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Joshua Tree Camping (Epic Guide) 12 Campgrounds, 10 Hikes, 8 Attractions

Posted in: Where to Camp, Where to Hike

Thinking about a camping trip to Joshua Tree? In this epic guide, you'll learn about Joshua Tree camping, hiking, campgrounds, attractions, weather, when to visit, and much more. Plus, lots of photos and videos of Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua Tree Camping sign

Entrance sign to Joshua Tree National Park

Table of Contents

Joshua Tree Camping (Visitors Guide)

With 12 campgrounds to choose from, Joshua Tree is a great choice for a camping trip. There are countless hikes and attractions for all skill levels.

In this guide, you'll find everything you need to plan a successful camping trip to Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua Tree camping

Map of Joshua Tree National Park

9 Campgrounds Inside Joshua Tree

1. Hidden Valley Campground

  • Dates: Open Year Round
  • Number of Sites: 44 campsites
  • Elevation: 4,200 feet
  • Reservation System: First-Come-First-Served
  • Cost per night: $15/Night
  • Features: Pit toilets, tables, fire grates
  • Accessible sites: No
  • Distance from the town of Joshua Tree: 14 miles
  • More info: Hidden Valley Campground

Open to both RVs and tents, Hidden Valley Campground is Joshua Tree’s most popular campground.

All 44 campsites are spread among the scenic setting of Joshua trees and huge rock formations. It’s the closest campground to the park’s West Entrance and is also conveniently located near popular rock climbing sites and day hikes.

Because of all these perks, you can understand why this campground is always busy. If you want to camp here, your best bet is to arrive early in the week.

2. White Tank Campground

  • Dates: Open Year Round
  • Number of Sites: 15 campsites
  • Elevation: 3,800 feet
  • Reservation System: First-Come-First-Served
  • Cost per night: $15/Night
  • Features: Pit toilets, tables, fire grates
  • Accessible sites: No
  • Distance from the town of Joshua Tree: 27 miles
  • More info: White Tank Campground

For a campground with more space, privacy and solitude, White Tank is a great option.

It’s located next to Arch Rock on the east side of the park and features 15 campsites that are well spaced for privacy among Joshua trees and scrambling rocks.

This is also a good spot to enjoy stargazing. To get a site here, it’s best to arrive between 9 and 10 am when others are just leaving.

Stargazing Joshua Tree

3. Belle Campground

  • Dates: Open Year Round
  • Number of Sites: 18 campsites
  • Elevation: 3,800 feet
  • Reservation System: First-Come-First-Served
  • Cost per night: $15/Night
  • Features: Pit toilets, tables, fire grates
  • Accessible sites: No
  • Distance from the town of Joshua Tree: 26 miles
  • More info: Belle Campground

If you can’t get a campsite at White Tank, just go down the road to the Belle Campground where you’ll find a tranquil setting of 18 campsites that are all spread out among Joshua trees and large boulders.

You’ll enjoy the quiet, remote atmosphere here. Plus, the campground is within easy reach of the main road and popular attractions like Skull Rock.

4. Jumbo Rocks Campground

  • Dates: Open Year Round
  • Number of Sites: 124 campsites
  • Elevation: 4,400 feet
  • Reservation System: Online Reservations required
  • Cost per night: $15/Night
  • Features: Pit toilets, tables, fire grates,
  • Accessible sites: Yes
  • Distance from the town of Joshua Tree: 28 miles
  • More info: Jumbo Rocks Campground

If other campgrounds are full, Jumbo Rocks may be your best bet for Joshua Tree camping because it’s the largest campground in the park, featuring 124 campsites.

It’s centrally located within the national park and offers a mix of sites that vary in size from small tents to 32-foot RVs. It’s also one of the two Joshua Tree campgrounds that offer accessible campsites. (The other is Black Rock.)

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It may not be as quiet and private as some of the other campgrounds, but what’s really nice about Jumbo Rocks is that it’s set among large boulders and towering rock formations that reflect the golden evening sun.

It should be noted that reservations are required here during the busy season (October to May).

5. Ryan Campground

  • Dates: Open Year Round
  • Number of Sites: 31 campsites
  • Elevation: 4,300 feet
  • Reservation System: First-Come-First-Served
  • Cost per night: $15/Night
  • Features: Pit toilets, tables, fire grates
  • Accessible sites: No
  • Distance from the town of Joshua Tree: 16.6 miles
  • More info: Ryan Campground

If you’re bringing your horse with you to Joshua Tree, Ryan Campground offers four equestrian sites (that require reservations) along with 31 spacious campsites. This is also a good spot to camp if you prefer to be in the western end of the park.

6. Indian Cove Campground

  • Dates: Open Year Round
  • Number of Sites: 101 campsites
  • Elevation: 3,200 feet
  • Reservation System: Online Reservations required
  • Cost per night: $20/Night for basic or $35 to $50/Night for group sites
  • Features: Vaulted toilets, tables, fire grates, group sites
  • Accessible sites: No
  • Distance from the town of Joshua Tree: 13 miles
  • More info: Indian Cove Campground

Indian Cove is not inside the main section of the park but is accessed outside the entrance gates from Highway 62 near Twentynine Palms.

It’s at a lower elevation and features a more barren landscape with small trees and boulders. There are 101 campsites here including 13 group sites with vaulted toilets, picnic tables and fire grates.

RVs are welcome, but there are no RV hookups. Reservations are required during the busy season (October to May.)

Joshua Tree campgrounds

7. Cottonwood Campground

  • Dates: Open Year Round
  • Number of Sites: 62 campsites
  • Elevation: 3,000 feet
  • Reservation System: Online Reservations required
  • Cost per night: $20/Night for basic or $35 to $40/Night for group sites
  • Features: Water, flush toilets, tables, fire grates, dump station, group sites
  • Accessible sites: No
  • Distance from the town of Joshua Tree: 55 miles
  • More info: Cottonwood Campground

Just down from the Cottonwood Visitor Center, Cottonwood Campground is on the southeast side of Joshua Tree National Park, somewhat removed from the rest of the park.

It’s not near any of the main attractions, but it’s close to Interstate 10. It’s also one of the few campgrounds in Joshua Tree with flush toilets and potable water.

This campground is a good option for large groups and RVs. You’ll need to make reservations here during the busy season.

8. Black Rock Campground

  • Dates: Open Year Round
  • Number of Sites: 99 campsites
  • Elevation: 4,000 feet
  • Reservation System: On-line Reservations required
  • Cost per night: $20/Night
  • Features: Water, flush toilets, tables, fire grates, dump station and cell phone reception
  • Accessible sites: Yes
  • Distance from the town of Joshua Tree: 8.6 miles
  • More info: Black Rock Campground

Located in the northwestern part of the park, Black Rock Campground is accessed from Highway 62. It is a large campground of 100 campsites and is convenient to shopping just five miles away in Yucca Valley.

You’ll find it to be one of the most scenic sites of Joshua Tree camping with plenty of Joshua trees and various bird species. Black Rock offers accessible sites and may also be one of the few places in the park where you can pick up cell phone reception.

This campground accommodates RVs and horses and features flush toilets, potable water, fire rings and picnic tables. Reservations are required for equestrian sites throughout the year and during the busy season (October to May) for campsites.

9. Sheep Pass Campground

  • Dates: Open Year Round
  • Number of Sites: 6 group sites
  • Elevation: 4,500 feet
  • Reservation System:
  • Cost per night: $35-50/Night depending on site capacity
  • Features: Toilets and picnic tables
  • Accessible sites: No
  • Distance from the town of Joshua Tree: 18.5 miles
  • More info: Sheep Pass Group Campground

Centrally located in Joshua Tree National Park and to nearby popular attractions and hiking trails, Sheep Pass targets group camping and features six group campsites that can accommodate between 10 and 60 people.

These sites can be reserved up to a year in advance. You’ll appreciate the scenery here of Joshua trees and amazing rock formations. It’s also a good spot for stargazing.

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3 Campgrounds Outside of Joshua Tree

1. Sportsman’s Lodge and Camp Grounds

  • Dates: Open Year Round
  • Number of Sites: 74
  • Reservation System: Contact website for available dates and pricing
  • Cost per night: $35/Night
  • Features: Bathroom and shower facilities, banquet hall, RV hook-ups, sites with water, electricity and sewer
  • Accessible sites: Yes
  • Distance from Joshua Tree National Park: 6 miles
  • More info: Sportsman's Lodge and Camp Grounds

If you can’t find any Joshua Tree camping sites available inside the national park, or if you prefer to camp somewhere with more amenities, the Sportsman’s Lodge and Campgrounds is a great option.

Located in the town of Joshua Tree just six miles outside of the West Entrance of Joshua Tree National Park, this campground offers 74 campsites (58 with full hook-ups, 16 with electric and water only, and 30 with amp service, water and sewer).

This large complex features on-site bathroom and shower facilities and a 4,000-square foot meeting room and banquet hall that includes a kitchen and restroom. You may also enjoy attending the campground’s Sunday afternoon bingo or the annual Gem and Mineral Show.

2. Twentynine Palms RV Resort

  • Dates: Open Year Round
  • Number of Sites: 168 RV sites and 26 cottages
  • Reservation System: Reservations required by phone or email
  • Cost per night: $42/Night for RV. $30/Night for Tent. Contact for cottage rates.
  • Features: Golf course, tennis courts, fitness center, indoor pool, hot tub, sauna, laundry facilities
  • Accessible sites: Yes
  • Distance from Joshua Tree National Park: 2 miles
  • More info: Twentynine Palms RV Resort

Just two miles outside of Joshua Tree National Park, this deluxe RV Park offers 168 RV sites with full hookups as well as 26 cottages with both short and long term rates. This resort also features a golf course, tennis courts, a fitness center, an indoor pool, hot tub and sauna as well as laundry facilities.

Reservations should be made in advance by contacting the phone number or email address listed on the website. A $50.00 electricity deposit is also required at check-in.

3. Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground

  • Dates: Open Year Round
  • Number of Sites: 44
  • Reservation System: Reservations needed for RVs with hookups. Otherwise, first-come-first served
  • Cost per night: $25/Night without RV hookups. $35 to $40/Night with electric hookups
  • Features: Toilets, hot showers, children’s playground, picnic area, dump station, wireless Internet
  • Accessible sites: No
  • Distance from Joshua Tree National Park: 14 miles
  • More info: Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground

A nice RV campground 14 miles outside of Joshua Tree National Park, Joshua Tree Lake offers beautiful desert scenery and a nearby lake with loads of amenities that include toilets and hot showers, wireless Internet (with fee), a picnic area, children’s playground and dump station.

You can also enjoy recreational activities here like fishing, stargazing events and music festivals.

Reservations can be made online for RVs with water and electricity hookups. Tent camping and RVs without hookups are on a first-come-first-served basis.

Rusty car in Joshua Tree National Park

Rusty car in Joshua Tree National Park

8 Local Attractions in Joshua Tree

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1. Hidden Valley

  • Type of attraction: Nature Trail and Day Use Area
  • Distance from Joshua Tree Visitor Center: 14 miles
  • Cost: Free with park entrance fee
  • What you’ll see/do: Great Burrito monolith, picnic area, nature trail
  • More info: Hidden Valley Trail

Once used by cattle rustlers as an area to hide cattle, Hidden Valley today is one of the most visited areas of Joshua Tree National Park.

It features a one-mile trail that leads into a bowl-shaped area surrounded by rock walls. You’ll find here the giant monolith known as the Great Burrito, a hot spot for rock climbers.

It’s also a nice place to just walk around and enjoy the scenic beauty or enjoy a picnic.

2. Keys View

  • Type of attraction: Look out point
  • Distance from Joshua Tree Visitor Center: 21 miles
  • Cost: Free with park entrance fee
  • What you’ll see/do: Scenic views of Coachella Valley and beyond
  • More info: Keys View

At an elevation of more than 5,000 feet, Keys View is well worth the 20-minute drive up to see the panoramic views sweeping out over the Coachella Valley, Palm Springs, the Salton Sea, and the San Andreas Fault.

On a clear day, you can even see all the way to Mexico. Keys View is also a refreshing, cool spot to be on a hot summer day.

3. Barker Dam Nature Trail

  • Type of attraction: Historic site and nature trail
  • Distance from Joshua Tree Visitor Center: 15.5 miles
  • Cost: Free with park entrance fee
  • What you’ll see/do: Historic dam and nature trail with rock formations and petroglyphs
  • More info: Barker Dam Loop

Barker Dam is one of the most visited sites in the park. It’s named for a historic dam from the early 1900s of which you see the remnants.

In the spring when there’s water present, you’ll have a good chance of seeing wildlife here such as bighorn sheep and various birds. There’s also a 1.5-mile family-friendly trail here that leads around strange rock formations and Native American petroglyphs.

4. Wall Street Mill

  • Type of attraction: Historic site and nature trail
  • Distance from Joshua Tree Visitor Center: 15.9 miles
  • Cost: Free with park entrance fee
  • What you’ll see/do: Antique cars and historic gold ore mill
  • More info: Wall Street Mill

Wall Street Mill Trail Joshua Tree

Before you leave the parking lot at Barker Dam, you might as well take the nearby 2-mile trail to Wall Street Mill. Along the short hike, you’ll see an old windmill, the remains of an old water pump and reservoir, and several abandoned antique cars that present cool photo opportunities.

Once you reach the historic site, you’ll see some ruined buildings and the well-preserved mill that once processed gold ore. You can read several plaques around the site to get a good history lesson of both the mill and the park.

5. Cholla Cactus Garden

  • Type of attraction: Nature Attraction
  • Distance from Joshua Tree Visitor Center: 36 miles
  • Cost: Free with park entrance fee
  • What you’ll see/do: Thousands of Cholla cacti plants
  • More info: Cholla Cactus Garden

Nature and garden lovers will enjoy a stroll through the 0.25-mile Cholla Cactus Garden.

Located on the Pinto Basin Road, nearby the Joshua Tree camping sites of Belle and White Tank campgrounds, this nature attraction features thousands of cholla cactus plants which are known for their fuzzy spines that look golden in the sunlight.

You can walk around the chollas and get a close look at them, but you should take care not to get too close because the prickly spines can stick in you and hurt. If this should happen, there is a first aid kit posted at the entrance. This is also a good place to see beautiful sunrises in the park.

6. Skull Rock

  • Type of attraction: Natural rock formation
  • Distance from Joshua Tree Visitor Center: 27 miles
  • Cost: Free with park entrance fee
  • What you’ll see/do: Huge skull-shaped rock and short hiking trail
  • More info: Skull Rock

Skull Rock Joshua Tree

You can’t go to Joshua Tree National Park and not see Skull Rock, one of the park’s most iconic attractions. You’ll find it right beside the main road near the Jumbo Rocks campground.

It’s a huge granite boulder, but it resembles a giant human skull with eye sockets which were created by erosion. There are lots of rock piles all around Skull Rock if you’re up for rock scrambling. Right across the road is the start of a 1.7-mile hiking trail that leads along rocks, shrubs and a few Joshua trees.

After Skull Rock, there are several other interesting rock formations you may want to see such as Arch Rock, Heart Rock, Split Rock, Cap Rock, and Penguin Rock.

Things to do in Joshua Tree

Arch Rock, Joshua Tree

7. Key Desert Queen Ranch

  • Type of attraction: Historic site
  • Distance from Joshua Tree Visitor Center: 16 miles
  • Cost: $10
  • What you’ll see/do: Historic ranch settlement
  • More info: Key Desert Queen Ranch

If you’re a history buff, you may be interested in taking a guided tour of the Keys Desert Queen Ranch. This is the well-preserved homestead of ranch owner, William F. Keys, who first settled this land during the 1910s. The guided tour takes about 90 minutes, and you’ll get to see the house, several other buildings, and old machinery and artifacts.

You’ll need to purchase a $10 ticket from the Oasis Visitors Center in Twentynine Palms as early as you can in the morning because tickets sell out fast. Afterward, you’ll need to make sure you are at the ranch within 15 minutes before the tour begins.

8. Geology Motor Tour

  • Type of attraction: Scenic 4WD drive
  • Distance from Joshua Tree Visitor Center: 21 miles
  • Cost: Free with park entrance fee
  • What you’ll see/do: Off-the-beaten track landscapes
  • More info: Geology Motor Tour

The 18-mile Geology Motor Tour is an excellent way to get away from the crowds and see some of the park’s amazing desert landscapes and dazzling rock formations.

Two-wheel-drive vehicles can only go up to the gate and after that, only 4-wheel-drive vehicles are allowed because of the challenging terrain. You can also explore this tour by mountain bike.

Joshua Tree hiking


10 Best Joshua Tree Hikes

Best time of year: Fall/Winter/Spring

Things to remember: Avoid hiking during the summer during extremely hot temperatures. If you do hike during the summer, make sure it’s really early in the morning or late evening when temperatures are cooler.

1. Hidden Valley

  • Distance: 1-mile loop
  • Skill level: Easy
  • Features: Picnic area, rock climbing opportunities
  • What you’ll see: Rock climbers and massive boulders including the Great Burrito

If you’re exploring Joshua Tree National Park with your kids or prefer an easy hike, Hidden Valley is perfect for you. You can access the trailhead from the Hidden Valley picnic area which is located right off the main road (Park Blvd) about 12 miles southeast of the West Entrance.

The one-mile loop is well groomed and one of the most popular trails in the park. It leads into a bowl-shaped valley surrounded by massive boulders.

Check out this set of 38 day and overnight hikes in Joshua Tree

Once you see it, you’ll understand why cattle rustlers once used it as a hideout. You can easily spend hours here exploring rock formations or watching rock climbers hugging the giant monolith known as the Great Burrito.

2. Barker Dam

  • Distance: 1-mile loop
  • Skill level: Easy
  • Features: Parking lot and bathroom
  • What you’ll see: Historic dam, wildlife, rocky outcrops and Native American petroglyphs

If you only have time for one short hike, check out the Barker Dam trail where you have the chance to see both wildlife and historic structures. At the trailhead parking lot is a bathroom in case you need to make a pit stop before beginning your hike.

The trail winds through rocky outcrops before coming to the historic remnants of a water tank left by early cattle ranchers. If you visit after a good rainfall or during the spring, you may see water here. This is also a popular spot for various bird species and bighorn sheep, so keep your eye out.

Barker Dam Nature Trail

From the dam, the trail leads into the open desert where you can check out unique plants.

Before you come to the end of the loop, don’t miss the sign that leads you to some rocks with Native American petroglyphs.

3. Lost Horse Mine

  • Distance: 4-mile loop
  • Skill level: Moderate to Hard
  • Features: Old wagon trail that inclines most of the way
  • What you’ll see: Wildflowers, Joshua trees, historic gold mine, panoramic views

For a bit of a challenge, the 4-mile loop of the Lost Horse Mine trail is a nice option. Located off Keys View Road, this winding trail is the same path that wagons once traveled to and from an old gold mine. If hiking in the spring, you may see wildflowers along the way.

This hike features a gradual incline most of the way to the gold mine, so you shouldn’t attempt it during the hot summer. Once you reach the enclosed mine, you can take a breather and explore around the old structures.

Just off the main trail, you can walk a little further up the hill to Lost Horse Mountain where you’ll be rewarded with fantastic views of the entire park.

4. Wonderland of Rocks

  • Distance: 7 miles
  • Skill level: Moderate
  • Features: Washes and rock formations
  • What you’ll see: Ranch ruins, prehistoric bedrock mortars, Astro Dome rock and whale rock

This moderate 7-mile hike is well worth your time, it's a lengthy maze of washes and distinctive rock formations that are popular among rock climbers. You can begin at the trailhead near Wall Street Mill which is located right off Park Boulevard just a mile north of the intersection with Keys View Road.

Along the trail, you’ll see interesting landmarks like the pink, crumbling ruins of Wonderland Ranch, a prominent rock formation known as the Astro Dome, and another large boulder that looks like a whale.

You can also check out bedrock mortars scattered throughout the area which are holes in rocks that were once used by the early Pinto civilization for grinding grain and seeds for food preparation.

5. Ryan Mountain

  • Distance: 3 miles
  • Skill level: Moderate to Hard
  • Features: Dirt path, wide stone steps, and a steep climb at an elevation of 1,000 feet
  • What you’ll see: Variety of trees, flowers, cacti, boulders and 360-degree views

Found right in the heart of the park, the Ryan Mountain trailhead begins near the Joshua Tree camping areas of Sheep Pass and Ryan campground. It’s just three miles, but it’s a pretty steep climb. However, it’s one of the most popular hikes because it offers epic 360-views from the top.

The trail is well-maintained and quickly climbs to an elevation of just over a 1,000 feet. A dirt path and rough-hewn stone steps lead your way among a variety of trees, flowers, cacti and rock formations. The higher you climb, the more dramatic the scenery changes.

Once you reach the summit, you’ll see a rock pile that you can climb up on for a full 360-degree view over the area. This is a great spot for sunset views also, but just be sure to bring a headlamp for your descent back down to the base.

6. Warren Peak

  • Distance: 6 miles
  • Skill level: Hard
  • Features: Steep climb
  • What you’ll see: Joshua trees and incredible mountain views

If you’re fairly fit and want a hike that offers you a good workout plus a big payoff, Warren Peak is for you.

The trailhead to this 6-mile hike begins next to the Black Rock campground in the northwestern corner of Joshua Tree. It’s somewhat removed from the rest of the park, so it makes for a more quiet hike. Along the 3-hour climb, you’ll see Joshua trees and massive slabs of gray and black gneiss rocks.

At the 5,100-foot peak, you’ll be in awe of the breathtaking views of Southern California’s Mount San Gorgonio and Mount San Jacinto.

7. Mastodon Peak

  • Distance: 3 miles
  • Skill level: Moderate
  • Features: Rock scrambles and a granite peak
  • What you’ll see: An old gold mine and sweeping views of the park

If you want a nice, moderate hike with stunning views but don’t want to take on the strenuous efforts of Warren Peak, you might consider the Mastodon Peak hike. Located in the southern part of Joshua Tree National Park, this three-mile hike is a casual ascent with views of Joshua trees and the park as you climb.

At the top of the craggy granite peak, you’ll find a rock scramble that you can climb onto to enjoy rewarding views over the park. On your way back down, the trail leads you around an old gold mine that you can amble around and check out.

8. Maze Loop

  • Distance: 4.7 miles
  • Skill level: Moderate
  • Features: Easy, flat and quiet trail
  • What you’ll see: Joshua trees, strange rock formations, slot canyons, birds

Accessed near Twentynine Palms, the Maze Loop trail is an easy, mostly flat hike that meanders through Joshua tree forests, desert washes, bizarre rock formations and slot canyons.

It’s known for tranquility, scenic beauty and bird watching.

9. Boy Scout Trail

  • Distance: 7.8 miles
  • Skill level: Moderate
  • Features: One-way trail
  • What you’ll see: Joshua trees, canyons, wildflowers, mountains, Wonderland of Rocks

A moderate to hard hike, the Boy Scout Trail gives you a buffet of everything that Joshua Tree National Park offers, from Joshua trees forests to desert scenes, canyons and high plateaus with views of wildflowers and mountains.

The trail also runs through the Wonderland of Rocks as well. Many hikers begin at the south trailhead near the West Entrance and finish at the north trailhead at Indian Cove.

10. Willow Hole

  • Distance: 7.2 miles
  • Skill level: Moderate
  • Features: Sandy washes and plenty of vegetation
  • What you’ll see: Joshua trees, wildlife (birds, frogs, bighorn sheep), Wonderland of Rocks

It’s called the Willow Hole because this trail ends at willow trees overlooking a waterhole. The area is a good place to spot a variety of plants and wildlife like birds, frogs and bighorn sheep.

The trail begins along the south end of the Boy Scout Trail and winds through sandy washes, Joshua trees and other mixed desert vegetation, and leading deep into the Wonderland of Rocks before ending at the willow trees.

More reading: How to Make Campfire S'mores: Classic Plus 6 Variations


When to Visit Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is considered a year-round destination because you can camp and explore the park during any month and have fun.

The most popular time to visit is between the months of October and May when temperatures are the most comfortable.

Spring and fall provide comfortable temperatures with an average high/low of 85 and 50 °F (29 and 10 °C). Summers can get really hot with temperatures reaching above 100 °F (38 °C) during the day and cooling off to only around 75 °F (24 °C) at night. Winter features clear skies and chilly days around 60 °F (16 °C) with nights dropping down to the freezing mark.

To help you brave the cold, don't forget to bring a tent heater.

The park usually experiences minimal rainfall and snowfall, but strong winds and heavy thunderstorms can suddenly occur, so it’s best to always come prepared for the unexpected.

Here are some suggested times to visit depending on activities:

  • Best weather: October through May
  • Best for seeing wildflowers and wildlife: Spring (March through May)
  • Best for hiking and rock climbing: Fall, winter and spring (October through May)
  • Best for stargazing: Summer (June through September)
  • Best for avoiding crowds: Summer (Avoid hiking and rock climbing during this time due to extremely hot temperatures)

Joshua Tree weather

Joshua Tree Weather: Monthly Averages

January Weather in Joshua Tree

  • Average high/low temperature: 62° / 38° F (17° / 3.3° C)
  • Average rainfall: 0.62 inches

February Weather in Joshua Tree

  • Average high/low temperature: 64° / 40° F (16° / 3.1° C)
  • Average rainfall: 0.48 inches

March Weather in Joshua Tree

  • Average high/low temperature: 71° / 44° F (21°/ 5° C)
  • Average rainfall: 0.39 in.

April Weather in Joshua Tree

  • Average high/low temperature: 76° / 48° F ( 25°/ 8° C)
  • Average rainfall: 0.13 inches

May Weather in Joshua Tree

  • Average high/low temperature: 85° / 55° F (30°/ 12° C)
  • Average rainfall: 0.17 inches

June Weather in Joshua Tree

  • Average high/low temperature: 95° / 64° F (34°/ 16° C)
  • Average rainfall: 0.01 inches

July Weather in Joshua Tree

  • Average high/low temperature: 101° / 71° F ( 38°/ 22° C)
  • Average rainfall: 0.33 in.

August Weather in Joshua Tree

  • Average high/low temperature: 100° / 70° F ( 38°/ 21° C)
  • Average rainfall: 0.50 inches

September Weather in Joshua Tree

  • Average high/low temperature: 95°/ 64° F (35°/19° C)
  • Average rainfall: 0.33 inches

October Weather in Joshua Tree

  • Average high/low temperature: 81° / 52° F (27°/12° C)
  • Average rainfall: 0.33 inches

November Weather in Joshua Tree

  • Average high/low temperature: 70°/ 43° F ( 21°/ 6° C)
  • Average rainfall: 0.61 inches

December Weather in Joshua Tree

  • Average high/low temperature: 60° /37° F (15°/ 2° C)
  • Average rainfall: 0.79 in.

About Joshua Tree National Park

Is Joshua Tree a national park?

Yes, Joshua Tree was designated to national park status in 1994. It is located east of Los Angeles in southeastern California.

Why do they call it the Joshua Tree?

It’s believed that the Joshua tree got its name from Mormon pioneers who traveled across the Mojave Desert in the 1800s.

As the legend goes, the unique shape of the Joshua tree reminded the Mormons of the biblical figure, Joshua, who raised his hands to the sky in prayer. Just as Joshua led the Israelites through the Promised Land, the Joshua trees served as a guide for the pioneers through the desert.

What is Joshua Tree known for?

The national park is best known for its namesake, the Joshua trees, but it’s also known for its many unique rock formations and gold mines that were in use between 1860 and 1940.

Is Joshua Tree High Desert?

You could say that part of Joshua Tree is a high desert.

The national park is located along the crossroads of two deserts: the lower Colorado Desert and the higher Mojave Desert. The western part of the park lies within the high Mojave Desert which is home to the Joshua trees.

Can you go to Joshua Tree at night?

Yes, you can go to Joshua Tree at night. In fact, because of its low light pollution, the park is a great place to go stargazing at night.

Star night lapse, Joshua Tree

Star night lapse, Joshua Tree

What time does Joshua Tree park close?

The Joshua Tree National Park never closes. It’s always open and can be visited at any time of the year.

What is the closest airport to Joshua Tree National Park?

The closest airport to Joshua Tree National Park is Palm Springs International Airport which is 40 miles away. From the airport, you can take Highway 10 West to Highway 62 to reach the park.

Other nearby international airports include:

  1. Los Angeles International Airport (150 miles)
  2. San Diego International Airport (150 miles)
  3. Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (200 miles)
  4. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (225 miles)

Where do I enter Joshua Tree?

There are multiple entrances to the park of which we’ll talk more about in the next question. If you plan to just visit for the day, the main way to enter the park is through the town of Joshua Tree at the junction of Highway 62 and Park Boulevard.

If you plan on Joshua Tree camping, you can take an entrance that leads directly to your campground from the surrounding towns of Twentynine Palms and Yucca Valley. These back roads have less traffic, but keep in mind that they don’t connect with the rest of the park.

Not an experienced camper? Don't worry. These 243 camping fails will make you feel better.

How many entrances does Joshua Tree National Park have?

There are three entrances into Joshua Tree National Park:

  1. The West Entrance. Accessed from the intersection of Highway 62 and Park Boulevard in the town of Joshua Tree.
  2. The North Entrance. Located three miles south of the Highway 62/Utah Trail junction in the town of Twentynine Palms.
  3. The South Entrance. Situated along Interstate 10 near Cottonwood Spring which is about 25 miles east of the town of Indio.

Which Joshua Tree entrance is best?

The Western Entrance, accessed by the town of Joshua Tree, is the main entrance. It’s the most popular entrance, so you should be prepared for long lines, especially on the weekends.

If you want to avoid the long lines, the North Entrance from Twentynine Palms is the best alternative.

What should I bring to Joshua Tree?

Joshua Tree National Park doesn’t have any stores where you can purchase food, water, gas and other supplies, so you’ll need to be prepared before entering.

Your last stops for shopping are the towns of Joshua Tree, Twentynine Palms, and Indio.

Below are items recommended to bring with you into the park:

  1. Water (at least one gallon per person per day)
  2. Food (pack a little extra). Here's how to keep it cold while camping.
  3. First aid kit
  4. Ice and ice chest
  5. Sun hat and sunglasses
  6. Sunscreen
  7. Sturdy footwear
  8. Flashlight
  9. Binoculars
  10. Camera
  11. Daypack

Is there cell service in Joshua Tree?

Cell phone reception is either non-existent or very limited throughout most of the park.

However, it’s possible for you to pick up a decent signal if you want to hike up to the top of a rock pile or hill. You may also get a good reception at the top of Keys View Road.

Can you drive through Joshua Tree National Park?

Yes, you can drive through Joshua Tree National Park.

There is a paved, main road that runs east to west through the park that allows you to visit all the major attractions. This main road is called Park Boulevard (on the west side of the park) but later turns into Pinto Basin Road.

What is Skull Rock?

Skull Rock is one of the most popular attractions in Joshua Tree National park, it's a large rock formation that’s shaped like a human skull. It even has two eye sockets which were formed by erosion.

Skull Rock can be seen from the main road. There’s a parking lot across from Skull Rock where you can park your vehicle. There’s an optional 1.7-mile nature trail nearby the attraction as well.

Joshua Tree attractions

What type of rock is Skull Rock?

Skull Rock is formed from granite rock.

Where is Skull Rock in Joshua Tree?

You’ll find Skull Rock in the middle part of the park, right off the main road and nearby Joshua Tree camping at the Jumbo Rocks campground.

Do Joshua trees walk?

No, Joshua trees don’t walk.

But you can go on short Joshua Tree hikes and nature trails that include Arch Rock, Skull Rock, Cholla Cactus Garden, Cap Rock, Hidden Valley and Keys View.

Arch Rock Joshua Tree

Arch Rock, Joshua Tree

Where can you see Joshua trees?

Besides the Mojave Desert of the Joshua Tree National Park in southwestern California.

You can also see Joshua trees in Utah, Nevada and Arizona at elevations of 2,000 to 6,000 feet.

Are Joshua trees cacti?

Joshua trees are neither trees nor cacti.

They’re actually part of the yucca plant family, a type of flowering succulent.

What can you do in Joshua Tree National Park?

You’ll discover plenty of fun activities in Joshua Tree National Park. Here are some of the most popular things you can do in the park:

  1. Check out the unique rock formations. The park is loaded with many interesting rocks and rock piles that create otherworldly landscapes and offer great photo opportunities.
  2. Go for a hike. There are several hiking and nature trails varying from easy to difficult degrees where you can enjoy the amazing scenery and spot wildlife that may include gray fox, lizards, hawks, golden eagles, rabbits, coyotes, bighorn sheep and much more.
  3. Go rock climbing or watch rock climbers. There are lots of places in the park for rock climbing.
  4. Spend the night camping or stargazing. Attend the Night Sky Festival in January.
  5. Admire the many plants such as palms, cacti, and ocotillo.
  6. Explore historic mine ruins. (But, don’t go inside them or climb on old rusty machinery because it could be dangerous with mine shafts that drop straight down).
  7. Visit major attractions (like the ones discussed below in the next question).
  8. Go horseback riding
  9. Go mountain bike riding

What should you not miss in Joshua Tree?

Attractions you don’t want to miss in Joshua Tree National Park include:

  1. Popular rock formations like Skull Rock, Split Rock, Heart Rock, Arch Rock, Cap Rock and Penguin Rock.
  2. The Cholla Cactus Garden
  3. Ryan Mountain with its beautiful 360-degree view from the summit.
  4. Barker Dam which has a walking trail and interesting rock formations.
  5. A guided tour of Keys Desert Queen Ranch, a historic homestead from the early 1900s.
  6. Hidden Valley where you’ll be amazed at the different rocks, plants and sunset views.
  7. Lost Horse Mine and Eagle Cliff, two of the best-preserved mines in the park.
  8. Keys Viewpoint, a lookout point where you can enjoy beautiful sunsets and views out over the Coachella Valley and Palm Springs.
  9. Mastodon Peak. It’s a two-mile hike up, but the panoramic views of the park are rewarding.

Where can I hike in Joshua Tree?

Joshua Tree National Park offers several hikes and nature trails of varying skill degrees that wind through magical landscapes of Joshua trees, cacti, boulders, rock formations and mountains.

Some of the most popular hikes include:

  1. Hidden Valley, a scenic, 1-mile loop trail that’s popular with rock climbers
  2. Barker Dam, a 1-mile loop offering a desert oasis and wildlife views
  3. Wonderland of Rocks, a 7-mile trail known for its scenic views and wildflowers
  4. Ryan Mountain, a 3-mile hike with spectacular views of the park area
  5. Warren Peak, a 6-mile hike that is challenging but rewards you with views of snow-capped peaks of Mount San Gorgonio and Mount San Jacinto
  6. Maze Loop, a 6.5-mile loop that’s off the beaten track and takes you into Joshua tree forests, slot canyons and otherworldly rock formations

How far is Coachella from Joshua Tree?

Coachella is about a 31-minute drive (27 miles) from Joshua Tree National Park via Interstate 10 East.

Do I need hiking boots for Joshua Tree?

While hiking boots are helpful when hiking in the park, they aren’t required. However, you do need to wear sturdy footwear to protect you from rocks, cacti, reptiles and insects. Flimsy shoes will wear out quickly in this environment.

Don't miss these other California camping destinations: Yosemite and Pismo Beach.


Camping at Joshua Tree

Can you camp at Joshua Tree?

Yes, you can camp at Joshua Tree National Park. There are nine campgrounds inside the park and several more outside the park.

How much does it cost to camp at Joshua Tree?

Each campground charges its own rate, but usually, the cost ranges from $15 to $20 per night.

What is the best Joshua Tree campground?

There’s really no “best” campground. This will depend on your preferences such as location and amenities.

Do you want to camp inside the park or away from the crowds? If you intend to go rock climbing, you may want to camp near Hidden Valley.

Or, if you prefer a campground with flush toilets and water, you’ll need to camp at Cottonwood or Black Rock campgrounds.

Do you need a permit to camp in Joshua Tree?

You only need a permit if you plan to camp in the backcountry. To get your permit, you need to register at a backcountry registration board or ranger's station.

Does it cost money to go to Joshua Tree?

Yes. There is an entrance fee:

  • Individual Entrance Fee (7-day entrance fee per person on foot or bicycle): $15.00
  • Non-commercial Groups (Per person entering in a vehicle with a capacity of 16 passengers or more): $15.00
  • Motorcycle Entrance Fee (7-day entrance per motorcycle): $25.00

If you plan to visit Joshua Tree National Park frequently, you might consider purchasing a weekly or annual pass.

Weekly Passes: $30.00. This weekly pass allows a 7-day vehicle entrance permit for the passengers of a single, non-commercial vehicle.

Joshua Tree National Park Annual Pass: $55.00. This annual pass covers the entrance of a single, non-commercial vehicle. You can pick up an annual pass at Joshua Tree visitor centers and park entrance stations.

Free Days at Joshua Tree: Alternatively, you could visit during one of the “free” days which include:

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (In January)
  • First day of National Park Week (In April)
  • National Public Lands Day (In September)
  • Veterans Day (November 11)
Note: When you enter the park, there may not always be staff on hand for you to pay, but when you exit the park, there will always be staff present for you to pay your entrance fee.

Does Joshua Tree allow dogs?

Dogs are allowed in Joshua Tree National Park but with restrictions. They’re required to be on a leash at all times and can go no further than 100 feet from any road, campground or picnic area. To prevent interference with wildlife, dogs are prohibited from trails and backcountry. Neither are they permitted in park buildings.

These restrictions are for the dogs’ safety because thorns, cactus spines and rattlesnakes pose a hazard to them as well as predators such as mountain lions and coyotes.

It’s also advised to bring plenty of drinking water for your dog and to never leave it unattended in a vehicle, especially during hot weather.

Does Joshua Tree have water?

You won’t find much water in Joshua Tree National Park, and the natural sources of water are reserved for wildlife. A few campgrounds offer water such as Black Rock and Cottonwood campgrounds. It is a good idea to bring one gallon of water per person each day that you plan to visit the park.

What is the best time to go to Joshua Tree?

Generally speaking, the months of October through May are the best time to go to Joshua Tree due to more comfortable temperatures. However, the answer to this question also depends on what you hope to do while visiting Joshua Tree.

For example, winter is ideal for hiking while spring is optimal for seeing wildflowers, and fall is a good time for rock climbing.

If you want to avoid crowds, summer is the best time, but you also want to avoid hiking during this time because temperatures are way too hot for strenuous activity.

Camping Joshua Tree

Hungry for more? Check out our guide to the best places to camp in the United States.

More reading: How to choose the best camping cookware for hikers and campers.

Your Turn

Which Joshua Tree campground are you planning to visit? Have a question about your upcoming trip? Join me in the comments!

Meet the Author

Bryan Haines

Bryan Haines is co-editor of GudGear - and is working to make it the best resource for outside gear. He is a travel blogger and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands). Work with Bryan and Dena.

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