part of the park. You can’t park at White Tank Campground unless you’re staying there, so the hike is a bit longer from the designated parking area. This little loop is a great introduction to the unique geology of the park.

If you brought lunch with you, you can stay in the park for the remainder of the day, but be aware that it’s hot and you need plenty of water if you plan to do anything outside during midday. If you choose to head out of the park for lunch or to avoid the heat, I totally get it – that’s what I did on my first trip, too!

Braving the heat? Okay, sounds good! I’d head to either Barker Dam Trail and/or Hidden Valley Trail to hike during the hottest hours of the day. Neither is fully shaded, but both have sections that limit your exposure to the sun. Don’t forget to drink lots of water and use that sunscreen!

In the afternoon, you can plan another hike. Ryan Ranch is a lovely stroll, or you could aim for a more ambitious trail like Lost Horse Mine. (If you’re just coming back into the park, I would still do Barker Dam and/or Hidden Valley.)

If you visit during the spring or autumn as I recommend, the sun will set around 6-7pm; stay in the park and make the drive up to Keys View to watch the sun go down beyond the San Jacinto Mountains across Coachella Valley. Otherwise, be sure to check sunset times so you don’t miss it.

Tonight’s the night for stargazing! While you wait for the sky to get completely dark after sunset, head back out to town for dinner. Opt for Pie for the People if you haven’t tried them yet, or head to Mexican Street Tacos in Twentynine Palms for really authentic flavors.

Then drive back into the park and use one of the roadside pullouts to stargaze to your heart’s content. Joshua Tree is arguably the best place for stargazing in this part of the country!

Day 3: Explore Beyond the Park

If you have 3 days in Joshua Tree (instead of just 2 days), you could head back into Joshua Tree National Park… or you can explore some of the other experiences in the area.

Start the morning with a hike to 49 Palms Oasis or one of the other BLM trails on the park edge. Then head back to town for brunch at 29 Palms Inn or a breakfast sandwich from Natural Sisters Cafe. Treat yourself to a cool snack from Fosters Freeze if the day is particularly hot.

In the afternoon, make your way to Pioneertown. Depending on which day you visit, you might see the gun show – you can always peer into the storefronts and get a sense of the wild west days that inspired this TV and tourist destination. Grab lunch or dinner at Pappy & Harriett’s as makes sense for your timing. Then it’s one final night (more stargazing?! ✨) before you head on your way home.

Where to Stay Near Joshua Tree National Park

Because Joshua Tree is one of the most popular national parks in California (another is Yosemite, obvs), all of the communities around the park have loads of accommodation options.

All of the options mentioned below are in the Yucca Valley/Joshua Tree/Twentynine Palms area, rather than south of the park near Palm Springs or Indio. (I’ve never stayed in that area, so I don’t want to recommend randomly!)

You can also camp in the park if you book in advance or turn up early enough.

National Chain Hotels near Joshua Tree

From Motel 6 or America’s Best Value Inn to Holiday Inn or Best Western, you have your choice of hotels in towns like Yucca Valley and Twentynine Palms. Most hotels fall in the $125-$150 per night range. Almost all hotels in this area are in the 2-star and 3-star range.

If you’re looking for luxury accommodations, you’ll be better served by staying in Palm Springs south of the national park.

Independent Hotels near Joshua Tree

Prefer to stay local? There are choices:

  • 9 Palms Inn is a funky, colorful roadside motel right along Highway 62. Rooms start from $69 per night, book on Booking.com or Hotels.com.
  • Harmony Motel is located close to ‘downtown’ Twentynine Palms and has surprisingly comfy rooms with homey touches. Rooms start from $95 per night, book on Booking.com.
  • 29 Palms Inn is slightly off the beaten path but mostly on the way to the Twentynine Palms park entrance. The property feels like a true oasis in the desert. Rooms start from $105 per night for cabins, $125 for adobe bungalows, and $150 for guest rooms.

Camping in Joshua Tree

One thing I love about Joshua Tree is that it only has a few roads and only eight campgrounds. Despite recent bad behavior by some visitors, there isn’t a lot of human impact on the land, and that’s what makes it special.

Four of the campgrounds in J-Tree are booked by reservation during the peak months between October and May: Black Rock, Cottonwood, Indian Cove, and Jumbo Rocks.

The other four campgrounds – Belle, Hidden Valley, Ryan, and White Tank – are first-come, first-served all the time. Reservation campsites are also first-come, first-serve during the hot summer months when the park is less crowded. You can book a spot in advance on the recreation.gov site.

Vacation Rentals near Joshua Tree

There’s a fair amount of backlash against the vacation rentals that are popping up literally everywhere in the Joshua tree area. Locals are definitely feeling the negative effect of outside investors coming in to build camps and houses just for travelers… but also, there are some really amazing options if this is how you prefer to stay:

  • Silver Bullet is an off-grid airstream and very on-vibe for Joshua Tree right now (from $145 per night; book on VRBO)
  • The Bird’s Nest, a gorgeous design-forward spot you won’t want to leave (from $268 per night; book on VRBO)
  • The Home with a Dome is a perfect place to stay if you love stargazing (from $349 per night, book on VRBO)
  • Serendipity, a funky earthy spot with a pool to help pass the hot desert days (from $403 per night, book on VRBO)

Oh, and if you want a total splurge, SkyHouse is a destination in its own right (from $1,652 per night; book on Booking. com)

Have other questions about visiting Joshua Tree? Let me know in the comments and I’m happy to answer!

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desert, rocks and coyote howls

An informative article about the most beautiful National and natural parks in the state of California, photo, short background information.

1| Joshua Tree National Park - Joshua Tree National Park

This strange park is located in the Mojave Desert in the very south of California, 2 hours from Los Angeles. The site is located at an ecological crossroads between the high Mojave Desert and the low Colorado Desert. The result is an amazing desert flora, namely wonderful yucca trees called Joshua Tree (Joshua Tree). Sunsets are especially bright here - at this time the desert is especially beautiful.

Joshua Tree park

Distance from Los Angeles - 200 km. or 2 hours by car.

2| Yosemite National Park - Yosemite National Park

Probably the most beautiful park in California , which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. Known for its waterfalls and granite monoliths rising a kilometer above the surface of the park. 4 million visitors a year - the numbers speak for themselves, the size of the park is about 285 thousand hectares.

Yosemite is on the Nevada border in northeastern California.


Yosemite National Park

Distance from Los Angeles - 450 km. or 4.5 hours on the road

Distance from San Francisco - 265 km. or 3 hours drive

How to rent a car while traveling in the USA?

And then we went to another national park, Joshua Tree National Park, to once again interact with the most creative trees in the world. We got into it just before sunset and instantly fell in love with this park. Since there was no time left to explore the sights, we decided to definitely return here, and soon we did! In this article, I will tell you where is the best place to meet sunsets and sunrises in Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua Tree ( Joshua Tree ) is a yucca tree, Joshua tree, or yucca brevofolia . The name of the tree was given by the Mormons who crossed the Colorado River, and when they saw a tree-like yucca, they decided that it was the prayer of Joshua embodied in the plant with hands raised to the sky. Like a prayer to the setting and rising sun, the high desert of the Mojave appeared before us when we first arrived here.

Joshua three are not just tall yuccas, but whole trees with real bark! This was the main surprise. And the biggest surprise was that huge blocks of granite, which are of volcanic origin, have mysteriously accumulated in this place. Climbers enjoy coming to Joshua Tree and training on the local rocks.

As I said, I fell in love with these trees at first sight when we arrived at Joshua Tree Park at sunset. Since then we have been there two more times, staying for a few days. Joshua Tree is the most visited park in ours.

Joshua Three Park in California has several trails for those who like to walk among the thorny Joshua trees, bushes and other plants that are still rich in the Mojave and Colorado deserts. Yes, the park is located in two deserts at once! For information on how to get there, what to see in the park, if you come for the whole day or for several, see our detailed. And now I will talk about sunsets and sunrises.

See also:

For spectacular sunsets at Joshua Tree Park, stay overnight here. However, unlike other national parks in California and other states, like, or, there are no lodges inside the park in Joshua Tree. And there are only campsites.

We spent the night both in the territory of this park both in campsites and in hotels located in the cities at the entrance to the park. A hotel near Joshua Tree can be booked in Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree or Twentynine Palms in the north, or in Indio or Palm Springs in the south of the park (direct link to Booking ). Of course, it is better and more comfortable to sleep in a hotel, and you don’t need to carry camping equipment with you!). Based on our experience, we recommend an inexpensive decent hotel Super 8 in Yucca Valley.

But for sunsets, and especially sunrises, it is easier to be already in the park in order to pack up in just five minutes and arrive at the right point on time. From the nearest cities to the best points of observation of the setting sun - 15-20 miles. That is half an hour on the road. And driving in the dark is not the most pleasant experience.

Best places to watch sunsets

So, I'm talking about the best, in our opinion, places where you should see off the sun in Joshua Tree Park. And coming here for the sunsets is a must! It's like being in and not seeing. Or do not go to the sunset at.

Even in California itself, everyone prefers to be on the beach at sunset. We also visited the ocean on and on, and there is no doubt - it's wonderful. And yet we are always drawn back to the sunset in Joshua Tree.

The park has a road called Park Blvd that starts at the park's western entrance (Joshua Tree City) and ends at the northern entrance (Twentynine Palms). Or vice versa, depending on which side you come from.

Map of Joshua Tree Park (clickable)

Here are the best places to watch the sunset at Joshua Tree:

  1. From Hidden Valley Campground to Cap Rock Trail road (or rather its 1.5 miles) runs strictly from north to south. At the same time, the western side is open, while from the east there is a mountain, which is illuminated by the sun leaving the horizon. It is here that you should find a suitable place to meet the sunset with the most liked joshua trees or climb a rock. On our first visit to the park, we just passed here at sunset, and we were just lucky. But it was then that we noticed this place, and returned there more than once.
  2. Hidden Valley Nature Trail . It starts at the picnic area of ​​the same name, where you can park your car and go hiking, choosing a convenient place along the way to watch the sunset.
  3. Keys View Road Section 2.5 miles from Cap Rock Park Boulevard turnoff to Lost Horse Mine turnoff. There, too, the west is open and you can admire the Joshua trees in all their glory.

And now I will show the sunsets in these places, as well as one sunset that we met in the part of the park where the Colorado desert reigns.

Hidden Valley Sunset


As I said, on the very first day we had very little time, we could only drive through the park. However, nature decided to show us all the magical beauty of Joshua Tree Park, and there were beautiful clouds in the sky. As dusk approached, the spectacle became more and more magnificent!

We still have no idea what lies ahead

The rocks are gradually reddening

Mountains in the east were painted

And clouds crawled into the sky

By the way, someone climbed these rocks in advance and saw off the sun there!

And we even hung this photo on our wall!

There sit the lucky ones!


The second time we deliberately arrived at the section of the road on the park boulevard, which looks to the west and began to wait for the setting sun. And although this time the clouds were not so effects, but we still liked it!

Golden Time

Enjoy the view and head to Hidden Valley campsite for the night. It is very close

We also came to the same section of the road a few years later and again saw off the sun there. With us there were guys from Los Angeles who were filming an amateur film. They needed a scene where the main character drives off into the sunset in a convertible. And as you can see, they chose the same place.

We also admired the joshua trees, trying not to disturb the young filmmakers.

And the eastern mountain began to blush, as if a whole mountain of sand, as we saw in the park in Colorado

, we drove a little south, towards CAP ROCK

Waiting for the lilac sky

Lost Palms Oasis trail sunset

We also met the sunset on the hiking route to the Lost Palms Oasis, more precisely on the way back. This trail is located in the southeast part of the park in the Colorado Desert. It is quite difficult, but we managed to return just before sunset.

Joshua trees do not grow here, as they are typical of the Mojave Desert. But we admired other plants, such as jumping choya (Choya cactus), yucca and okotiyo.

Located in California, USA. Its total area is 3196 sq. km. The park was founded on October 31, 1994, when US President Clinton officially designated the Joshua Tree as a national park.

The park soon became well known due to its proximity to Los Angeles. However, three-quarters of the protected area currently remains inaccessible to visitors.

Joshua Tree Park has desert status. It is located at the point where two giant deserts of North America intersect - Mojave and the Sonoran Desert. . The southern and eastern sections of the national park resemble the Sonoran Desert in their vegetation - creosote bushes and "jumping" cacti grow here choli .

The western sections of the park are located higher, so they are more humid and cool. Spreading trees are found here in large numbers yucca . Stunning rock complexes are located in the central part of the protected area.

Joshua National Park Tree has a well-developed network of hiking and horse trails. Their total length is 100 km. For this reason, numerous lovers of walking, trekking, horseback riding come here every year. Despite the fact that every year the park is visited by 1.25 million 90,016 people, protected lands remain underdeveloped - there are no gas stations or hotels in the park.

There are no souvenir shops, restaurants or museums here. Entire area of ​​ Joshua Tree Park includes paved and unpaved roads, equestrian trails, tent sites.

Joshua Tree National Park Attractions

Five oases are located in the national park - they are impressive bird cities. During the spring migrations, flocks of birds fly here from the Pacific Ocean. Lost Palms Oasis is one of the biggest. The trail, which is seven kilometers long, connects it to an oasis called the Spring of the Cotton Tree. In this area you can see plants such as yucca, jojoba, as well as a variety of cacti.

Blooming Desert is an amazingly beautiful sight. With the onset of spring showers, a colorful carnival of flowers begins on its territory: sand verbena, primroses, indigo bushes, desert lavender, and ocotillos bloom. Choli cacti, calico cactus and many other beautiful plants are pleasing to the eye.

Famous for its amazing lilies. Seeing their dazzling white flowers is quite difficult, because their flowering time varies from year to year. Typically, the Joshua tree blooms between February and April.

Address: 74485 National Park Drive, Twentynine Palms, CA, USA

Joshua Tree National Park is a wilderness park in California. Even in Russian there is a variant of the name “ Joshua Tree ", causing me to associate with some Arzamas-16. In fact, it's just a tracing paper from the English name: Joshua Tree . It takes its name from a species of tree that grows in the Mojave Desert. For hundreds of miles along the road to Las Vegas, there is nothing but desert, hills, and Joshua trees. And in this national park there are an unprecedented number of such trees - a real desert forest. The best time to visit it is winter and spring. There are two cities nearby: Palm Springs and Palm Desert. These are resort towns where the rich, who do not want to travel far, choose from Los Angeles (and not only) in winter. In winter, in these cities, the temperature is even more or less tolerable +25 ... +30 degrees Celsius. In what hell they turn in the summer, I'm even afraid to imagine.

San Diego is 250 miles from Joshua Tree. It seems to be not very far, but in between times you can’t go any more. Nat has to travel to different cities for work, and when she needed to go to Palm Desert, we decided to use this opportunity - while she was working in the city, I dangled into the park.

The road passes through the San Gorgonio Pass (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Gorgonio_Pass) - the windiest place in Southern California, where a strong wind always blows. To harness the power of the wind, an array of windmills with a capacity of 615 megawatts has been built on the pass. (The truck at the bottom of the picture gives an idea of ​​the size of these windmills)

And since this is not just a windy place, but also a very arid desert with rare rains, here, among the windmills, there are solar power plants. All of these alternative energy sources reminded me of our trip to Sequoia National Park as we drove through other wind and solar farms. Apparently, alternative energy is an important part of California's energy supply.

Although the temperature in the valley has exceeded 35 degrees of heat, in some places in the mountains the remains of snow were still white.

Mojave Desert

A road runs through the park from south to north, making it convenient to drive through it and see all the sights. The park itself is located on the territory of two deserts at once: Mojave and Colorado. Moreover, this is not just a separation from the lantern when a line is drawn on the map. This border can be easily determined even with the naked eye from the landscape and vegetation. It seems that just now there were Joshua trees around and, suddenly, they disappear and are replaced by yuccas, choya cacti and octoiyo bushes.

The northern part of Joshua Tree Park is full of boulders and rocks.

These boulders are a favorite training ground for rock climbers. When the weather is good (and it is always good here, except during the summer months, which turn the desert into an oven), climbers are visible on almost every rock along the road.

There are low boulders, the size of a two-three story house. And there are rocks that go somewhere into the sky and people climbing them seem like ants. These "climbing" places are concentrated mainly in the northern part of the park - in the Mojave Desert. The farther to the south, the lower the piles of stones become, and the higher monolithic rocks are less and less common.

In mid-March, Joshua's trees were in full bloom with greenish-yellow fleshy flowers.

And at the end of April, among the thorns, you could already see whole bunches of either unripe berries or green nuts.

A little off the through road is the Keys View point. When you travel through the park, you do not notice that this flat desert is located at an altitude of almost one and a half kilometers above sea level. And when you stop at Keys View, the mountains go down sharply and from a height of 1581 meters a view of tens of kilometers around opens up. At sea level, an endless valley stretches south and southwest of this point, and in some places it lies even lower. There are the cities of Palm Springs and Palm Desert. If you arrive at Keys View after dark, the cities look like a scattering of sparkling diamond dust scattered across the black blanket of the night desert. And above this scattering shines another diamond dust - stars scattered over the black veil of the night sky. The night on Keys Vew is dark and impenetrable, and the glitter of the distant city does not obscure the stars. Here is such a rare opportunity to see the stars above your head and the night city below at the same time.


The satellite cities of Palm Springs and Palm Desert from Keys View are clearly visible even during the day, and 50 kilometers to the south, the Salton Sea shimmers with a gray stripe, especially noticeable in good weather.

In the very center of the park there are places with a desert as smooth as a table, which is diversified only by the intricately twisted candelabra of Joshua trees

And here, in the center of the park, lies a group of boulders - Jumbo Rocks. Jumbo Rocks - Giant Rocks are really huge. They differ from the northern rocks in that they consist almost exclusively of whole round boulders, many of which do not have a single crack! Only flies and small lizards can climb such boulders. Therefore, there are almost no climbers here. We wandered more than once in the stone labyrinths between Jumbo Rocks. You walk there, you walk ... It seems that you are about to go to the right place, and the passage suddenly turns in the other direction or ends in a dead end. Of course, you can’t get lost there - the place is quite compact, and it’s very interesting to walk through the labyrinths.

There are several camping sites in the central and northern parts of the park in the Mojave Desert. As a rule, these campsites are located among the picturesque stone ruins and for some reason are concentrated in the Mojave.


Colorado/Sonora Desert

The Colorado Desert is part of the greater Sonoran Desert that extends east into Arizona and south into Mexico. It occupies the southern half of the park. When you drive into this desert from the Mojave, you immediately notice the changes around.

The most characteristic plant of this desert is the cholla cactus. In Russian, the pronunciation of cholla is found, but in English it is pronounced in the Spanish manner - choya, so we also pronounce it that way.

Choya cacti look fluffy and soft. One of the varieties is even called "choya teddy bear" (teddy bear cholla). But it is not even an hour when you touch such a "bear cub" ...

Choi needles are thin, sharp and extremely durable. They easily pierce any clothing and will have little difficulty in piercing non-leather shoes. More than once it happened that the choya needle went almost a centimeter into the soles of my sneakers like butter.

There are also less scenic choya species.

Inside the fleshy choy trunk - a woody tubular "skeleton"

Ocotillo bushes (again the Spanish pronunciation of the word ocotillo) - often found in the Colorado desert. But for some reason, in Joshua Tree Park, okotillos grow in only one place, which is called: Ocotillo Patch:

Of course, their trunks are also dotted with sinister needles.

It is a pity that the winter of 2012-1013 was dry and there was no rain at all. If there were at least some rainfall, then in spring the desert would delight us with bright colors. And the trunks of the okotiyo would be covered with small leaves hiding the needles, and large clusters of bright red flowers would hang from the ends of the branches. (Photos of the blooming desert from previous trips: )

A typical landscape of the southern part of the Joshua Tree National Park:

in the foreground - Mojave Yukka. Another plant with alternative ways of pronunciation. Some Americans pronounce it "ya-kka", and some "yu-kka". We prefer the yucca option, in our opinion it sounds somehow prettier - at least, it is not in tune with our “badass”.

Rock piles are also found in the southern part of the park, but they are clearly different from the stones of the Mojave Desert - even the color is different, and they are not "climbing" at all.

At the southern entrance to the park there is a traditional information center where they accept payment for visiting the national park, sell annual passes, postcards, souvenirs and other literature.

The park is undoubtedly interesting and worth at least a one-day trip

Desert, cacti, thorns, rocks, coyote howling at night... Where did the hard times take us again? And she brought us to the Joshua Tree Park, which was tritely named after the Joshua trees, which are simply innumerable here. Joshua Tree was declared a national park at 1994 and included parts of the Mojave and Colorado Desert. The park is located in southeastern California and covers an area of ​​790,636 acres (3199.59 km 2). I guess I will never cease to be amazed at the diversity of California.

Entrance/entrance to Joshua Tree is not free, as, indeed, to many other US national parks. Fee collected by ranger at park entrances:

- $15 for non-commercial vehicle for 7 days;

- $5 for admission to one person on foot for 7 days;

- $30 annual pass price (data for 2015).


Was it worth trudging 2.5 hours into the desert when the cool ocean air and palm trees were at home? Yes, it was worth it! This is just an amazing place with its own unusual atmosphere. Probably, not everyone will be able to fall in love with Joshua Tree National Park, but if already at the entrance to the soul so shyly, unobtrusively, the first glimpses of a great feeling begin to creep in, then this love will be forever. This place can be brutal with its 100+ degrees Fahrenheit in the summer (38 degrees Celsius) and snow in the winter, so to keep the weather from getting in the way of exploring the park, it's worth visiting in the spring or fall.

As we explored our new hobby of rock climbing, we were looking for a place to put our Malibu skills to practice. And experienced climbers of our group decided to take us kids to Joshua Tree National Park. And not just like that, because this park is a paradise for climbers. Although the cliffs here are relatively low and rarely exceed 230 ft (70 m), they captivate with their great variety and different levels of difficulty. No need to queue or arrive very early to take the track on the rock, as we did in Malibu - there is enough space on the rocks here for everyone.

The rock formations of Joshua Tree National Park were formed over 100 million years ago by cooling magma beneath the granite surface. Groundwater gradually destroyed the stones and gave them rounded shapes, and the floods did the main job - they washed the soil, leaving on the surface witnesses of bygone days - huge stone boulders.

Recipe from Joshu-Three: add some fantasy, stones, rays of the setting sun, turn on the camera, wait 1 second and get a photo as a keepsake.

An interesting stone called Skull Rock, which was shaped by the skillful hands of wind and water into the shape of a skull, is marked on the map of the park, so it will be easy to find.


Now for the locals, the Joshua trees, sometimes also called yucca palms, yucca trees, or yucca palm trees. These are probably the most photogenic trees I have ever seen - their bizarre shapes look gorgeous against the sky, by the way, it is because of this that these trees got their name.

The name Joshua Tree was given by a group of Mormons who crossed the Mojave Desert in the mid-19th century. They saw in the outlines of the branches of the tree the hands of the Biblical Joshua (Jesus Nun) who guided travelers to the west.

The Joshua tree grows in southwestern North America in the states of California, Arizona, Utah and Nevada, where its habitat is limited mainly to the Mojave Desert between 400 and 1800 m above sea level.

Just for the sake of a photo session of these trees against the backdrop of sunset, you can come to Joshua Tree National Park.


And the cacti of Joshua Tree Park! They, too, cannot be ignored. They grow like mushrooms in a bunch and dilute the desert landscape with bright colors.

Tired but happy after a day of rock climbing, we go to sleep at the Hidden Valley campsite, which, by the way, is considered one of the most beautiful in the park and well located, but where you can’t make a reservation, so we were very lucky when in the midst season managed to take 2 places side by side.

There are 9 campsites in the park, 2 of which (Black Rock and Cottonwood) have water. The price in campsites is on average 10-15 dollars for a place in which there can be up to 6 people and up to 2 cars. Reservations from October to May are possible at Black Rock and Indian Cove Campground, all other campsites work on the principle of "first come - first serve", or whoever comes first gets the slippers. From May (June) to October (September), most of the campsites are closed, as the real desert rages in the park at this time with its 40 degrees Celsius in the shade, so even those who swore eternal love to Joshua Tree National Park prefer stay at home and languish in the throes of love.

Practical advice

Since most campsites don't have water taps, it's worth throwing a couple of extra gallons of life-giving liquid into the car (no, it's not beer, it's water, although cold beer will sell with a bang in the evening).

Be sure to bring ice coolers with you to keep food from spoiling.

And in the evening, no matter how hot it is during the day, in the period from autumn to spring, you should be prepared for cool and sometimes cold nights, so warm sleeping bags should still be taken.

At night, food should be hidden in the car, as cunning coyotes will not leave it unattended. By the way, there are a lot of coyotes here. And at night they start their sad songs, which can sometimes be confused with the cries of people.

Despite the fact that it's hot outside, it's still worth putting on a long-sleeve sweater, as you can burn out in a matter of hours.

Shoes are best worn closed and high, as there are snakes in the park, and although they try to stay away from people, anything can happen.

And what nights in Joshua Tree Park! Clean air, lack of lighting (in large cities it is called light pollution - light pollution) allow you to see the bright radiance of billions of stars in the sky. Therefore, fans also come to Joshua Tree National Park to look at the starry sky through a telescope.

You lie in your tent at night, look through the crack at the starry sky, listen to the howling of coyotes and think that you are still a happy person.

The next day, limiting ourselves to rock climbing and bypassing the area around the Hidden Valley campsite, we become ordinary tourists and go to take pictures at various viewing points.

Noteworthy is Keys View, which offers impressive views of the desert mountains, the Palm Springs valley, the peaks of San Jacinto and San Gorgonio.

To get to know the park better and feel it, it is best to separate from the crowd of tourists with cameras and walk along quiet paths, since there are quite a lot of them here. Here you can see detailed maps of the entrances to Joshua Tree National Park, as well as hiking trails, roads, campsites, picnic areas, climbing routes, etc.

Output: in Joshua Tree National Park there is something mysterious, primeval, attractive and repulsive at the same time, I can say with confidence that the park has a soul that not every tourist is able to know. Definitely, this park is worth adding to the list of California attractions.

Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park

Palm Springs is a resort town southeast of Los Angeles. Many festivals and conferences are held in Palm Springs, for example, the famous Coachella music festival takes place very close to the city in the Coachella Valley of the same name. There are also a lot of art galleries in the city, we even found a gallery of a Russian artist, which we really liked.

Palm Springs is surrounded by mountains on all sides, which is why the weather is so good here: 354 days a year are sunny, and there is very little rainfall. It was the time that served as an impetus for the development of the city in the tourist direction: the climate is very suitable for people with tuberculosis diseases because of the dry air. Now there are a lot of spa hotels in Palm Springs. As my friend said, Palm Springs is a spa town.

Driving from Los Angeles to Palm Springs takes about 2 hours. So we decided to go for the weekend: we booked a cool boutique hotel for only $ 150, found out that Joshua Tree National Park was nearby, made plans and drove off.

On the whole, we enjoyed our holiday: we had a good rest at the hotel, visited the cafes, galleries of the city, went to see the Joshua tree. The only negative is the weather, it’s too hot in Palm Springs in mid-June, it’s impossible to move around without a car, and we decided to walk around the city on foot. After 15 minutes of walking, we urgently decided to look for a place where you can buy juice or smoothies and go back to the car.

By the way, Palm Springs even has its own Walk of Fame, just like on Hollywood Boulevard. True, it's not that interesting.

Desert Hills Premium Outlets is also a 20-minute drive from Palm Springs. To my chagrin or happiness, I found out about the outlets only after the trip, so there will be a reason to go again.

What to do in Palm Springs for 2 days? Plan a trip to Palm Springs for 2 days:

- leave Los Angeles at 9 am and go directly to Joshua Tree National Park. A few hours to explore the park is enough. Entrance to Joshua Tree Park by car costs $20.

- check into a hotel and enjoy the rest of the day at the hotel: go to a restaurant, spa, swim in the pool and sunbathe,

- have breakfast in the morning, sunbathe, check out of the hotel,

- after checking out, look into the galleries of the city, see the city and go to the outlet.

One of the galleries in Palm Springs

By the way, our hotel was very cool and quite cheap by American standards: about $150 per night from Saturday to Sunday. It was a boutique hotel, it was recently renovated, so it is new and beautiful, but the style of the hotel is not modern, but rather in the old style - white two-story, and we really liked it. Although we certainly came out of season, I think that in season the prices are much higher there, and we would not be the only ones who would sunbathe and swim in the pools (and there are 2 of them: fresh and salt water). So we had a great rest, arranged a little secluded honeymoon in a beautiful place.


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