Located in south-eastern California, Joshua Tree National Park is a wildlife and environmental haven. Nestled between the Mojave and Colorado deserts, it’s got everything that you require to shoot a classic western: the harsh desert environment, breath-taking scenery, coyotes and even snakes! If camping is not your thing, even a day trip to this beautiful, dynamic landscape is totally worth it. It’s named after Joshua trees which are native to the park. The great rock formations within the park were formed more than 100 million years ago when magma cooled on the surface into these splendid creations. You can challenge yourself with hiking or mountain biking, or you can sit back, drive around and relax under the beautiful starry night sky—the park has much to offer. The park is so huge, no one will fault you for hiring an expensive travel guide.
Joshua Tree National Park Travel Tips
Essential travel information and Joshua Tree National Park tips for your visit
- Before doing anything, you must stop at the visitor centre to get maps and advice from rangers. You will be expected to pay a fee to enter the park ($15 for car, $5 for bike and walk-ins at the time of writing this article).
- There are permits required for backcountry camping which can be obtained at the visitor centres and the campsites must be located at least 2 km from the road or 500 feet from any trail.
- Camping near water bodies should be avoided due to a possibility of flash floods.
- Open fires are forbidden. All cooking must be done over portable camp stoves.
- Carry your own water as all natural water within park limits is reserved for the wildlife. You can also buy water at visitor centres and a few campgrounds. You can also buy water or beverages from nearby towns.
- Campsites will often fill before sunset so be sure to get to them well before time. Some sites may also be reserved in advanced.
- Wear sunscreen because it will be blazing hot in the desert environment. Also, dress in layers and carry at least one gallon of water per person.
- Avoid canyons and drainage areas because the possibility of flash floods is greatly heightened there.
- There are a lot of mines within park limits, most of which have been sealed off. However, if you come across any open mines, please do not enter them as they are more than a hundred years old and are extremely dangerous.
- Rattlesnakes are common within the park, so be careful.
- Guard against prickly and thorny desert plants as well.
- Temperatures can drop to near freezing at night during winters. Carry appropriate layers to protect yourself.
- Horses are allowed in wilderness areas, however you need a permit for the same which can be obtained at the visitor centres.
- There are areas where you get no cell phone coverage, so be alert.
- Find comprehensive tourist information on the official Joshua Tree National Park website.