Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua tree is famous for its whimsical tree like yuccas that have spiky leaves and are indigenous to the southwestern United States. There is no one central attraction in Joshua Tree National Park- it is a vast, wild, and unspoiled desert scene with spiky Joshua trees and big granite boulders for miles. It is also an amazing destination for stargazers.  Given the clear desert skies, the sunrises and sunsets are vibrant, and the starry sky looks magical at night.
Joshua tree 3
Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park


Temperatures for hiking at best in the spring and fall, with an average high/low of 85°F and 50°F (29 and 10°C) respectively. Summer, between May and September, is very hot – 90°F to 100°F degree highs during the day. Travelers can visit in the winter, but bring plenty of layers as the days are cooler -around 60°F (15°C) and temperatures dip below freezing at night. No matter which season, be prepared with lots of water on your hikes.


From Los Angeles (Airport code: LAX), Joshua Tree is a 2.5 hour drive. You can camp in the park, but during the winter, stay in a hotel in one of the nearby towns or use Airbnb to rent a refurbished homestead cabin. Although the cabin we rented felt remote, it was only a 10 minute drive from the village of Joshua Tree.  There is a small community made up of some great restaurants and mom n pop shops in the village of Joshua Tree.
Joshua Tree National Park


There are no hotels in the actual Joshua Tree National Park but there are places in the nearby village- both home rentals as well as hotels. To enter Joshua Tree National Park, there is a $20 entry fee per car, which is a 7 day permit for non commercial vehicles. To learn more specifics about camping and other park fees, visit the national parks website by clicking here. Bring plenty of water for your hikes, and layered clothing depending on the time of year you are visiting. Keys View is the most popular place to watch the sunset so try to beat the parking rush and get there early!


The 49 Palms Canyon Oasis hike is on the periphery of the national park, it has its own entrance, and is without a fee. It is a 4 mile hike with beautiful elevated views of the desert, and it ends at a desert oasis.
There are a multiple of short, flat, easy hikes to choose from that take you to dams and rock formations.  Some choose to hike different routes to see all the beautiful sites that the park has to offer. Others choose to post up at a campsite and rock climb in a certain area of the park all day. For intermediate hikers, Ryan Mountain is a 1.5 mi hike with a 1070 foot elevation gain.  At the very top, you stand 5,456′ above the desert and the views are incredible.  Looking down, it almost felt like I was surveying the ground of another planet. For sunset, visit Keys View because it is the highest point in Joshua Tree that you can drive to.
The sunset from Keys View in Joshua Tree National Park
The sunset from Keys View in Joshua Tree National Park
Everyone says that they have a moment in Joshua Tree where they experience a profound sense of self-awareness and appreciation for life.  I distinctly remember mine being when I was walking amongst the Joshua trees and the sky burned a pink I had never seen before. For travelers looking to escape it all, there is plenty of time for meditation and reflection while exploring this fantastic desert destination.
Joshua tree National Park
For nightlife near Joshua Tree – drive up to Pioneertown, a town that started as a live-in Old West motion-picture set in the 1940’s. The crowd is a fun mix of locals, LA visitors, and Joshua Tree campers. Travelers with more time can take a detour to Mecca Valley to walk the Painted Canyon trail (vibrant colors make up these canyons) and also visit Salvation Mountain, which has a massive folk art sculpture near the unique desert town of Slab City.
Thanks to Dr. Simi Singh for sharing her travel tips on Joshua Tree National Park!
Thanks to Dr. Simi Singh, a physician in New York City, for sharing her travel tips on Joshua Tree National Park!