Visiting Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree is an American National Park open year round. Located in two distinct desert ecosystems – the Mojave and the Colorado. Joshua Tree National Park get’s its name from the forrest of Joshua trees, otherwise known as Yuccas that are native to the Mojave desert. These trees are distinct in that they look straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. While the National Park is spectacular, there is an entire artistic community in the surrounding towns, which support and inspire creators, antique lovers, artists and musicians. Joshua Tree is the perfect place to go for anyone looking to be inspired, flex their creativity, and appreciate mother nature.
WHEN TO VISIT
Joshua Tree National Park is located central California, between Los Angeles and Last Vegas. The desert park is actually made up of both the Mojave and the Colorado Deserts and the closest big city is about two hours away. This means that you can fly into five international airports to get to Joshua Tree, all of which are 2-3 hours away, including John Wayne Airport Anaheim, Los Angeles Airport, Hollywood Burbank Airport, San Diego Airport, Las Vegas Nevada Airport. You can also fly into Palm Springs, which is only an hour from Joshua Tree.
What To Expect
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Joshua Tree is in the middle of the desert, which means you can always expect temperatures to be mild to hot. The park is open year round and see’s visitors on a regular basis. In the summer months, you’ll see temperatures at the highest, over 85 degrees during the day. The best time of the year to go is in the spring and fall, where daily temperatures are at a peak of 85 degrees and drop during the evening.
There are three entrances that you can choose from when visiting Joshua Tree. While all entrances lead to the same stunning views, the west entrance is the main way to access the park. This entrance is the closest to town and right upon entering you can see the rocks and yucca trees. To enter Joshua Tree National Park, it is $30 per car, which will give you access to 7 days in Joshua Tree. You can also gain access to the park with an Annual National Park Pass for $80. This pass gives you access to over 2,000 federal recreation sites.
If you enjoy true crime as much as us, you know that National Parks are notorious for predators. In addition to listening to Park Predators podcast to prepare yourself and maintain alert, you really should be focused on staying safe from the heat and hiking trails. We recommend bringing lots of water, especially if you are planning a hike or visiting in the summer months. The park recommends bringing at least one gallon of water per day, per person. As for hiking and climbing, we recommend staying on the trails and making sure you have all the proper equipment for any rock climbing. Last but not least, we recommend planning your trip ahead of time, as there is no cell phone service in the park.
Joshua Tree, Twentynine Palms, and Yucca Valley are the three small towns that surround Joshua Tree National Park, all of which are just a few miles outside the park & are extremely close together. That said, for being pretty small, there are a number of activities, restaurants, and hotels.
Where To Stay
CIELITO LINDO RETREAT
This beautiful retreat located right next door to Joshua Tree Village is the perfect getaway for a group of eight friends or family. With an outdoor spa, desert views, and rustic decor, this house has everything you need, including a well stocked kitchen!
SUNSET & SUNBURST
This disco-retro house is absolutely picturesque. From the funky decor to the peaceful hammocks and hot tub, it offers everything you could want alongside desert views. It’s minutes away from the park entrance and a quick walk away from some of our favorite coffee and lunch spots.
DOME IN THE DESERT
Re-energize in solace under the desert sky in this modern-bohemian dome, featuring many personally designed and handcrafted items
AREA 55 FUTURO
For the ultimate glamping experience, this Area 55 Futuro House is only one of 85 in the world. The restored house has a 360 degree view of the desert with access to an outdoor bath house and grill. This is perfect for those who want to camp in style.
El Rancho is a 1957 off-grid desert dwelling in Joshua Tree, CA. We welcome you to dream, create, reset and enjoy the magic of the desert. With brand new appliances and decor, it’s the perfect getaway for a fresh and peaceful weekend.
Tucked away in a private lot filled with Joshua trees and cacti, this luxury Tiny House is the perfect retreat. The style is a mix between rustic and modern, matching perfectly with the desert ambiance.
TINY LITTLE JOE CABIN
Little Jo is a newly renovated 1950’s homesteader that pairs bohemian character with modern desert design. The perfect place to take in desert panoramas and your morning coffee
Located in Yucca Valley, this unique and modern home has been fully remodeled with an attention to both comfort and detail. Joshua Tree entrance is just a short drive away, with immediate access to hiking and mountains right next to the property.
LOST HORSE VALLEY
Split into two different trails: Lost Horse Mine (4 miles roundtrip) or Lost Horse Loop (6.5 miles roundtrip), these hikes both offer some amazing opportunities to see beautiful rock formations and Joshua Trees.
PANORAMA LOOP TRAIL
This moderately difficult 6.4-mile loop trail boasts breathtaking views of the Coachella Valley and surrounding mountain ranges as well as unique geological formations. The hike begins from the Black Rock Canyon Campground and gains 1194 feet of elevation.
This is a 3-mile hike, out-and-back trail with 1,050 feet of elevation gain with no shade available. On your climb up you will pass many beautiful craggy rock forms, see unique cacti and climb stairs made out of rock.
Barker Dam Trail, also known as the Big Horn Dam, is an easy 1.2-mile loop leading through the park’s beautiful boulder formations and large Joshua Trees. Catch views of the far-off San Gorgonio Mountain, plant life and rock art. This is the perfect trail for a short day trip.
OASIS OF MARA
This short 0.5-mile walk on a paved trail leading from the Oasis of Mara Visitor Center. The path leads to a grouping of palm trees and has informational signs about the Serrano people who first settled the oasis. It is not necessarily known to be the best walk in the park, but the Oasis of Mara Visitor Center is a good starting point if you enter the park a little further east.
Where To Eat
Joshua Tree Saloon
Joshua Tree Saloon’s outdoor space, also known as The Yard is a hot spot for live music and outdoor barbecue on the weekends. It’s rustic and free spirited decor is the perfect atmosphere to kick back and relax.
Natural Sisters Cafe
Located just outside the park in the small town of Twentynine Palms and it’s one of my absolute favorite places to eat in the area.
Located in the center of Joshua Tree, this is the perfect spot to grab a quick breakfast or lunch in town, especially while some of the other spots may be overly busy with tourists. They even have boxed lunches for those on-the-go!
Joshua Tree Coffee Co
As coffee snobs, we can confidently say this hit the spot. Their coffee is made with organic beans, and still packs a punch. It’s the perfect spot for a quick morning brew to get up and go.
La Copine is a chic indoor-outdoor in Yucca Valley offering New American cuisine. This road side bistro includes a seasonal menu and dedicated work staff, making it feel like a family diner.
An eclectic and laid-back diner located in the small town of Joshua Tree with traditional diner options plus some unique local options
This Yucca Valley cafe serves sandwiches and salads, plus wine, beer, and kombucha, providing a true array of options. It’s the perfect place to grab a bite after hitting the nearby shops.
Pappy & Harriet’s
This barbecue restaurant and music venue is in Pioneertown, just a short 10 miles from Joshua Tree. The rustic western vibes and american BBQ cuisine make it worth the extra stop on your visit.
Joshua Tree Attractions
CHOLLA CACTUS GARDEN
Located at the merger of the upper Mojave Desert and the lower Colorado Desert, The Cholla Cactus Garden is a must-see place to stop in Joshua Tree National Park for an endless sea of cholla cacti, otherwise known as teddy bear cactus.
Hidden Valley is a small trail loop and park area that is surrounded by boulders and Joshua Trees. It’s the perfect place to enjoy multiple activities like rock climbing, learning about nature, or taking a quick break while inside the park.
Located just across from the Jumbo Rocks Campground, Skull Rock is a popular attraction among visitors. Created from years of raindrops and erosion, this rock formation eventually turned into the shape of a skull, with hollowed eye sockets.
THE 49 PALMS OASIS
The 49 Palms Oasis is a beautiful, secluded, palm-tree-filled oasis in the mountains of Joshua Tree National Park. The palm trees were planted by miners in the early 1900s to mark the location of the natural spring coming out of the rocks.
It’s hard to argue as to why anyone wouldn’t visit Joshua Tree. Not only is it one of the easiest National Parks to get to, it a truly beautiful escape of 800,000 acres. This makes Joshua Tree a true desert wilderness just a few hours outside Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, and Phoenix. This Joshua Tree Travel Guide provides just a snapshot of the information you need to know before visiting, but we encourage you to check out the National Park Service website for additional information on campsites, safety, nature, wildlife and more.