Last Updated on June 10, 2023

Joshua Tree National Park is a United States National Park located in the desert of Southern California. It is named after the characteristic Joshua Tree, a species of tree native to the Mojave desert, which grows extensively in the area and resembles a cactus.

The park actually comprises two distinct desert ecosystems at different altitudes, the Mojave desert and Colorado desert.

Here are a few things to know if you are planning a visit to Joshua Tree National Park:

  1. The best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park is during the cooler months from October to May. Temperatures can be extremely hot during the summer months, making it difficult to enjoy outdoor activities.
  2. There are many activities to enjoy at Joshua Tree National Park, including hiking, rock climbing, stargazing, and birdwatching. The park also has several self-guided driving tours that take you through some of the most popular areas of the park.
  3. There are several options for accommodations near Joshua Tree National Park, including campsites, RV parks, and hotels. The park itself has nine campgrounds, some of which require reservations.
  4. Joshua Tree National Park is located about a two-hour drive from Los Angeles and about a three-hour drive from San Diego. The park can also be reached by public transportation, with bus and shuttle services available from both cities.
  5. Be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen when visiting Joshua Tree National Park, as temperatures can be very hot. It is also a good idea to bring a hat, sunglasses, and comfortable shoes for outdoor activities.

Entrance fee to the park is:

  • $40 Joshua Tree National Park Annual Pass (valid for 12 months)
  • $30 weekly vehicle pass (valid for 7 days)
  • 12$ weekly walk or bicycle pass (valid for 7 days)
Joshua Tree Travel
Joshua Tree National Park

Things to do

Venture into the Hidden Valley

The short trail will take you along a narrow passage bordered on either side by 2 gigantic rock walls until an open valley surrounded by amazing rock formations opens up. You will feel as if you are in front of a big desert and the surrounding hills will look like big mountains.

Explore the Indian Cove Nature Trail

The Indian Cove trail is one of the best places to see the plant that gave the park its name. Its official name is Yucca brevifolia, but it is known as the Joshua Tree.

The 1-mile trail is accessible from the east end and is surrounded by rock formations. Keep an eye out for wildlife, which includes bighorn sheep and desert tortoises.

Watch the sunset at Keys View

Joshua Tree’s highest point, Keys View, offers breathtaking views all day long. A shimmering splendor descends with darkness, and on a clear day, you can gaze out over the Coachella Valley, Palm Springs, and the surrounding peaks stretching all the way to Mexico. But Keys View is at its best at sunset, when bright shades of orange and fiery red fill the sky above the desert.

Walk among huge rocks on the Arch Rock Trail

Millennia of lashing winds and water currents have carved incredible structures into these deserts. One of the most miraculous, Arch Rock, nearly 3 feet tall, is easily accessible via a half-mile trail from White Tank Campground.

Admire the cacti in the Cholla Cactus Garden

Mother Nature’s majesty and creative prowess are evident in this cactus forest. Along this quarter-mile loop you will see one of the densest concentrations of cholla cactus, both beautiful and dangerous.

Rock Climbing at Echo Cove

With more than 8,000 known places to climb and 400 unique formations, it’s no surprise that Joshua Tree is a climber’s paradise. Echo Cove offers several routes, ideal for beginner and experienced climbers alike. If you didn’t bring your own gear with you, you can rent it directly at the park.

Recommended Tours

Joshua Tree National Park, Mojave Desert
Joshua Tree National Park, Mojave Desert

Getting there

By Car

Joshua Tree National Park is located 140 miles east of Los Angeles. It can be reached from the west via Interstate 10 and Hwy 62 (Twentynine Palms Highway). The northern entrances to the park are off Highway 62 at Joshua Tree Village and the town of Twentynine Palms. The south entrance at Cottonwood Spring, located 25 miles east of Indio, can be reached from the east or west via Interstate 10.

By Train

Palm Springs is the closest city with an Amtrak station; it is served by the Sunset Limited Los Angeles – New Orleans line.

By plane

Palm Springs International Airport and Ontario International Airport are the closest airports to the park. From there you will need to rent a car to get to the park as there are limited or no public transportation options to the park.

By private tour

Joshua Tree National Park Driving Guided Tour from Palm Springs

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