On first glance, the landscape of Joshua Tree National Park seems harsh and dry, but punctuated with spectacular rock and boulder formations. Wandering among those granite monoliths provides some of the most simple pleasures of exploring. Looking deeper, the plants and animals somehow exist and thrive, having adapted to what is available to them.
That most iconic tree is of course the Joshua Tree – for whom the park is named. With its twisted branches and distinctive silhouette, it stands as an emblem of resilience amidst the harsh desert conditions. Native to the southwestern United States, these peculiar trees can only be found in the Mojave Desert and parts of the Sonoran Desert.
Most of us want to see the all iconic sights and get close to the formations. You will have places like Skull Rock, Arch Rock and Hidden Valley on your must see list. Split Rock and the Hall of Horrors are fine examples of those forces that are strong enough to crack and sculpt granite. In terms of great vistas, Keys View and Barker Dam are not to be missed. There are many places to enjoy the Joshua Trees, but some very special corners are terrific for seeing the Chollo or Teddy Bear Cactus – you’ll find out why, and the distinctive ocotillo shrub, sometimes called the flaming sword or coach whip.
Through time, the Native American people have adapted the necessary skills in live the Joshua Tree region and we will explore their story as we journey. In our more modern history, the park area attracted all sorts quirky characters shall we say, cattlemen who didn’t always care much for law and order, and prospectors intent on finding gold and good fortune. Later artists and musicians have found inspiration among the Joshua Trees and the boulders. We’ll share some of those most interesting stories as we go.
Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Palm Springs or Phoenix
1 – 2 Days
Within the park, the Park Boulevard Loop route travels between the towns of Joshua Tree and 29 Palms – a distance of 34 miles. Adding the Pinto Basin Road adds a one way trip of 36 miles. From Palm Springs to the Joshua Tree western entrance is approximately 35 miles one way.
Named for the iconic twisted, spiky trees, Joshua Tree National Park has a fascinating variety of plants and wildlife and spans two distinct desert ecosystems. With its rugged rock formations and stark desert landscapes, this unique area is a must-visit for a variety of travelers.
Joshua Tree is a popular California national park, with an incredibly diverse landscape. With breathtaking views, a wide variety of wildlife, and the endangered Joshua trees, there’s lots to see and do for everyone as well as being a top destination for serious mountain climbing.
The best time of year to visit Joshua Tree National Park is spring (March to May) and fall (October and November), when outdoor temperatures are mild. Spring is the peak season in terms of visitation, while fall is considered best for hiking. Winter is cool, with temperatures in the 50s during the day and hovering around freezing at night. Summer is the low season (June to September), as daytime temps regularly soar above 100 degrees Fahrenheit and it’s too hot to stray far from the air-conditioned comfort of the car.
One day is enough to see Joshua Tree National Park, but if you add another day or two, you can take in the sights in the surrounding area, from Palm Springs to Pioneertown to the art installations in Joshua Tree. An extra day will also afford you time to go on one of the longer hikes, or try out a special experience such as rock climbing.