Things to do in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is a great destination for those who enjoy nature. But also want to stick close to shopping, restaurants and community facilities. The park’s proximity to Palm Springs allows to explore the park during the day and enjoy the city at night. 
Many visitors come just for a day and see only attractions accessible from the paved road. You can explore the magic of the quiet sunrise or sunset. Drink in its stunning views, enticing rock formations and admire its routes. It is really a perfect playground for the entire family. Read on for tips on Joshua Tree National Park tours.

Fast facts about Joshua Tree National Park  

  • Joshua Tree National Park is in southeastern California. It’s one of the 62 National Parks in the United States.
  • In 1936 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt named Joshua Tree as a national monument. It got status as the national park in 1994. 
  • The park got it named after the park ‘s native Joshua Trees (Yucca brevifolia).
  • The location of the park makes it more unique as it lies at an ecological crossroads. Where the high Mojave Desert meets the low Colorado Desert.

    Joshua Tree
    Joshua Tree

Location: California
October 31, 1994
Total Area:
794,000 acres
Annual Visitors: 2.8 million
Visitor Centers: Joshua Tree, Oasis, Cottonwood, Black Rock
Entrance fee: $15 per individuals,$30 vehicles
Website: nps.gov/jotr

Things to do in Joshua Tree National Park

The park covers portions of two separate deserts the Mojave and the Sonoran. It slides down from the heights into the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs. These two deserts divide the park into two arid ecosystems of contrasting appearance.
Colorado, the western extension of the vast Sonoran Desert, thrives below 3,000 feet. It is on the declining eastern side of the region, where temperatures are high. Colorado seems sparse and forbidding in comparison to Mojave. It begins in the centre of the park. It is bare land decorated by “gardens” of flowering ocotillo and cholla cactus. It runs across arid Pinto Basin into a parched wilderness of broken rock in the Eagle and Coxcomb Mountains.
California national park

The abrupt transition between the Colorado and Mojave ecosystems surprises many visitors. The Mojave section is above 3,000 feet in the western half of the park. Here, you can find giant branching yuccas thrive on sandy plains. These are the most photogenic geological formations spotted in California’s desert regions.

Three ways visitors can enter the park

There are three ways to enter the park. In the north, you can enter by Twenty­nine Palms. For the south side, entry visit via Cottonwood Springs. The third one is from the west where you can enter from Yucca Valley.
The main Visitor Center is currently outside the park, in Joshua Tree’s nearby area.
The main Visitor Center is actu­ally outside the park, in the nearby town of Joshua Tree.
The Park Boulevard stretches from the visitor centre to Lost Horse Valley in the centre of the park. Hidden Valley Barker Dam and Cap Rock together provide an introduction to the human past of Joshua Tree.
You can make a two or three-day backpack tour as there are many trails to explores in the Hidden Valley. It includes Boy Scout Trail which is eight miles into the boul­der­strewn  Wonderland of Rocks. The California Riding and Hiking Trail are 35-mile away. Another trail ascends to the Ryan Mountain summit of 5,456-foot.
Or you can see a breathtaking view at dark when the Palm Springs sparkles with millions of lights.
Park Boulevard passes through Queen Valley across Sheep Pass. The 18-mile Motor Geology Road runs through the valley to the south. It has 16 stops along the way illustrating how the spectacular scenery of the park is. The park eastern part is eerie Skull Rock. A geological structure that resembles the head of a skeleton. In the gorge, Park Boulevard makes a sharp north turn and a rendezvous with a lush palm grove, Oasis of Mara, next to the Oasis Visitor Centre.

How to get there

North & West Entrance:

The exits to the western and northern parks are in Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms. Take the I-10 east from Los Angeles to Calif. Or 62 (Twentynine Palms Hwy.) to Twentynine Palms. The total distance is about 140 miles.

South Entrance:

The south entrance is at Cottonwood Spring. It is approximately 25 miles away from the east of Indio off I-10.
Call +1 760 367 5500 for recorded directions.
Nearest Airports: Palm Springs, Los Angeles.

Best time to visit Joshua Tree

You can visit Joshua Tree at any time of the year. But, as per times travel.usnews the best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park is March to May. Some also consider the and October to November as a good time to visit there. Although the park is open all year round. But the temperatures are most comfortable in the fall and spring. The average high and low temperatures are 85°F and 50°F.
In winter the temperature is around 60°F. The nights are freezing at nights. Summers are hot, with midday temperatures frequently above 100°F.
However, the temperature may vary depending upon the which part of the park you are in. In, winters the snow sheets can easily spot at the Mojave’s higher elevations.
You can visit in Spring to see the blooming fields. The spring usually begins in February. Although cactuses may bloom into June.
For up-to-date recorded wildflower information, visit www.nps.gov/jotr.

Tour Inside Park 

The park’s main attractions include the giant branching yuccas known as Joshua trees. The massive rock formations, fan palm oases, and seasonal gardens of cholla. The seen can be on a leisurely half-day auto tour that includes both “high” and “low” desert zones. Although most of your time you will spend in your car. Scenic paved roads lead to viewpoints, all campgrounds, and trailheads.

Mountain Bike Ride:

Another way to explore the park by a mountain bike. You would be wise to avoid the main paved roads, which are narrow and without shoulders. You’ll find far greater solitude and safety cycling the park’s backcountry dirt roads. Be sure to check the information from the headquarters about your route.
If you have only a day to explore the park then start from the park’s northern boundary. Then take the Park Boulevard loop either from the town of Joshua Tree through the West Entrance Station. Or from Twentynine Palms, by way of the North Entrance Station.

A half-day tour:  

For a half-day visit start from the park’s northern boundary. Then turn towards the Park Boulevard loop either from the town of Joshua Tree through the West Entrance Station. Or take the North Entrance Station to go Twentynine Palms. Check with the park information centre, if the air is clear then take a 20-minute side trip to 5,185-foot-high Keys View. The view from the top is breathtaking.
If you are starting your tour from Joshua Tree. Then return to Park Boulevard and continue east over Sheep Pass to Jumbo Rocks. Turn right (south) onto Pinto Basin Road for driving down to long views in the Colorado Desert region. Be sure to stroll through the Cholla Cactus Garden and Ocotillo Patch, the self-guided nature trails.

If you are starting from Twentynine Palms and the Oasis Visitor Center. Then proceed to the south to Park Boulevard and follow it westward to Joshua Tree. You will found a small cactus garden and superb desert ecology interpretive displays.

Read more on Joshua Tree National Park at OutsideHow



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