Joshua Tree National Park, a great place for hiking, photography, sight seeing, star gazing, camping, etc! This National Park located in southern California has a little bit of something for everybody. Here is a full breakdown of what you need to know before visiting the park!
6554 Park Blvd.
Joshua Tree, CA 92252
Hours: Joshua Tree National Park is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays!
Weather: Joshua Tree has a fairly large elevation range throughout the park, which means weather is pretty much never consistent. Because Joshua Tree is a desert, it can get very hot during the summer time, with average temperatures in the high 90's low 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Joshua Tree typically doesn't drop below low 50's though, even in the winter. Before visiting the park, have an idea of which parts of the park you plan on visiting and pack accordingly, obviously the parts of the park with higher elevation will be cooler no matter what time of year.
Private Vehicle: $30.00 (Valid for 7 days)
Per Person (bicyclists, hikers, pedestrians without a car, etc.): $15.00 (Valid for 7 days)
Joshua Tree Annual Pass: $55.00
America the Beautiful Annual Pass: $80.00 (Good for all National Parks for an entire year)
Military Pass: Free Annual Pass to all National Parks for Active Duty Military, US Military Veterans, and Gold Star Family Members
4th Grade Pass: Free pass for 4th Graders for duration of school year
Senior Park Pass (62+): $20 Annual Pass to any National Park or $80 Lifetime Membership
Access Pass: Free Lifetime Pass to any National Park for US Citizens with permanent disabilities
Volunteer Pass: Free Annual Pass to any National Park for volunteers with 250 service hours with federal agencies (agencies must participate in Interagency Pass Program)
As with most National Parks, there are a few free entry days throughout the year: MLK Day, First day of National Park Week (3rd Saturday in April), Great American Outdoors Signing Act Day (August 4th), National Public Lands Day (4th Saturday in September) and Veteran's Day (November 11th)
Leashed pets are allowed throughout several parts of the park including within 100 ft of the road, picnic areas, and campgrounds. However, pets are not permitted on hiking trails, backcountry areas or in park buildings, including visitor's centers.
Parking and Getting Around:
Joshua Tree is a fairly busy park, no matter what time of year, or day of the week. As with any park, arrive early to avoid some of the crowds. There are various parking areas throughout the park, and some of the lots fill up fast, as they are on the smaller side. A lot of the attractions throughout the park offer road parking as well. If you are planning on seeing a lot of Joshua Tree at one time, it definitely requires a lot of driving.
In my opinion, the two best viewpoints in the park are Ryan Mountain and Key's View. Ryan Mountain requires a little over a 3-mile moderate hike to the viewpoint. However, Key's View, the highest point in the park is accessible by car.
Joshua Tree offers an abundance of hiking / nature walk trails for people of all hiking skill abilities. Visit the national park website (nps.gov) for a full description of each!
Arch Rock Trail (1.4 miles, approx. 1 hour)
Bajada (.25 miles, approx. 15-20 mins)
Barker Dam (1.1 miles, approx. 1 hour)
Cap Rock (.4 miles, approx. 30-45 minutes)
Cholla Cactus Garden (.25 miles, approx. 15-30 mins)
Cottonwood Spring (.1 mile, approx. 10 minutes)
Discovery Trail (.7 miles, approx. 35-45 minutes)
Hidden Valley (1 mile, approx. 1 hour)
Indian Cove (.6 miles, approx. 30-45 mins)
Key's View (.25 miles, approx. 30 mins)
Oasis of Mara (.5 miles, 30-45 mins)
Ryan Ranch (1 mile, approx. 1 hour)
Skull Rock (1.7 miles, approx. 1-2 hours)
Hi-view (1.3 miles, approx. 1.5 hours)
Lost Horse Mine (4 miles, approx. 2-3 hours)
Mastodon Peak (3-miles, approx. 1.5-2.5 hours)
Pine City (4 miles, approx. 2-3 hours)
Split Rock Loop (2.5 miles, approx. 1.5-2.5 miles)
West Side Loop (4.7 miles, approx. 2.5-4 hours)
Boy Scout Trail (8 miles, approx. 6 hours)
California Riding and Hiking Trail (35 miles, 2-3 days to hike the entirety)
Forty-nine Palms Oasis (3-miles, approx. 2-3 hours)
Lost Horse Loop (6.5 miles, approx. 3-4 hours)
Lost Palms Oasis (7.5 miles, approx. 5-6 hours)
Panorama Loop (6.6 miles, approx. 3.5-4.5 hours)
Ryan Mountain (3 miles, approx. 1.5-2.5 hours)
Warren Peak (6.3 miles, approx. 3-4.5 hours)
Willow Hole (7.2 miles, approx. 4 hours)
Joshua Tree has a whopping 500 campsites throughout the park that are available for reservations. Camp site reservations can be made same day to up to 6 months in advance. There are five different camping areas ranging from $20-$25 / night: Black Rock, Cottonwood, Indian Cove, Jumbo Rocks, and Ryan.
Stargazing: Joshua Tree National Park is unique in that its an International Certified Dark Night Spot meaning it has some of the best stargazing in the world! With very little light in this area at night time, it makes it the perfect place to see an abundance of stars, constellations, planets, and even the Milky Way! You can view these from a lot of the campsites. A tip is to go on a night when the moon isn't as full, the more moonlight there is, the less stars you'll be able to see, but regardless, it is still such an amazing experience!
I hope you enjoyed reading about Joshua Tree National Park! Feel free to leave a comment with anything you would like to add, or if I left something out. As always, please practice the LNT principles when visiting the National Parks :) Thanks for reading, and remember, there's always more to be explored!
*Information provided from personal experience, as well as nps.gov , more information about Joshua Tree National Park can be found at https://www.nps.gov/jotr/index.htm
Map of Joshua Tree National Park: https://www.nps.gov/npgallery/GetAsset/ea25e28b-aa66-41a1-93eb-f9801fdab78a