The breathtaking Joshua Tree National Park, where unearthly scenery and outdoor adventures await, is located right in the middle of the Mojave Desert. Joshua Tree, California, is the ideal location if you’re a fan of the outdoors, an adventurer, or just want to get away from the bustle of the city. The park is renowned for its distinctive rock formations, vast vistas, and varied animals. Several activities are available at Joshua Tree, such as hiking, rock climbing, stargazing, and camping outside.

This post will go over some of the top best things to do in Joshua Tree, California, including must-see attractions, outdoor pursuits, and extraordinary experiences that will leave you speechless. So let’s explore Joshua Tree’s attractions while wearing hiking boots, sunscreen, and a feeling of adventure.

#1. Hidden Valley Nature Trail & Day Use Area

image source: Roadtripping California

One of the best things to do in Joshua Tree California is to visit the most stunning and convenient places of Joshua Tree National Park in the Hidden Valley region. The Hidden Valley Nature Trail is a pleasant one-mile circle that leads into a sizable bowl surrounded by granite walls through an opening. It is said that cattle rustlers formerly used Hidden Valley as a cover because of its location.

The picnic place in Hidden Valley is more picturesque because it is surrounded by massive boulders and rock heaps and has a lot of giant Joshua trees. An easy walk runs out and around to the back side of the boulder stand from the last picnic place on the west end, where it opens up into a photogenic fantasy of rocks and trees.


#2. Jumbo Rock

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Jumbo Rocks offer an exploration of a sea of enormous rocks. This region of Joshua Tree National Park is traversed by trails, or you can go off alone and explore. Both rock climbing and photography enthusiasts will like these boulder formations. These boulder formations have their own names because some of them are so well-known. For some genuinely breathtaking vistas, go to Skull Rock and Arch Rock. A one-mile stroll through the center of these formations is possible on the simple nature route known as Arch Rock.

#3. Barker Dam

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The 1.3-mile circular route at Barker Dam is another short walking path. This is your best option if you only want to take a quick route in Joshua Tree, California because it has large Joshua trees, boulders, and a body of water that frequently draws birds. The remains of a water tank left behind by former local cattle ranchers can be found near the far end of the circle.

Many people enter the area and then turn around to leave by the same path, although this is incorrect. Even if it could be a little shorter, it is still worthwhile to continue because the loop beyond the dam has some of the prettiest views and the biggest trees.

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#4. Stargazing

Joshua Tree’s night sky is ideal for stargazing. The desert offers a night sky that is so clear that it is easy to identify constellations because it is far from hazy Los Angeles. Beautiful nighttime views are available to those staying in or camping at Joshua Tree National Park. For information on the finest places to stay in Joshua Tree, consult McKenna’s guide. Visitors can see the Milky Way while stargazing in Joshua Tree, which is an unforgettable experience. Avoid going when the moon is full since the light will make it harder to see the stars.

#5. Go Camping

Joshua Tree is a fantastic treat for campers. Camping here is unlike any other camping vacation because it is surrounded by strange rock formations and Joshua trees. Many of Joshua Tree’s beautiful campgrounds are situated in ideal spots for visiting the park. While each of these has its own appearance and atmosphere, they are all worth a night or two spent beneath the stars. Spring and fall, specifically March, April, October, and November, are the best seasons to camp here. The days are usually sunny and mild, while the nights are chilly.

Hidden Valley Campground is among the best campgrounds, although it is a first-come, first-served location. The best choice is Jumbo Rocks if you want the assurance of making a reservation before traveling. All the major sights and activities are near both of these.

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#6. Rock Climbing

Credit: Pure Exploration

Numerous climbers from all over the world come to Joshua Tree, California, to test their limits and enjoy the park’s rock climbing. Climbing, highlining, bouldering, and slacklining are all activities you can do inside the national park. In addition to 2,000 boulder issues, the park offers over 8,000 alternative climbing routes for you to try. Rock climbing classes are available for beginners as well as experienced climbers, who can venture out on their own. If you’re in the park and feel daring, climb the Joshua Tree, which is a top-notch climbing spot.

#7. Explore the Cholla Cactus Garden

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With over a thousand closely clustered chollas spreading out across the desert floor, the Cholla Cactus Garden is perhaps one of the park’s most magnificent sights for nature lovers. In contrast to how chollas are typically mixed up with other desert plants, they are the lone cactus in this natural garden. Beyond the campgrounds at Belle and White Tank, on the way to Cottonwood Spring, is where you’ll find the Cholla Cactus Garden.

Although there are a few of these plants at this pullout, the Ocotillo Patch is farther down the road. Beyond Cottonwood, on the way to Interstate 10, there are a ton more ocotillos if you intend to leave the park by this road.


#8. Fortynine Palms Oasis Hike

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It’s nice to discover a green oasis in the middle of the desert, and this trek is not to be missed. This trek is cost-free because the Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail’s trailhead is located outside the park’s entrance. Just over three miles long, this trail presents some difficulties. You’ll get broad vistas of the valley and symmetrical rock formations while hiking the trek. Tall, scruffy palm trees that seem a little out of place will greet you as you get closer to the oasis. Watch out for toads and other animals searching for water at the oasis.

#9. Skull Rock

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Skull Rock is maybe the best place in the park to see the nearly comic book-like terrain in detail. In the park’s dominant rock formations, you can discern faces and other images, but at Skull Rock, all you need to see is the outline of a skull protruding from the boulder-strewn debris. This enormous, organically shaped rock, which is directly next to the road, never fails to catch attention.

With traces of trails winding through the area, the area surrounding this wayside stop is a fantastic site for hiking or light scrambling. A 1.7-mile hiking trail across rocky terrain and shrubby vegetation with a few Joshua trees is located across the street. People can locate high places for lookouts, self-sunbathing, or resting.

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#10. Arch Rock

The crown jewel of the Jumbo Rocks, Arch Rock, is one of the most well-known views in Joshua Tree National Park. As its name implies, this 30-foot-wide natural formation has a huge arch shape. Along the short, somewhat simple trek that leads to the arch, there are countless additional bizarre structures. For a great family vacation photo, everyone can fit underneath!

#11. Ryan Mountain Hike

The walk up Ryan Mountain appears to be quite difficult and unspectacular from Park Boulevard, but the reward is in the 360-degree vistas of the park that await at the summit. This three-mile, 1,000-foot elevation rise and the up-and-down climb are rather taxing. As it ascends a desolate slope, the open trail gives little to no cover and is not particularly interesting, but the amazing vista from the peak, at 5,457 feet, makes the effort worthwhile.

#12. Joshua Tree Music Festival

Consider the Joshua Tree Music Event if desert music events are more your style. This event, held twice a year in May and October, features more than live music. Attend a program on mindfulness, take a sound bath, participate in a yoga class, or take a songwriting class. Creatives and music lovers can come together and unwind in the desert at the Joshua Tree Music Festival. There is something for everyone here, and there are a variety of musicians and music styles; perhaps you’ll find a new favorite band!


#13. Keys Ranch

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Few people would consider the region where Keys Ranch is located to be welcoming. It is a National Historic Register site. William F. Keys, who moved to the area in the 1910s, built a home, a school, a store, and a workshop there. Only ranger-led guided tours, which operate annually throughout the winter and into spring, are available to visitors to the National Historic Register Site. Up to 60 days before arrival, reservations are required. The 90-minute trips, which include a half-mile walk, are available for a charge.

#14. Horse Riding

At Knob Hill Ranch, just west of Joshua Tree National Park, visitors can ride horses through the Mojave desert. Everyone can take advantage of the ranch’s guided tours, even if they have never mounted a horse before. In order to make sure that the horses are comfortable while being ridden, Knob Hill Ranch not only encourages visitors to prepare their horses in the corral but also offers classes. Once you feel comfortable, you can ride into Joshua Tree to admire the views of the mountains and desert!

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#15. Wildflowers in Spring

The desert is beautiful in the spring, and Joshua Tree National Park is no different. Around Cottonwood Spring and the path leading to Interstate 10 is where you can find the wildflowers. In certain places, the terrain is covered in tiny Joshua trees dispersed as far as your eyes can see. A kaleidoscope of hues can be present, from pink, purple, and blue to yellow, orange, and red. Wildflower viewing is always a sure thing in March and April. Bloom times vary based on elevation and weather during the winter.

#16. Slab City

A remote desert settlement called Slab City, commonly referred to as the Slabs, is located close to the Salton Sea. Salvation Mountain is a massive, vibrant work of art that is conveniently located outside of Slab City and is a well-liked location for pictures. The outdoor art garden in the East Jesus area is home to numerous oddball art pieces. Unusual car decorations, a mammoth made of blown-out car tires, stacks of old televisions, and other crafts are all to be found.

What Is Joshua Tree, Califonia Famous for?

The park is famous for its unique rock formations, wide-open views, and diverse animal life. Joshua Tree offers a variety of activities like hiking, rock climbing, stargazing, and outdoor camping.

Is Visiting Joshua Tree, California Worth it?

Yes, of course! One of the finest national parks to visit in a single day is Joshua Tree. You can visit Joshua Tree’s top attractions in a single day, such as the Cholla Cactus Garden, Ryan Mountain, and the Keys View sunset.

What Is the Best Month to Visit Joshua Tree?

The ideal times to visit Joshua Tree National Park are from March through May and from October through November. The park is most enjoyable in the spring and fall when the weather averages around 85°, although it is open all year.

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