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Joshua Tree National Park

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK

Joshua Tree National Park is a stunningly unique desert landscape with tons to see. I first want to acknowledge that Joshua Tree is stolen Cahuilla, Chemehuevi, Mojave, and Yuhaviatam/Maarenga’yam (Serrano) land and it is important to honor the true heritage of this land.

Need to Know:

Currency: US Dollar

Language: English

Airports:

PSP (1hr drive)

SNA (2.5hr drive)

LAX (3.5hr drive)

LAS (3hr drive)

Electrical Outlets: 120V supply voltage and 60Hz

Planning Your Trip

Accommodation – We stayed at an adorable little Airbnb out in the desert. It was about 45 minutes from the heart of the park, which sounds like a lot, but honestly lodging is pretty limited and it didn’t seem that far. There are some lodges in Twentynine Palms that you can look into, but we absolutely loved the Airbnb desert experience.

Food – We didn’t eat out at all during our visit. We bought groceries at Stater Bros in Twentynine Palms and then cooked all our meals at our Airbnb. The closest restaurant to our Airbnb was about 25 mins away, so it worked out better for us to cook. We did stop for coffee at Joshua Tree Coffee Co. which was very popular and a little underwhelming.

Getting Around – You really need a car to explore Joshua Tree. It is kind of out in the middle of nowhere, so getting there would be a huge struggle without a car. I would also recommend getting into the park early because there are limited entrances so the lines to enter can get really long.

Top Sights in Joshua Tree

1
Cholla Cactus Garden The Cholla Cactus Garden easily one of the coolest things I've ever seen. You can get lost in the winding trails of a seemingly endless field of cacti. These are such unique plants and a stark change from the rocky Joshua Tree landscape just miles up the road.
2
Jumbo Rocks One of my favorite sceneries in Joshua Tree is the Jumbo Rocks area. Within this area you can wander around miles of paths, exploring different boulders and views. You can also see a few marked attractions such as Split Rock and Skull Rock.
3
Keys View This is a very popular viewpoint that is a bit of a drive out of the way. You can see spectacular views of Coachella Valley and Palm Springs. The day we visited it was raining and hailing, so this wasn't the most pleasant experience.
andrea Abroad Cholla Cactus Garden
Andrea Abroad Jumbo Rocks
Andrea Abroad Key Views

My Favorite Hikes in Joshua Tree

Ryan Mountain: This was the biggest hike we did in Joshua Tree, given there aren’t that many big hikes as compared to other national parks. This popular out-and-back trail climbs to the top of Ryan Mountain for beautiful panorama views of the park. It is 3 miles round-trip and about 1,000 ft elevation gain. 

Barker Dam: With beautiful boulder scenery and iconic Joshua Trees, this is one of the most popular hikes in the park. In the spring, you can see water in the dam that was built by ranchers to store water for their cattle. We were there in November and the dam was dried up. This is an easy, 1.3 mile loop.

Cottonwood Springs Nature Trail: We came into Joshua Tree through the south entrance, where we stopped and explored the Cottonwood Springs area. This is about an hour south of the main Joshua Tree area. If you have the time, or come through the south entrance, I’d definitely recommend checking out this trail. The main trail is 1.5 miles of you feeling like you’re walking on Mars. You can easily lengthen or shorten this hike with many different trails in this area.

If you loved Joshua Tree and want to check out more National Parks – check out my guide to all five Utah National Parks!

ryan Mountain Andrea Abroad
Andrea Abroad Barker Dam
Andrea Abroad Cottonwood Springs
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