Joshua Tree National Park stands as a beacon to hiking and climbing enthusiasts who prefer solitude to crowds, reliable sunshine to the cold and damp and those that take pleasure in weird and wonderful geological formations. 

The park encompasses over 1200 square miles of high desert. Plenty of back country campsites serve the budget climber and backpacker – though you have to pack in any water you need.

Apart from hiking and camping in Joshua Tree National Park, there are many other things to do in Joshua Tree.

Things to do in Joshua Tree National Park
Camping in Joshua Tree National Park, USA

When is the best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park?

The best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park is between the months of October and March when temperatures are moderate. Avoid June to August when temperatures quickly reach unbearable levels.  

Where is Joshua Tree National Park?

Joshua Tree is 140 miles east of Los Angeles but less than 50 miles from Palm Springs, California. It can easily be visited as a day trip from Palm Springs but if you have more time and you’re into hiking and climbing then a few nights camping under the desert skies can be quite appealing.

Related Read: The best camping and hiking gear.

8 Things to Do in Joshua Tree National Park

Check out these things to do in Joshua Tree National Park – from hiking to climbing to checking out the best viewpoints in the National Park.

1. Climb some of the best rock in the United States. Rough granite provides good grip and loads of cracks and holes make Joshua Tree an ideal place for all levels of rock climbers.

2. Drive or mountain bike backcountry roads.  One of the most interesting tours is the 18 mile Geology Tour Road. Sixteen stops require about two hours to properly view the fascinating landscape. A four wheel drive vehicle is recommended.

3. Visit Barker Dam which was built around 1900 for watering cattle and the mining business. Today the collected rainwater serves to attract wildlife and birds. In the vicinity is a trail into the fantastic Wonderland of Rocks area. This area has lots of Joshua Trees and some cave art.

4. Walk the one mile Hidden Valley Trail and wind your way around enormous boulders. This area was reputed to be a hangout for cattle rustlers.

5. Drive up to Key’s View and check out the view of the valley floor. Look for the San Andreas Fault.

6. Hike the four miles to Lost Horse Mine – famous once as a gold mine.

7. Check out Skull Rock and Arch Rock.

8. If you have two days hike the 16 mile Boy Scout Trail. It takes you to the western most edge of the Wonderland of Rocks.

9. Stop at every pull out and hike all the short nature trails as you wind your way through the park.

Words of Caution

Many of the things to do in Joshua Tree National Park include hiking and climbing, here’s a few things to be cautious about when out on the trails.

  • The high desert is a harsh place to live. Carry at least one gallon of water per person per day.
  • Avoid drainage areas during or after thunderstorms.
  • Don’t count on your cell phone for a rescue. Coverage is erratic.
  • Stay away from mine openings.
  • Watch where you put your hands & feet, especially in spring & summer when snakes are on the go
  • Pets are only allowed on the first 100 feet of trail.
  • Back country permits are required. Display or your vehicle will be towed.

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