Best 7 things to do in Joshua Tree National Park on a day. Wanna get away and go somewhere magical? Joshua Tree National Park is definitely the place to go if you want to explore great nature, fantastic hikes and a lot of sun. But before you pack your RV, make sure to know of the Best 7 things to do in Joshua Tree National Park:
COME EARLY! Especially if you decide you want to visit on a weekend, make sure you are out there by 7 am. No lines at the entrance, nobody on the hikes, and it is nice and cool in the morning.
Entry per car is $ 20 and you can use the ticket for a whole week.
Where to stay in Joshua Tree National Park with your RV or tent?
First of all you can camp inside the National Park. You can choose between 5 different Campgrounds:
- Black Rock Campground: This large (99 site) campground is located in the northwest corner of the park. Each campsite has a picnic table and fire ring with rest rooms and water nearby. Shopping facilities are only five miles away in the town of Yucca Valley. Campsites vary in size and can accommodate both tents and RVs. A day-use picnic area and a dump station are also available. For horse owners, a separate area is provided for camping or for staging a ride.
- Jumbo Rocks Campground: There are 124 individual/family sites in Jumbo Rocks Campground. Reservations are required during the busy season, September to May. The campground is centrally located and offers great views of rock formations.
- Indian Cove Campground: Indian Cove Campground is located off of Highway 62, thirteen miles east of Joshua Tree Village and ten miles west of Twentynine Palms on the north side of the Wonderland of Rocks. Indian Cove Road dead-ends at this secluded area. Indian Cove has 101 campsites, including thirteen group campsites. There are vault toilets and no water. Water is available there.
- Hidden Valley Campground: The Hidden Valley Campground has 44 sites, pit toilets and no water. The campground is located along park boulevard and is surrounded by large boulders and Joshua Trees. All sites at Hidden Valley Campground are first-come, first-served.
- Belle Campground: This small (18 site) campground is at an elevation of 3,800 ft (1,158 m). First-come, first-served. Pit toilets. No water so bring plenty of your own. Belle is a great campground to see dark night skies.
We didn’t camp inside the Park, but about 40 minutes southwest from Joshua Tree National Park. We decided to book the KAO because we wanted to cool off in a swimming pool – and you definitely need one in this kind of temperature. Also we brought our dog Apache and we wanted her to have some shade.
How much does it cost to camp in Joshua Tree National Park
First you have to pay entrance to the park which is $ 20 per car. If you want a campsite inside the park you have to pay between $ 15 and $ 20 per site.
What is the best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park?
Spring and fall are the best times to visit Joshua Tree with an average temperature of about 85 Degrees. It can get really hot in summer with over 110 Degrees and not a lot of shade available.
How much time should you spend in Joshua Tree National Park
At least one day but if you have 2 or 3 days available, it is even better. The park has an area of over 1,235 mi² . You can choose from a lot of different hikes, see the botanical cacti garden and drive some of the roads with a lot of attractions. Especially the sunsets and star gazing sites are awesome. And not being in a hurry but enjoying everything what there is to see in the Park, makes all the difference.
What are the necessities you should bring, going to Joshua Tree National Park:
- Gazebo or any kind of shade and flies protection if you like to cool off at night.
2. A cooler because you are going to need a lot of water and cool drinks in the desert.
3. Hat, sunscreen, UV protection clothes is just so important to protect yourself from the sun. You don’t like to deal with sunburns, and that happens so fast if you don’t take care of yourself.
4. A fan you can hang over the bed for cooling off at night. This fan is a life saver for us if you don’t like to have the AC running at night. And it runs on batteries so you can also use it in the tent.
5. Mattress topper cooling – no matter if you are in the desert or your hot flashes won’t let you sleep at night wherever you are, get a mattress topper for more comfort and cooling off your body heat.
But now let’s start with the
Best 7 things to do in Joshua Tree National Park on a day
If you are only here for 1 day, start with 1 and see how far you get:
- Hidden Valley Trail: The Hidden Valley Trail is a 1 mile hike through nature, Joshua Trees and boulders. This trail is mostly leveled but you can also climb on some boulders and rock formations. Wearing closed shoes is a good idea. We loved this trail because it is easy to do and you see so many different things. Signs along the trail explain and identify plants and animals, which helps.
2. Barker Dam
Never thought that we would find water in the desert. Although it wasn’t a lot because we went there in June, but at least our dog Apache was able to cool off a little bit. Nice and easy hike to Barker Dam.
3. Skull Rock and Boulder Climbing
Skull Rock is just located off the main road. Lot’s of signs tell you where you should stop and you can easily pull over and climb up the rocks to enjoy the view and the views you get from the rocks and the boulders.
4. Cholla Cactus Garden
Walk the trails through Cholla Cactus Garden but be careful not to touch or come into contact with one of the cacti. You will need the first aid kit which is conveniently located at the entrance to the Garden. So be careful.
If you can, come for sunrise to see the cactus plants set on fire. The light illuminates the cactus plants and lights the whole landscape on fire. This is an amazing thing to see for early risers.
5. Pick your favorite Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree = Tree of Life
The Joshua Tree, Yucca brevifolia, grows wild primarily in the Mojave Desert. It has adapted to reduced rainfall by spreading its roots in a dense, shallow network to collect as much surface moisture as possible.
Pick your favorite tree and name it. We were very impressed by the Redwood Trees, but the Joshua Tree is somehow very inspiring. Can’t even say why, but it really inspires me.
If you have more time, there is more to see of the Best 7 things to do in Joshua Tree National Park on a day.
6. See the Mysteries of the desert
Native Americans migrating through here in their continuous search for food and water, left behind evidence of their activities. Petroglyphs have been found carved into canyon walls and boulders, generally near food or water sites. Pictographs painted in red, black and white are found on ceilings and walls of rock shelters. Mortars and grinding slicks, where seeds were crushed or ground, are also found among the rocks.
7. Drive up to view the Coachella Valley
This drive will take you at least 2 hours and therefore I wouldn’t suggest doing it if you have only one day available. If you have more time to spend it will definitely be a cool thing to do.
Extra tip of Best 7 things to do in Joshua Tree National Park on a day
8. Drive the Geology Tour Road
If you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle and you love a little adventure, try the Geology Tour Road. It is about a 2 hour drive – depending how fast you drive – and it is pretty dusty. So if you enjoy driving off road, here you go:
What else should you do in southern California?
If you are cruising around in California, go visit San Diego. Here are all the tips you need to have a good time. Best tips what to do in San Diego, CA
And also don’t forget to get all the tips on How to plan the perfect Road Trip
If you have more time, go and visit Palm Springs
Palm Springs is about a 30 minute drive from Joshua Tree National Park away and is a cool place to check out. It has very good Restaurants with outdoor seating, a nice downtown area and lot’s of things to check out, like
- Palm Springs Art Museum – Contemporary Art
- Palm Canyon Drive
- Sonny Bono Sculpture, Lucille Ball Statute
- The Alexander Estate
- Celebrity Home Bus Tour
Summary of Best 7 things to do in Joshua Tree National Park on a day
Come early and soak everything in. It is a magical place and is so easy to get around from one site to the other. Take breaks and bring enough water. There are no restaurants around, you have to bring food and drinks. Wear comfortable shoes and bring sunscreen. And enjoy yourself.
See you and have fun,
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