Yes, Joshua Tree and Joshua Tree National Park are safe at night. It’s also perfectly OK to enter the park after dark. The roads are marked, and the park is patrolled. Of course, in order to ensure that your desert experience is completely free from safety concerns or emergencies, it’s important to practice caution and understand the space around you. Here is what you need to know.
The first thing to keep in mind when visiting Joshua Tree and the area around Joshua Tree is the temperature. Summer brings high temperatures and intense sunlight, so make sure to bring plenty of water on your visit. Potable water is only available in a few locations near the edges of the National Park, including the Oasis Visitor Center in Twentynine Palms, the West Entrance station, Black Rock Campground, Cottonwood Campground, and Indian Cove Ranger Station. When visiting, it is recommended to bring at least one gallon (or four liters of water) per person per day. If you are hiking during the hot months, it is recommended to bring along two gallons (or eight liters) of water per person per day. During your visit, it is also important to nourish your body with food. Eating salty foods on hot days will help your body replace any electrolytes lost through sweating.
During winter, it can be incredibly cold at night in Joshua Tree, and snow and ice can make the trails and roads slippery. Try and schedule any hiking plans for the daytime, and aim to be back at the trailhead by 4 p.m.
Make note of the predicted temperatures during your stay and dress accordingly. For hot days, opt for loose-fitting, light-colored clothing and protect your eyes and head with accessories. In the cooler months, add extra layers of clothing. The most important safety tip of all? If you come across the many old mine sites found within the park, never ever enter the mine tunnels or shafts.
One thing to keep in mind when venturing through the Joshua Tree area is that there is generally little to no cell service, so you should not rely on cell phones for emergencies. If there is an emergency and you find yourself within one of the few areas near the park entrances with mild reception, dial 911 or call 909-383-5651. The ranger station in Indian Cove and the parking lot at Intersection Rock near Hidden Valley Campground both have emergency phones.
There are many campsites and glampsites on Hipcamp near Joshua Tree that have WiFi available.
When hiking, it is important to be alert to the surrounding wildlife. Both scorpions and snakes are part of the Joshua Tree ecosystem, and learning how to co-exist with them will lead to a safer experience. While species such as the giant hairy scorpion are nocturnal and seldom encountered, the possibility of encountering one of the 26 types of snakes that call Joshua Tree home is quite real. For this reason, it is important to stay alert and avoid reaching into or stepping in places you have trouble seeing. If you come across any of these critters, begin stepping away slowly. If you are traveling with dogs or small children, make sure they admire these creatures from a distance.
Another creature known to roam around the park is the infamous tarantula. This spider has a reputation for being dreadful and venomous, but it generally will not attack humans if unprovoked. If you are bitten by a tarantula, its venom is rarely toxic to humans — it feels similar to a bee sting. Tarantulas are most likely to make an appearance in the fall months, with male tarantulas walking for miles in order to find female mates. In interacting with its female peers, the tarantula engages in a violent mating dance. But when interacting with humans, the tarantula is shy and deserving of respect.
Now’s a great time to find the perfect spot in Joshua Tree for your next camping, glamping or RV adventure. #FindYourselfOutside (TIP: Get $10 off your first booking when you create a new account here and use the referral code JOURNAL)
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