Geological formations, other-worldly in their contortions, rise like desert gods toward an empty sky, the earth’s history rich in their dusty red rock. Sudden pools, silent and still, appear and disappear along the landscape, as mystical Joshua Trees, twisted branches beautiful and strange, trace a slow dance against the skyline. This is a place of legend and mystery; a place where pioneers, wandering through dust and sand, saw prophets in the trees; where constellations, ancient and never-ending, explode across the night sky; a place that is both inspiring and wild, that captures the imagination and heart of every person who steps inside its dusty borders. There are nearly endless opportunities here to discover the park, whatever that may mean to you, as there are miles and miles of hiking and backpacking trails, backcountry roads waiting to be explored, and thousands of rock climbing opportunities. Or, perhaps, you simply want to sit still, and take in the timelessness of the park around you. Whatever your style, you can find it at this truly stunning national treasure, and, we expect, you might just find yourself as well.
Hipcamp: Jumbo Rocks Campground is located just about on top of Skull Rock toward the western border of the park, meaning that it is...
Hipcamp: White Tank is located practically on top of Arch Rock, one of the park’s signature formations, and offers easy access to...
Hipcamp: Indian Cove is located at the northern entrance of the park, and, at 101 sites (13 are group sites), is one of the larger camp...
Hipcamp: Just inside the park’s western entrance, Black Rock is located on the California Riding and Hiking Trail and just next to the...
Hipcamp: Hidden Valley is located toward the center of the park, just off Park Boulevard, and is a short hike from Mt. Ryan (and the...
Hipcamp: Sheep Pass Campground, one of three group campgrounds in the park, is located toward the center of Joshua Tree, and has easy...
Hipcamp: Ryan Campground is 31 first-come, first-served sites located on the California Riding and Hiking Trail, toward the center of...
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
Water, water, water. A good rule of thumb is two gallons per-person, per day. And don’t forget sunscreen!
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.
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.
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! :)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (
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.
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!
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.
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!
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 :-)
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.