In 2022, I was able to check a lot of new National Parks off of my list, Joshua Tree being one of them! This park definitely isn't one of my favorites, purely because I like parks with overlooks and long elevation hikes best, but it was a nice day trip, and we were able to see a lot. What is nice about this park, is there's a little bit of something for everybody! As I stated, we only spent a day here so I'm going to walk you through my one-day guide for seeing as much of the park as we could!
I went to Joshua tree in early March so even though we were in California, it was definitely a bit on the chillier side, and for some reason was extremely windy the day we went which made it even colder! Before heading out to the park, I read somewhere that the most efficient way to see the park in one day coming from where we were was to start closer to the east end of the park, and drive through it backwards towards the other entrance. We were coming from Los Angeles, so we drove to the twenty nine palms entrance and made our way west. There are three entrances at this park though so there are a couple of options depending on what area you are coming from! If you're coming from Los Angeles, or anywhere over in that direction, I definitely recommend starting at the twenty nine palms entrance and working your way backwards, I felt like we were able to see a lot of the park this way.
After entering the park, we made our first stop at Arch Rock Nature Trail where we spent time exploring the jumbo rock trails down below and taking time on the arch.
Our next stop was to Skull Rock. This is an extremely popular area in the park, so expect crowds here! The main attraction is a giant rock shaped like a skull, which was really neat to see! Despite it being crowded, everybody was very patient and respectful when it came to taking turns to take pictures. After seeing the rock, we walked around this area a bit to take in the desert like scenery and the views that came with it!
After leaving Skull Rock, we drove a bit to Ryan Mountain. My brother and I both really enjoy hiking, and this is one of the only elevation hikes in the park, so we definitely wanted to take advantage of it! The hike is only a little over 3-miles round trip, but it certainly was not an easy hike. We are both pretty avid hikers, however, with the elevation gain, the terrible wind, and our east coast lungs, we definitely had to take a few breaks along the way. The total elevation was 5,457 feet, and the views from the top certainly were worth the trip up! However, it was extremely cold and windy at the top which we were not prepared for, as you can tell by me wearing short sleeves, so we didn't spend much time at the top, and headed back down after a few pictures.
After our hike, we wanted to spend some time just driving through the park and stopping along the way to look at all of the Joshua Trees and beautiful, vast, desert scenery.
We headed to our last spot at the park, which we were able to drive to the top of: Key's View. Key's Point is the highest viewpoint in the whole park at 5,185 feet and it oversees mesas, mountains, and Coachella Valley (Home of the well known musical festival-Coachella). We spent some time exploring around the top, but after a while decided it was too cold to stay any longer, and took the 2-hour drive back to Los Angeles.
I was very satisfied with the amount we were able to see while in Joshua Tree National Park, the only thing we weren't able to get to that we both wanted to see was the Cholla Cactus Garden because it was more on the southern end of the park. Joshua Tree is also a great spot to see the stars at night, but unfortunately we weren't able to stick along long enough for that either.
Overall, this park definitely wasn't one of my favorites, but it was still a really cool park to visit! Thanks for reading, and as always, there's always more to be explored!