Joshua Tree National Park

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About Joshua Tree National Park

Where can you find geological formations, other-worldly in their contortions, that rise like desert gods toward an empty sky? Joshua Tree National Park camping, where the earth’s rich history is hidden within the dusty, red rock. Sudden pools, silent and still, appear and disappear along the landscape, while the twisted branches of Joshua trees trace a slow dance against the skyline. Joshua Tree National Park is a place of legend and mystery, where pioneers, wandering through dust and sand, saw prophets in the trees; where constellations, ancient and never-ending, explode across the night sky. Joshua Tree camping is always inspiring and wild, a place that captures the imagination and heart of every person who steps inside its dusty borders. Explore the endless miles of hiking and backpacking trails, or explore Joshua Tree vertically with its thousands of rock climbing opportunities. Enjoy the magical experience of Joshua Tree National Park camping any way you like; there’s no better place to sit still on a rocky ledge and take in the awesome world around you.



With nine campgrounds to choose from, there’s no shortage of places to set up camp at Joshua Tree National Park. Bring the family to Jumbo Rocks for, well, jumbo rocks! Or head to White Tank campground to sleep beside Arch Rock. Sheep Pass is great for groups, or if you’ve got a horse in tow, head to Ryan Campground. No matter your chosen lodgings, Joshua Tree camping will stun you with its epic scenery, incredible stargazing, and unique natural splendor. So why aren’t you outside yet?

Campgrounds in Joshua Tree

Jumbo Rocks Campground

1. Jumbo Rocks Campground

98% Recommend (24 Campers)

If Joshua Tree camping is on the mind, staying at Jumbo Rocks campground is a must! Family-friendly Jumbo Rocks campground is located just a short...

Sarah
Sarah: The coolest campground in the park by far. Helpful tip on busy days when searching for a site: CHECK THE TAGS & THE SITE! Some...
341 Saves
White Tank Campground

2. White Tank Campground

If desert camping is on your radar, set your sights upon White Tank Campground at Joshua Tree National Park, where scrambling around striking rock...

Jeff
Jeff: There's day use parking in this campground to enable access to Natural Arch via a 1/4 mile trail.
160 Saves
Indian Cove Campground

3. Indian Cove Campground

100% Recommend (6 Campers)

Experience some of the best in Joshua Tree camping at Indian Cove, where you can adventure the day away among the steep and tall rock formations...

A
A: A bit further in the park from Black Rock, but worth the drive. There's literally no light pollution, so stars are amaze-balls.
77 Saves
Black Rock Campground

4. Black Rock Campground

100% Recommend (5 Campers)

Sleep and adventure within one of Joshua Tree National Park’s densest Joshua Tree forests at Black Rock Campground. With 100 individual sites,...

A
A: There's a good amount of trails that are accessible from this campground, check out Rattlesnake Canyon.
60 Saves
Hidden Valley Campground

5. Hidden Valley Campground

Hidden Valley Campground is a good option for those looking to sleep among starry skies near the center of the park on their next Joshua Tree...

Ben
Ben: This is one of the larger campsites, and most crowded, but for good reason. If you're looking to climb classic routes without...
36 Saves
Sheep Pass Campground

6. Sheep Pass Campground

Gather your crew and experience the sheer amazingness of Joshua Tree camping at Sheep Pass Campground, one of three group campgrounds in the park....

Tim
Tim: Great group site. We stayed at site #03, HUGE site! 3 picnic tables, big fire ring with grill option, big bbq grill. Right next...
33 Saves
Ryan Campground

7. Ryan Campground

Visit Ryan Campground on your next Joshua Tree camping trip for the rare experience of sitting atop a towering boulder as the golden glow of sunset...

Ryan and Danielle
Ryan And Danielle: Great campground in Joshua tree. We camped here on Christmas Day and were surprised to find it completely full, but luckily...
20 Saves
Cottonwood Campground

8. Cottonwood Campground

If you’re after a weekend of stargazing and wildflower peeping, Cottonwood Campground should probably be added to the “must-stay” list for your...

18 Saves
Belle Campground

9. Belle Campground

If you’re looking for a unique travel experience in the American southwest, Joshua Tree camping is not to be missed. Visit one of Belle...

9 Saves

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June 18th, 2015
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60 Reviews

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Drop some Joshua Tree knowledge on us.
Hipcamper Tim

Great group site. We stayed at site #03, HUGE site! 3 picnic tables, big fire ring with grill option, big bbq grill. Right next to a rock formation, short walk to bathrooms, one of the more private sites in Sheep Pass as the Rocks separate you from the others.

Helpful 10
Helpful 10
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Hipcamper Katie

Sheep Pass was an awesome site! We had G3, and there were only 8 of us but there was a TON of room. It had 3 picnic tables, a large grill and a large fire pit with a grill on top. Bathrooms were close by, but no sinks or running water. Beautiful and spacious!

Helpful 8
Helpful 8
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Hipcamper Sarah

The coolest campground in the park by far. Helpful tip on busy days when searching for a site: CHECK THE TAGS & THE SITE! Some sites are set back out of view & some campers don't remove the tags making it look like they're occupied and they're not!

Helpful 8
Helpful 8
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Hipcamper Alyssa

Jumbo Rocks is awesome - the campsites are very spacious and you've got great access to climbing. Highly suggest a night walk as well! The stars are unreal.

Helpful 5
Helpful 5
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Hipcamper Nick

Honey Bees at Jumbo Rocks are extra thirsty and always looking for a bit of water. Be sure to put away water bottles and anything wet or they'll swarm to it in a matter of minutes. Beeware!

Hipcamper Grace

Loved how close this site was to the rocks! Agree that one should take advantage of a night hike if camping here since you won't have to go way out of your way and can make it back without difficulty. Arrived on a Friday morning this summer and was surprised at how many spots were already claimed - arrive early if you plan on staying the weekend!

Hipcamper Anna

I camped here with my sister the other weekend. We drove to the park from LA (roughly a 3 hour drive for those wanting to know. We stopped for coffee and to see the giant dinosaur statues). By the time we got there at 11am Saturday morning the camp grounds were already full. We had to stay at a private campground called Joshua Lake (it was...fine). Sunday we set up at Jumbo Rocks once the weekend crowd started to clear out! Great campsite. The rocks provide privacy from other campers and great cover from any wind. Each site has a fire pit and the toilets are kept pretty clean. Super easy parking and awesome central location in the park.

Hipcamper A
A

A bit further in the park from Black Rock, but worth the drive. There's literally no light pollution, so stars are amaze-balls.

Hipcamper Matthew

Jumbo Rocks is RAD! so many rocks to jump around and climb on. Feels like your on another planet

Hipcamper Jeff

There's day use parking in this campground to enable access to Natural Arch via a 1/4 mile trail.

Hipcamper Kristen

Stayed here in late July without reserving ahead, and found a perfect spot. Felt like we were the only ones there and the stars/sunrise in the morning were incredible. Easily one of my favorite camping spots.

Hipcamper Ivan

This is my favorite part of the park. Skull rock trail is only 1 mile rt.
Site 62-64 is the best for group camping.

Hipcamper Amanda

Super great campsite just outside of the park. We booked a week in advance in January and got a great site, we were in #68 which we liked, but 76 looked good too, I'm sure there are other great ones, that is just another good one we saw in our loop as we were leaving. Great rocks to climb around just behind the site, and yes, noise was kind of an issue, we had some loud neighbors but it wasn't too bad. The stars were amazing. A really nice option to be able to reserve a site here in advance, rather than chancing your luck on Jumbo Rocks. Honestly would probably just always reserve a site here and just drive in to Jumbo Rocks/the park to explore more. And also, dogs are allowed! :)

Hipcamper Linnaea

Last month I had an amazing solo stay at Indian Cove. I opted to reserve ahead because I didn't know what time I would roll in, but it turned out to only be about half full anyway. Glorious stars and in the midst of the Wonderland of Rocks... can't be beat. Definitely check the map as you select a spot though, some are rather tight, and others totally free to the wide world. Easy access to the Boy Scout Trail that's about a 7 mile hike to more central Joshua Tree, and otherwise on the outskirts of the park if you're into dabbling in some local coffee and vintage shops.

Hipcamper A
A

There's a good amount of trails that are accessible from this campground, check out Rattlesnake Canyon.

Hipcamper A
A

Water, water, water. A good rule of thumb is two gallons per-person, per day. And don’t forget sunscreen!

Hipcamper Taylor

Book early weekend warriors! This place fills up fast in prime-climb season.

Hipcamper Sarah

One of the easiest access campsites in Joshua Tree from Los Angeles.

Hipcamper Ben

This is one of my favorite campsites in the park, it's further from the crowds of Hidden Valley, and has some really beautiful rock formations.

Hipcamper Ivan

Jumbo Rocks is the best place to camp. First come first serve basis, beautiful stars at night. If you're a photographer trying to capture some magnificent star trails, this is it.

Hipcamper Ryan and Danielle

Great campground in Joshua tree. We camped here on Christmas Day and were surprised to find it completely full, but luckily someone was kind enough to share a site with us. The campsites are large and there is plenty of space, bathrooms are clean. We were able to ride our bikes from the campground to several other areas in the park easily.

Hipcamper Nick

LOVE Jumbo Rocks - you can seek out some privacy amongst the gigantic boulders here. Set up camp and get lost in the maze of sticky stone all around you!

Hipcamper jake

Just spent Mon-Wed of Thanksgiving week here. AMAZING. Just a stunning as the pics suggest. Because the camp is first come first serve we were in the park looking for a spot by 11:30am (we were supposed to wait til 12 but I was nervous). We got a spot but it was full by probably 1:30 with people roaming for a spot. Lesson here was this time of year, get there early. Perfect trip except a coyote ran off with one of my husband's hiking boots.

Hipcamper Aron

If you are looking for something to do, try a day of guided rock climbing! Joshua Tree rock climbing with Stone Adventures is the best thing you can do in the park! Check out www.Stone-Adventures.com for more info!

Hipcamper Alex

This is the best campground in the park imo. The sites are well situated around the rock formations to give each tag its own secluded spot away from the other travelers. Better yet, once camped you can walk out in any direction from your site into the park and begin to explore!
Two friends and I went the third weekend in Jan and found about 10/125 sites vacant at about 12pm when we arrived. The ranger told us this is one of the best times to visit due to low crowd volume. It got a bit windy and pretty cold at night (

Hipcamper Ivan

What do you do when your favorite campground inside the JTNP is full?
Head to sunfair rd and broadway and you find Joshua Tree Dry Lake.
This vast open area is an overflow for all JTNP campgrounds. You may also head out to Joshua Tree Lake with functional campground. The JT Dry Lake does not have water or toilet. No Camp fires (you have to create one without burning the tumble weeds). This is a free for all offtrail camp site.

Hipcamper Jay

I usually like to hike the Boyscout trail and backcountry camp but found myself getting in late one night last summer and ended up staying at Jumbo Rocks. My girlfriend and I set up camp right against the face of the boulder. Getting a fire going in the fire pit there lit up the whole place and had a really nice glow to it. The next morning was awesome bouldering and jumping around the top. Plus, there are bathrooms and trash bins near by.

Hipcamper Katrina

Amazing views, easy to find, and TONS of space. Well-secluded, bonfire pits, and very close to restrooms & right next to Ryan Mountain hike!

Hipcamper A
A

If you're coming from the west (yucca valley) then this campground is best AND it's reservable :)

Hipcamper A
A

Beautiful rock formations, joshua trees, and some pretty decent climbing...need I say more?

Hipcamper A
A

Rock climbers, there are two spots that have great climbing accessible by car: Indian Cove area around a campground roughly 3 miles south of Highway 63, and the Hidden Valley area near the center of the park.

Hipcamper A
A

It’s a little known fact, but some of the absolute best bands in the country roll through nearby Pioneer Town. Check out the schedule at Pappy & Harriet’s to see who will be there when you are.

Hipcamper A
A

A good desert hiking kit is made of two liters of water for every mile (more if it is hot), protein bar, nuts, and electrolytes.

Hipcamper A
A

Because the weather can change rapidly in a desert, it is always a good idea to let someone know where you will be going, and when you should be back.

Hipcamper yosemite

Access the amazing boy scout trail from here. About 13 miles across 2 deserts and decent elevation gain. I saw turtles and rattlesnake along the way. You can camp anywhere on the northside of the trail for free, hence the name. Town easily accessible frm cove.

Hipcamper Ben

This is one of the larger campsites, and most crowded, but for good reason. If you're looking to climb classic routes without having to drive, this is the spot for you.

Hipcamper Jeff

There are some solid sites here. Definitely a little more crowded than some of the other options in the park, but the sunrise/sunsets were unbelievable, and even better with a quick climb atop the surrounding rocks.

Hipcamper Stepfanie

I came here with some friends in April. The night was beautiful and so were the sunrise and sunset. We hiked and rocks were easy to climb over. Great views from the top! I went from Mon to Wed and there were still many campers but it was fairly peaceful.

Hipcamper Jacob

Probably the 3rd campground in from the entrance to JT, it's not the biggest but that often means people pass it by and you can snag a site (if you're lucky since its first come first serve). No real cell reception in this part of the park which is fine by me. Nice rock formation (easy scrambling like class 3 or class 4) at the center of the campground that the sites are situated around like a pinwheel. No water but has pit toilets.

Hipcamper Sue

I think this is the best campground in the park. So much to explore in the campground itself. We sat on the jumbo rocks behind us and stargazed at night. Although this is one of the bigger sites, it's still hard to find spots. But the spots are large and pretty private.

Hipcamper Basak

Great place to camp in Joshua Tree. You are all surrounded with rocks and boulders. There are few places you can find shade during the day also. You just need to look for it. Also, you might have rock climbers repelling down to your campsite in the morning.

Hipcamper Sarah

Highly recommend booking a group site ahead of time. You get an enormous area to explore by yourself, and the boulders jutting up right into your campsite keep your space secluded and provide perfect climbing opportunities. Did have some noise issues with the neighbors hosting a large party, but it didn't bother our small group…a lot. Beautiful!

Hipcamper Laura

This place is great. Even though the site was completely full, we felt removed and isolated. Our site was nestled against some rocks, complete with picnic table, grill and fire pit. Remember to keep in mind that there is no running water. Being downwind from the restroom is not preferable.

Hipcamper Whitney

Be sure to arrive early to ensure a spot! There are so many great places to camp inside JT, but I love camping here the most. The skull rock trail is conveniently located in the campground, an easy and gorgeous 1.7 mile hike that begins and ends in Jumbo Rock campground. A must do in the evening just before the sun sets!

Hipcamper Whitney

This is a great campground. It's not too deep in the park if your coming from the main entrance so it makes it an easy drive into town in case you want to explore the quaint and quirky town of Joshua Tree.

Hipcamper Amanda

I loved Jumbo Rocks Campground. We went to explore and climb so I also checked out Hidden Valley since a lot of the climbing is near there but liked Jumbo Rocks much more as a campground. Many of the sites are large (we camped at #1 and it was plenty large for multiple tents) and because of the rocks and layout of the campground you're more likely to feel like you're in an isolated/private site at JR. You're near Skull Rock and other trails and can even climb up on the boulders to get a better view. Needless to say, the scenery is amazing, and the stars... to die for... but that would be all over the park :-)

Hipcamper Hungry

I definitely have to come back here and climb one day! All of the park is gorgeous and there are tons of campsites to choose from out of the 9 campgrounds. I love that most are first-come-first serve as well. We got there at night and couldn't find a site because it was the week after Easter so we camped for free at the BLM land not too far from the park. The next day we got to the park early and started scouting for campsites.

TIP: go early and walk around the campsites to see who is leaving when.

This campsite was awesome though with a lot of privacy and lots of amazing boulders and rocks nearby to climb on. Would highly recommend!

Hipcamper Sarah

Ended up here by accident after we had a reservation mishap over in Jumbo Rocks. Boy were we happy with this place--it's a bit more of a hidden gem! Lots of space, lots of climbing. The surrounding rock formations make each campsite unique and private. We loved it here and can't wait to return.

Hipcamper Amy

Stayed at campsite #76, after arriving around 6:00pm on Saturday night (1st weekend in August).

Busy but somewhat quiet for the crowds. There were some 18ish year olds next to us doing whippets around 10 at night, but other than the sound of their balloons deflating it was a very quiet night.

Clean bathrooms, pit toilets. Amazing way to see Joshua Tree, but next time I would go during the wee

Hipcamper Kenny

Got campsite number 8, it was a huge camp area with leveled grounds big enough for couple tents. Good subjects to photography and the sunsets are spectacular.
Came here during October and be prepared to sweat during the day and put on layers at night because the range of temperatures are 90s - low 50s. Expect to hear howling at night, watch out for rattle snakes.

Hipcamper Karen

Hiked from the back of one of the RV sites all the way up Warren Peak- take the Panoramic Trail, and plenty of water. Beautiful sweeping views of the San Bernadino Mountains and Twentynine Palms on one side, and the Coachella Valley on the other. We arrived at about 2pm, hiked up, spent one night- perfect for single night adventure!

Hipcamper Davy

Loved it here! "The Jumbo Rocks" help make all the campsites feel secluded and so much off the path exploring to do! Just be prepared for COLD nights! Bring an extra layer of everything, a sleeping mat goes a LONG way.

Hipcamper chyla

Great campground! Each site feels somewhat private because of the way they're set up. It was full when we were there, yet I never felt too close to other campers. I was surprisingly pleased with the bathrooms here-- very clean. Plus, the stars are incredible here at night.
Personally, I liked camping outside of the park. Black Rock is close to everything, but far enough away to not feel like a tourist.

Hipcamper Christina

Do a sunrise hike up Ryan Mountain. Remember to bring a flashlight and plan your hike time to arrive 20 minutes before actual sunrise (that way you get to see all the changing colors).

Hipcamper John

Reservations required Oct - May.

Hipcamper Jayson

Keep a marker and paper handy to leave a note at the entrance if friends are trying to locate your camp...because no cell service.

Hipcamper Trish

Get there early AM, no reservations!

Hipcamper Damian

Bring Blankets very cold at night!

Hipcamper Shalaka

Drive in circles and ask around for sharing sites! People are often more than happy to, as long as the car spots are manageable.

Activities in Joshua Tree National Park

  • BikingBiking

    Biking in this park provides some pretty jaw-dropping views, but is also restricted to vehicular roads (i.e., if a car or OHV can go there, so can a bike). But don’t worry, cyclists: that still offers ample opportunities to explore the park, as some of those trails provide pretty sick vistas and most don’t, in general, tend to be too busy.

    Check out a few awesome trips through the park and surrounding area, and get to cyclin’! It goes without saying that, since you are in a desert, you should definitely be drinking water, but we’ll go ahead and say it again: bring and drink water. Keep in mind too that there is no potable water in most of the park, so be sure to pack enough to last you the length of your trip.

  • ClimbingClimbing

    We see you, climber, explorer of boulders, scaler of mountains. While everyone else is standing, jaw agape, iPhones out, you can’t believe they are holding still, somehow able to resist that craving for the summit.

    You, however, are a different story. You can already feel that craggy foothold under your boot, a perfectly molded rock warm under your palm as you leverage and pull your way to the top, and, oh yes, you can already imagine that epic, hard-won view. Thankfully, here, that is an itch you will be able to scratch, as Joshua Tree National Park embraces climbers and boasts some of the most amazing climbing routes in the world (yup! As in, the entire planet).

    Ready for the stats? They are pretty jaw-dropping, as there are more than 400 climbing formations and 8,000 climbing routes, meaning there is truly something for everyone. Get started with these and then, who knows? Maybe you will discover route 8,001; or 8,002; 8,003 or….well, you get it. The sky is, quite literally, the limit. For some great comprehensive info on climbing in the area, check out the page at Mountain Project.

    Always wanted to learn how to climb? There are a bazillion spots in and around the park that offer everything from guided climbs to rental gear. Check out the list here, and we’ll see you at the top!

  • HikingHiking

    Rich with breathtaking landscape that feels like a forgotten land on another planet, there are miles and miles of trails for exploring this park on foot.

    Thought of as a “backpacker’s paradise,” you can only imagine how freaking awesome it is to hike here, and those endless acres are there for day-trippers and camp-tenters as well. Trails range in length from a few miles to an extensive 11 mile sojourn. There are also several day hikes available as well as ones that can easily be done in an afternoon.

    Because you will be venturing into a desert (and there is no potable water), you should be absolutely certain to only go as far as you can stay hydrated, and bring more water than you think you will need.

  • Horseback RidingHorseback Riding

    Sometimes, a strikingly beautiful place is just made better by the presence of a good friend. We believe this absolutely applies to horses, and there many paths open to equestrians and their four-legged friends at Joshua Tree. Riders can come for the day, camp at one of two campgrounds that have facilities for horses, or acquire a special permit for camping in the backcountry with livestock. Personally, we think falling asleep under the stars in one of the wildest places in the country with your favorite non-human sounds pretty epic. Check out the trails open for exploration here and, if you are interested in renting horses for the afternoon, you can head over to Joshua Tree Ranch, which offers tours in the park.

  • OHVOHV

    You KNOW those endless stretches of California desert are calling your name, and you can feel your fingers itching at the thought of revving up the four-wheel drive and hitting those dusty paths. There are, quite literally, nearly 100 miles of road available for exploring this forlorn and mystical land, giving you extensive opportunities to reach toward that horizon and take in some of the truly striking scenery surrounding you. Check out some of our favorite treks , then pack up the 4-wheeler and get some mud (well, dust) on those tires.

  • Wildlife WatchingWildlife Watching

    The desert is full of secrets, and one of the biggest ones is the abundance of life that finds home in the nearly 800,000 acres that encompass the park. In addition to holding three separate ecosystems—the Colorado Desert, the Mojave Desert, and the Little San Bernardino Mountains— you can find (of course) Joshua Trees, California juniper and pinyon pine, as well as herds of desert bighorn, six species of rattlesnakes, and many different kinds of migratory birds that rest here on their way to the Pacific. Lizards and ground squirrels are also easy to spot, while many residents (including the sheep and snakes) come out at night, including the kangaroo rats, coyotes, and black-tailed jack rabbits. The best time to catch a glimpse is dusk or dawn. If wildflowers are your thing, springtime is a wonderful season to head to the park, as they are in full bloom. Be sure to check out a the wildflower guides when you go.

  • Other

    Joshua Tree is almost as well known for its truly spectacular rock formations as for the Suessical vegetation that gives the park its name. Those who want to learn more about the rich geological history should absolutely check out the Geology Motor Tour , which takes you through 18 miles of desert and has 16 stops featuring the park’s most fascinating landscapes. Keep in mind that, in good weather, sedans and vans can make it as far as stop #9 on the trip, then four wheel drive is required. But even if you can only make it halfway, it is absolutely worth the journey to see some of California’s most striking geological formations.

History of Joshua Tree National Park

Humans have occupied the area encompassed by Joshua Tree National Park's nearly 800,000 acres for at least 5,000 years. The first group known to inhabit the area was the Pinto Culture, followed by the Serrano, the Chemehuevi, and the Cahuilla.

In the 1800s cattlemen drove their cows into the area for the ample grass available at the time and built water impoundments for them.Miners dug tunnels through the earth looking for gold and made tracks across the desert with their trucks. Homesteaders began filing claims in the 1900s. They built cabins, dug wells, and planted crops.

Each group left its mark upon the land and contributed to the rich cultural history of Joshua Tree National Park. The park protects 501 archeological sites, 88 historic structures, 19 cultural landscapes, and houses 123,253 items in its museum collections.

After the area became a national monument in 1936, local and regional residents were the primary park visitors. As Southern California grew so did park visitation; Joshua Tree now lies within a three-hour drive of more than 18 million people. Since Joshua Tree was elevated from national monument to national park status in 1994 however, greater numbers of visitors from around the nation and the world come to experience Joshua Tree National Park.