Joshua Tree National Park consists of nearly 800,000 acres that encompass parts of both the Mojave and Colorado Deserts in south-central California. Although desolate and barren at first glance, the park is teeming with desert wildlife and provides a variety of recreational activities from hiking to rock-climbing. Although within a three-hour drive of more than 18 million people, Joshua Tree National Park is somewhat isolated and will take a minimum of one full day to visit. But you may find yourself wanting to stay longer than that to experience these six fun things to do in Joshua Tree National Park.
6 Fun Things to Do in Joshua Tree
- Hiking opportunities within the park include several options, from 12 self-guided nature trails to all-day backcountry hikes.
- Joshua Tree NP has nine campgrounds and backcountry camping is also allowed.
- Rock climbing is a popular activity inside the park, which has ten mountains greater than 5,000 feet in elevation.
- Mountain biking enthusiasts can take advantage of Joshua Tree’s extensive network of dirt roads that allow up close and personal park views inaccessible to many tourists.
- In addition to a variety of desert dwellers such as lizards, snakes and coyotes, the park provides a wonderful opportunity for bird watching. Roadrunners, cactus wrens and Gambel’s quail are among the park’s year-round resident birds, and depending on the time of year, you are likely to see many migrant species as well.
- The spring bloom is a sight to behold within the park. Depending on rainfall and temperatures, you can generally view a magnificent show of wildflowers somewhere in the park between the months of February through April.
What is a Joshua Tree?
The namesake of Joshua Tree National Park is the unique and interesting Joshua tree. A member of the Agave family, the Joshua tree looks kind of like a cross between a pine tree and palm tree. It thrives in very specific micro-climates of the Mojave Desert between elevations of 2000 and 6000 feet. Viewing these distinctively odd trees in the northern part of the park is worth the trip in and of itself.
When to Visit Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is open 365 days a year, although the best times to visit are October through April, when temperatures are more moderate. Peak season is during the wildflower bloom and summer months are the least crowded, as temperatures commonly exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
What to Bring to Joshua Tree National Park
In addition to your camera and binoculars, be sure to wear sturdy shoes and carry lots of water. Park and trail maps can be picked up at any of the three visitor centers.
How to Access Joshua Tree National Park
The park is located in Twentynine Palms, California, 140 miles east of Los Angeles, 175 miles northeast of San Diego, and 215 miles southwest of Las Vegas. It has three entrance stations – one each on the west, north, and south sides of the park.
Joshua Tree National Park Fees
You can purchase a 7-day vehicle permit for $25, a 7-day single entry permit for $12, or a Joshua Tree National Park annual pass for $40. Camping fees vary by campground.
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