Top Things to do in Joshua Tree National Park
AAA Travel Editors
Located in Southern California, Joshua Tree National Park is a unique and beautiful spot that is well worth a visit. Its name comes from the unusual tree-like plants that grow there, which were thought to look like the biblical figure of Joshua reaching for the sky.
Today, Joshua Tree is known for its surreal, almost otherworldly desert landscapes, which have been featured in many films and TV shows. The park is also home to a wide variety of wildlife, including several species of white-tailed antelope, bighorn sheep, and even desert tortoises.
In addition to its natural beauty, Joshua Tree is also home to several interesting historical sites and notable scenic drives. So whether you're looking to hike, stargaze, or just take in some stunning scenery, Joshua Tree National Park is definitely worth a visit.
Here are the top things to do in Joshua Tree National Park:
Hike through the backcountry
With almost 30 unique trails, Joshua Tree is a paradise for hikers. Some of the best hikes in the national park are the Hidden Valley Nature Trail, the Arch Rock loop, and the Barker Dam hike.
The Hidden Valley trail is mostly flat and, therefore, easy and family-friendly. But it’s also packed with an amazing display of the natural fauna and flora of the Mojave Desert. Add to that that it’s near both Palm Springs and the town of Joshua Tree, so you’re still close enough to civilization, making it a perfect intro to Joshua Tree National Park.
The Arch Rock loop is another easy trail that showcases the gorgeous, otherworldly rock formations of the national park. And the Barker Dam hike features a dam where you might get to see wildlife if water is pooling there.
Backcountry camping is also allowed with a permit, providing even more opportunities to explore the amazing landscapes of the park.
Stargaze in an international dark sky park
Joshua Tree was designated as an International Dark Sky Park in 2019, making it one of the best places in the world to stargaze. The clear desert skies and almost non-existent light pollution allow for incredible views of our Milky Way galaxy and the many constellations within it.
Visit an abandoned gold mine
The desert isn’t just home to Joshua trees; it was also once a hotbed for gold mining activity, the remains of which can still be seen.
By the late 1800s, the desert was the center of the booming gold mining industry. During this time, small towns sprang up around active mines, and prospectors flocked to the region in search of their fortunes. Today, most of these towns are long gone, but their legacy can still be seen in the form of abandoned mines. Silverbell and El Dorado are just two of the mines that still exist for visitors to check out.
Go horseback riding
One of the best things to do in Joshua Tree is to explore its unique landscape on horseback. Several companies offer guided horseback rides through the park, allowing riders to take in all its beauty at a leisurely pace.
Horseback riding is a great way to see the sights while getting some exercise and doing something new. And it’s suitable for people of all ages and experience levels.
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AAA Travel Editors
AAA Travel Editors is an AAA Travel Expert.