Categories: CampingDestinations

Howling At The Moon: A Joshua Tree Camping Experience

My first trip to Joshua Tree National Park was in August, smack dab in the heat of summer, a pit stop en route home to breezy Venice Beach. Suffice to say, it ended with a sweat-soaked sports bra, a bad sunburn and a series of pictures in which I am absent because I’m actually somewhere propped against a boulder trying really hard not to pass out…

J-Tree gets hot. Obvious to anyone who knows it’s a desert. Luckily, my next few trips were much more pleasant: if you want to do Joshua Tree right, go when the temperature is still in the double-digits.

Joshua Tree’s terrain is otherworldly with bulbous Joshua trees, the park’s namesake, and massive boulders that look like cameos from a Dr. Seuss story, as far as the eye can see. The rock climbing here is legendary (and notoriously rough on the hands and gear) as is the night sky, which is dark and clear enough to catch a glimpse of the Milky Way.

Not to be missed? Sunset from the summit of Ryan Mountain (bring something warm to wear on the walk down), Ryan Ranch Trail (where you can explore the ruins of a ranch complete with old farming equipment), a walk around Barker Dam, and stops at Skull Rock, Jumbo Rocks and Arch Rock.

[tip: Ryan Campground is a short walk to Mt. Ryan; Belle and Jumbo Rocks Campgrounds are both near Skull, Jumbo and Arch Rocks]

I highly suggest perching up on top of some boulders to watch the sun go down.

Howling at the moon: totally optional, but highly recommended.

Hipcamp’s Joshua Tree Camping Picks:

Straddling two desert ecosystems, Joshua Tree National Park contains an amazing variety of plants, animals, and unreal geography. Looking at pictures are great, but staying there yourself is even better.

1. Best place for climbers: Hidden Valley Campground or Ryan Campground

2. Western entrance: Black Rock Campground

3. Southern entrance: Cottonwood Campground

Or explore the rest of the amazing campgrounds in the park here.

Johnie Gall (a.k.a. Dirtbag Darling) lives her life on the road: camping, exploring, climbing, and everything else in between. Her mission is to write about her adventures and inspire women to get outside and get dirty (check out her rad blog here). Her travels take her everywhere, even to one of California’s top destinations: Joshua Tree National Park. She gave us the highlights and between her words and photos, she left all of Hipcamp itchin’ to get out there. Enjoy!

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