Camping at Joshua Tree
There’s no place in California quite like Joshua Tree National Park. Trees reminiscent of Dr. Suess’ truffula trees, rock formations perfect for climbing, and striking views are just some of the beautiful things you’ll see here.
Camping in Joshua Tree can be enjoyed by most campers, but make sure you go prepared. Only 2 out of the 9 campsites have water and flush toilets (the others have pit toilets and you have to drive to find water). But when you wake up and see the sun rising through a break in the rock formations, it will be worth all of the effort that went into getting ready.
How To Get There
Joshua Tree is located between Palm Springs and Twentynine Palms. From Los Angeles, drive east on Interstate 10 for 140ish miles. There are three entrances to the park and you’ll want to enter depending on which campsite you choose. Entrance to the park is $15 per vehicle for 7 days or $5 a day. The annual pass is $30.
Where To Camp
There are 9 campsites for tents, pop ups, tent trailers and RVs (depending on the size) in Joshua Tree National Park. Only Indian Cove and Black Rock allow reservations and that’s only from Oct. 31st to May 31st. The rest of the time and for all the time with the other campsites it is first come first served. The good sites go fast so make reservations early, up to 6 months ahead. When you’re reserving a campsite at Joshua Tree, visit Recreation.gov and see pictures of the individual campsites. For first come first served, try to get there early on the weekends to get a good spot. Campsites cost between $10 and $15 a night.
What To Do
Hiking – There are hiking trails throughout the park, but on the first visit it’s best to start at the Visitor’s Center to find a hike suited for you. Some are quite strenuous. But there are miles of hiking trails and you’re bound to find the right one.
Rock Climbing – There are more than 8,000 climbing routes in Joshua Tree and many companies that will teach you to climb including Joshua Tree Rock Climbing School. Or there are plenty of less intimidating boulders to scramble up and down.
Stargazing – Far out in the desert live a million stars. The stargazing in Joshua Tree is breathtaking on a clear night thanks to its secluded location far away from light pollution.
Road Trip Through the Park – After a day of hiking and climbing it might be time to jump in the car and take the 18-mile tour to discover the geology of the park. There’s more than just Joshua Trees. The southern part of the park is the Mohave Desert and it’s where you’ll Joshua Trees. But travel north to find cholla cactus and other desert plants and animals. This is a great activity in the spring when desert wildflowers are in bloom.
Note: It’s a desert so it gets very cold at night. It can also get very hot during the day depending on the time of year. Make sure to wear sunscreen and take plenty of water with you. Also, food needs to be stored in a animal proof box to keep the coyotes away.