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Joshua Tree National Park


Joshua Tree National Park lies at the crux of the Colorado and Mojave deserts and spans 429,690 acres (173,889 hectares) of wind-swept Southern California plains. Famous for its starlit night skies and surreal geological features, the park's rich landscape and signature flora draw day-trippers, rock climbers, and backpackers alike.

Whether you want to visit on a day trip from Palm Springs or take a multi-day hiking tour, Joshua Tree National Park tours are perfect wilderness escapes. Hiking and mountain biking trails abound in the park: Visitors can stroll through Hidden Valley, bike down old country roads, or get completely off the grid on a customized hiking tour. Rock-climbing enthusiasts can perfect their solo climbing skills with a top-rope anchors class or take a beginners rappelling course, while photographers can snap photos of bighorn sheep, birds, and black-tailed jackrabbits.

Those wishing to cover more ground can venture deep into the desert on a van tour or luxury Hummer day trip and see highlights such as the inselberg rock formations, San Andreas Fault, and Keys View atop Ryan Mountain—the highest point in the park at 5,500 feet (1676 meters) above sea level.

  • Bring comfortable walking shoes, sun protection, and plenty of water.

  • Desert weather can change swiftly and dramatically; always check the forecast before heading out.

  • There are four visitor centers in the park, each equipped with water, restrooms, and picnic areas.

  • Pets must be leashed at all times and are not permitted on backcountry trails.

  • Very few areas in the park have cellphone coverage.

  • Some trails and campgrounds are wheelchair accessible; see the National Parks Service website for more details.

  • Purchase Joshua Tree National Park tickets and passes online, at the entrance stations, or visitor centers.

Joshua Tree National Park is located roughly 140 miles (225 kilometers) east of Los Angeles. The nearest airport is in Palm Springs, roughly one hour by road from the park's south entrance. The best way to get to Joshua Tree is by road; you can approach the park from Interstate 10 or California Highway 62. Be careful not to rely on GPS directions, which can route you onto potentially impassable backcountry roads.

Peak season in Joshua Tree runs from October through May, with most visitors arriving in the spring and fall. Summers are hot here, with temperatures above 100°F (38°C). In the spring, wildflowers bloom and speckle the desert with bright red, purple, and orange hues.

The towns of Palm Springs and Palm Desert are good jumping-off points for excursions into Joshua Tree National Park. Coachella Valley Preserve, located near the Palm Springs area, is a popular destination for picnicking and hiking, as well as a hub for wind farming and agriculture. Mojave National Preserve, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, and Cabrillo National Monument are also within driving distance of the park.

Joshua Tree National Park is open year-round; however, February–April and October–November maintain the most comfortable temperatures. Spring has the additional benefit of being wildflower season. Heat can be searing in summer, and nightly freezing temperatures are not uncommon in winter.

No, you do not need a reservation to get into Joshua Tree National Park. However, all visitors must pay an entrance fee (US$15–$30) or use an interagency pass, such as the America the Beautiful Pass. There are also a handful of fee-free days listed on the park's website.

It costs between US$15–$30 to enter Joshua Tree National Park (depending on if you enter via foot, motorcycle, or car), and there are five fee-free days. Interagency passes, such as the American the Beautiful Pass, can also be used or you can buy an annual pass.

The best Joshua Tree National Park entrance depends on your point of origin and your park itinerary. The West (Main) Entrance is well-positioned if you're coming from LA, San Diego, or Palm Springs, and beyond it is the North Entrance at Twentynine Palms. There's a South Entrance near Cottonwood Spring.

Visitors can see most highlights of Joshua Tree National Park in one day. However, two or more days is ideal for relaxing and making a comprehensive visit both inside and outside the park, especially for those who wish to do multiple hikes, ranger programs, rock climbing, and stargazing.

Yes. Every visitor must pay an entrance fee, whether they camp, walk, or drive through Joshua Tree National Park. Some low- or no-cost ways to enter include visiting on a fee-free day (see the park’s website), being a fourth grader, or using a senior, military, or access pass.


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