PeaceJoyAustin

Cheap, free, and local-endorsed things to do in beautiful places

Joshua Tree National Park

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  • Beautiful desert landscape
  • Dense population of joshua trees, yuccas, and rock formations
  • Excellent climbing, hiking, and camping

When To Visit: October-May to avoid the extreme heat of summer

Climate: Dry. Very hot in summer, hot in spring & fall, warm in winter.

Location: Southern California north of Palm Springs

Just two hours east of Los Angeles, this park offers some of the best scenery in the California deserts. You can hike to oases or peaks, stroll through cacti gardens or boulder piles, and lay back and stargaze when the sun goes down.

Photo: Hi View Trail

What To See & Do in Joshua Tree

While a drive through the park roads is a must, Joshua Tree is best experienced by getting out of the car to take walks and hikes. Unlike most national parks, most of Joshua Tree’s most beautiful spots only require a quick, easy walk. Bring plenty of water and be careful to avoid exhaustion or dehydration if you attempt a hike on a hot day. Here are the most scenic trails to follow, ranked in order of beauty:

Joshua Tree Short Walks

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Hidden Valley
  1. Hidden Valley

    • 1 mile loop, 30 mins, easy
    • A beautiful valley blanketed with thousands of rocks.
  2. Skull Rock

    • 1.7 mile loop, 30 mins-1 hour, easy
    • Explore this scarily-shaped rock and the surrounding desert landscape. If short on time, you can see the rock from the road.
  3. Cholla Cactus Garden

    • 0.25 mile loop, 15-30 mins, easy
    • A dense grove of these beautiful cacti
  4. Keys View
    • 0.25 mile loop, 15-30 mins, easy
    • A panoramic view of the Coachella Valley and the San Andreas Fault
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Cholla Cactus Garden

Joshua Tree Hikes

  1. 49 Palms Oasis Trail

    • 3 miles round trip, out & back, 2-2.5 hours, moderately strenuous
    • This trail takes you to an incredible oasis with palm trees and a water hole
    • The entire journey is scenic as you follow rock formations and cacti
  2. Lost Palms Oasis Trail

    • 7.5 miles round trip, out & back, 4-5 hours, moderately strenuous
    • A beautiful quiet corner of the park
    • Another epic oasis with a large grove of palms surrounded by open desert
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Lost Palms Oasis

Where To Stay & Eat in Joshua Tree

There are no food services or lodging in the park, but the cities of Twentynine Palms and Joshua Tree, with dozens of hotels and restaurants, are just north of the park.

The park has eight picnic areas if you would like to bring food into the park.

There are nine campgrounds in the park, most of which are first-come, first-served. Click here for details.

Nearby Side Trips from Joshua Tree

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Kelso Dunes at Mojave National Preserve

Mojave National Preserve – An hour north of Joshua Tree lies this impressive and under-the-radar park with the densest joshua tree forest in the world, the 3rd tallest sand dunes in the country, and gorgeous desert landscape. Read more.

Los Angeles: The largest city in the West only 2 hours away is so much more than the entertainment capital of the world. Explore its plethora of neighborhoods and find hidden treasures like the tucked away canals of Venice and the secret stairs of Silver Lake.  Read more.

Palm Springs – The Coachella Valley’s resort cities are less than an hour from the park. Visit a spa or pool, play a round of golf, or check out Downtown Palm Springs’ own version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

 

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