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17 Amazing Things to Do at Joshua Tree National Park for Nature Lovers

Are you looking for an adventure that will bring out your wild side? Then look no further than Joshua Tree National Park!

Located in southeastern California, this incredible desert oasis offers up a unique blend of stunning landscapes and plenty of activities to keep even the most adventurous traveler occupied.

From rock climbing to stargazing, here are 17 incredible things you can do while visiting Joshua Tree National Park.

So grab your best hiking boots and join us on a journey around this unforgettable destination!

Joshua Tree National Park: Geography and Interactive Map

Joshua Tree National Park is a magnificent desert oasis that spans over 1,200 square miles in southern California. The park’s stunning landscape is defined by its mystical rock formations, expansive desert vistas, and of course, the iconic Joshua Trees themselves. 

The park is situated at the junction of two distinct ecosystems, the Mojave and Colorado, which makes for an extraordinary range of flora and fauna.

The diverse range of habitats makes Joshua Tree National Park a prime destination for hikers, rock climbers, and outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. 

What You Should Know Before Visiting Joshua Tree National Park

There are a few important things you should keep in mind before visiting Joshua Tree National Park:

Stay Hydrated

  • Make sure to pack plenty of water and sunscreen, as the desert heat can be intense. 


  • Camping within the park requires a permit, so be sure to plan ahead if you want to stay overnight. 

Leave No Trace

  • Visitors should follow Leave No Trace principles and be respectful of the fragile desert ecosystem.

Cell Service

Cell service is patchy throughout the park. AT&T is not that great, but Verizon is better.

Entrance fees to Joshua Tree National Park

  • $30 for a private vehicle (valid for 7 days)
  • $25 for a motorcycle (valid for 7 days)
  • $15 for a pedestrian or bicyclist (valid for 7 days)
  • $55 for a Joshua Tree National Park annual pass


Pets are allowed at Joshua Tree National Park, as long as they stay within 100 feet (30.5 m) of highways, picnic spots, and campgrounds. but they must be on a leash at all times.

Best Time to Visit Joshua Tree National Park

If you’re planning a trip to Joshua Tree National Park, the best time to go depends on your preferences and what you want to do. 


  • Best time to visit: March to May
  • Temperatures are mild and pleasant, with average highs in the 70s°F (20s°C)
  • Wildflowers are in bloom, especially in March and April
  • Crowds are moderate but can be higher during spring break and Easter week


  • Best time to visit: June to August (early morning or late afternoon)
  • Temperatures can be extremely hot, with average highs in the 90s°F (30s°C) and sometimes exceeding 100°F (38°C)
  • Crowds are lower during weekdays, but higher on weekends and holidays
  • Bring plenty of water and sunscreen, and avoid hiking during the hottest part of the day


  • Best time to visit: September to November
  • Temperatures are still warm, with average highs in the 70s°F (20s°C) in September and October, and cooling down to the 60s°F (15-20°C) in November
  • Crowds are lower than in spring but can be higher during peak fall foliage season in late October/early November
  • Good time for hiking and stargazing


  • Best time to visit: December to February
  • Temperatures are cool during the day, with average highs in the 50s-60s°F (10-15°C), and can drop below freezing at night
  • Crowds are lower, except during holidays and weekends in December and January
  • Good time for hiking, rock climbing, and stargazing, but some roads and trails may be closed due to snow or ice

No matter when you plan your visit, be sure to check the weather forecast and come prepared with plenty of water and sun protection.

Top Attractions in Joshua Tree National Park

1. Witness the Breathtaking Views From the Keys View Overlook

Keys View Overlook at Joshua Tree National Park
Source: Clinton Steeds – Flickr CC

One of the most unforgettable things to do at Joshua Tree National Park is to witness the breathtaking views from the Keys View Overlook.

As you make your way up the winding road to the top of the overlook, you’ll feel a sense of anticipation building within you.

And when you finally reach the top, your breath will be taken away by the stunning panoramic vistas that stretch out before you.

From the rocky outcroppings to the vast expanse of the desert below, it’s a scene that will stick with you for a long time to come.

So be sure to add Keys View to your list of things to do at Joshua Tree – you won’t regret it!

2. Visit Skull Rock and Be Prepared to Be Amazed By Its Beauty

Skull Rock at Joshua Tree National Park
Source: Patrick Emerson – Flickr CC

If you’re looking for a destination that’s out of this world, add Skull Rock at Joshua Tree National Park to your list of sights to see.

This stunning rock formation might sound spooky, but it’s actually incredibly beautiful.

Its unique shape was formed by millions of years of natural erosion, leaving a strikingly skull-like appearance that’s perfect for Instagram.

But don’t just snap a photo and move on – take some time to explore the area and take in the stunning desert landscape around you.

Trust us, you won’t be disappointed. So start planning your trip now and get ready for a truly breathtaking adventure!

3. Hike the Hidden Valley Nature Trail

Hidden Valley Nature Trail at Joshua Tree National Park
Source: Domenico Convertini – Flickr CC

Ready for a hike that’s both breathtaking and exhilarating? Look no further than the Hidden Valley Nature Trail at Joshua Tree National Park!

This hidden gem will take you on a journey through towering rocks, panoramic views, and fascinating plant life.

But don’t just take our word for it—come see for yourself and channel your inner adventurer!

Whether you’re in search of a solo trek or a group outing, this trail guarantees a fun-filled experience that will leave you in awe of the natural beauty of the California desert.

So grab your hiking boots, water bottles, and sense of adventure, and let’s hit the trail!

4. Explore the Cholla Cactus Garden’s Unique Plant Life

Cholla Cactus Garden's unique plant life at Joshua Tree National Park
Source: Steve FUNG – Flickr CC

Are you up for an unforgettable adventure? Look no further than the Cholla Cactus Garden in Joshua Tree National Park for some very intriguing plant life.

These cacti are no ordinary succulents; they’re covered in spines and can even detach and attach themselves to unsuspecting hikers!

But don’t let that deter you; the Cholla Cactus Garden is a sight to behold, with vibrant clusters of cacti that seem to stretch for miles.

So put on your hiking boots and grab your water bottle; it’s time to explore the wild and colorful world of the Cholla Cactus Garden.

5. Climb or Hike Around The Iconic Rocks of Boulder Fields 

iconic rocks of boulder fields at Joshua Tree National Park

Are you ready to rock? If so, let’s head to Joshua Tree National Park and climb or hike around the iconic boulder fields!

This beautiful location is the perfect place for an adventurous day trip, and the rocks are begging to be explored.

Imagine scrambling up a massive boulder, feeling the sun on your skin, and marveling at the stunning desert landscape around you.

Whether you’re an experienced climber or just looking for a fun challenge, Joshua Tree National Park has something for everyone.

So grab some water, lace up your hiking boots, and let’s go climb some rocks!

6. Check Out the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art Museum

Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art Museum at Joshua Tree National Park
Source: Channone Arif – Flickr CC

Feeling adventurous? Why not take a road trip to the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art Museum in Joshua Tree National Park!

It’s not your typical art museum – this one is located outside, allowing you to admire the unique sculptures against the stunning desert landscape.

Get up close and personal with the pieces, some created with found objects and recycled materials.

You’ll feel like you’ve stumbled into an artist’s secret playground.

Bring your sunscreen and a camera, because this place is Instagram-worthy!

So why not make a day of it and explore everything Joshua Tree has to offer while you’re there? Let’s get this road trip started!

7. Stargaze & Admire the Beauty of the Night Sky at One of Joshua Tree’s Dark Sky Spots

Stargazing at Joshua Tree National Park
Source: daveynin – Flickr CC

Gather your telescopes and blankets, because Joshua Tree is ready for stargazing.

The air is cool, but the views are hotter than a shooting star.

With the lack of city lights, the sky provides absolute darkness, perfect for viewing the amazing constellations.

You may think you’ve seen it all before, but believe us, Joshua Tree’s dark sky spots will leave you in awe.

It’s like watching a science fiction movie, but this time you get to experience it for real. So sit back, relax, and let the universe do the talking.

8. Check Out the Native American Petroglyphs at Indian Cove 

American petroglyphs at Indian Cove Joshua Tree

Have you ever wanted to travel back in time and see what life was like for our early ancestors?

Look no further than Indian Cove in Joshua Tree National Park!

There, you can marvel at the fascinating Native American petroglyphs etched into the rocks.

Take a step up to the ancient symbols and let your imagination run wild.

Maybe you’ll even feel a mystical connection to the spirit world, just like the native peoples who left their mark centuries ago.

It’s the perfect spot to unleash your inner Indiana Jones and experience a piece of American history in a whole new way!

9. Catch a Glimpse of Some Desert Wildlife On a Drive Through Pinto Basin Road 

 drive through Pinto Basin Road at Joshua Tree National Park

Grab your binoculars and hop in the car; it’s time to go desert wildlife spotting!

Pinto Basin Road at Joshua Tree National Park is the perfect destination for those looking to catch a glimpse of some furry and feathered friends.

Who knows what kind of critters you might find along the way? Maybe a majestic jackrabbit bouncing between the Joshua trees or a sly coyote slinking through the sand dunes.

Keep your eyes peeled for a flash of vibrant feathers as a red-tailed hawk soars overhead.

With its stunning desert landscapes and diverse wildlife, Pinto Basin Road is nature’s playground just waiting to be explored.

So buckle up, turn up the tunes, and let’s hit the road to see what kind of wild wonders we can find!

10. Visit the Oasis Visitor Center to Learn More About the Park and Its History

Oasis Visitor Center at Joshua Tree National Park

Are you ready to have a blast and learn all about the amazing Joshua Tree National Park?

The Oasis Visitor Center has you covered!

With interactive exhibits, knowledgeable staff, and plenty of opportunities to get your hands on some cool souvenirs, this fun-filled spot is perfect for history buffs and nature lovers alike.

You’ll discover all sorts of fascinating facts about the park’s unique geography, diverse wildlife, and rich cultural history.

So come on down and kick off your Joshua Tree adventure with a visit to the Oasis Visitor Center—we promise you won’t be disappointed!

11. Hike Through some of the Desert’s Beautiful Trails: Lost Palms Oasis, Barker Dam Loop, or Ryan Mountain Trail

Hike through Lost Palms Oasis Trail
Source: Ken Lund – Flickr CC

Are you ready for an adventure through some of the desert’s most stunning trails?

Put on your hiking boots and get ready to explore! You won’t regret hiking through the Lost Palms Oasis, where you’ll be surrounded by towering palms and can cool off in natural pools.

Or, take on the Barker Dam Loop trail and see ancient Native American rock art and breathtaking views of the desert landscape.

And if you’re up for a challenge, make your way up the Ryan Mountain Trail, where you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the entire park.

So grab some water, lather on the sunscreen, and let’s hit the trails!

12. Visit Arch Rock, a Massive Rock Formation Located in the White Tank Campground

Arch Rock at Joshua Tree National Park

Welcome to Joshua Tree National Park, where nature meets adventure!

If you’re looking for some thrills, then there’s no better place than Arch Rock.

This massive rock formation located in the White Tank Campground is a true wonder of nature.

It’s no wonder that people come from all over the world to visit this unique site.

The best part? It’s not just a pretty sight to see! There are so many things to do at Joshua Tree National Park, and Arch Rock is no exception.

Take a hike, have a picnic, or go rock climbing, all while enjoying the beautiful scenery. It’s time to experience the best of nature and adventure that Joshua Tree can offer!

13. Take a Scenic Drive Through the Park And Enjoy Its Classic Desert Views 

Scenic Drive Through Joshua Tree National Park

Get your cameras ready, because Joshua Tree National Park promises to be a sight for sore eyes.

Hop in your car and take a scenic drive through the park, where you can bask in the glory of classic desert views.

But a drive is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things to do at Joshua Tree National Park.

It’s time to channel your inner adventurer and explore all the hiking trails, rock-climbing spots, and stargazing opportunities that this park has to offer.

Whether you’re looking to break a sweat or just sit back and relax, Joshua Tree National Park has got you covered.

14. Stop For Lunch at One of The Picnic Spots Scattered Throughout the Park

picnic spot at Joshua Tree National Park

Visiting Joshua Tree National Park is an adventure for anyone seeking a unique outdoor experience.

From hiking to rock climbing, this beautiful destination has plenty of things to do.

But when hunger strikes, don’t forget to stop for a break at one of the many picnic spots scattered throughout the park.

Whether you prefer to take a break in the shade of towering rock formations or stop for a meal while overlooking breathtaking landscapes, there is a perfect spot for you.

Pack a picnic lunch with your favorite snacks and sandwiches and enjoy a well-deserved break in the midst of all the excitement.

15. Enjoy the Beauty of Cottonwood Spring

Cottonwood Spring at Joshua Tree National Park
Source: daveynin – Flickr CC

This gem of a spot boasts crystal-clear waters, gorgeous hikes, and stunning views that will take your breath away.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker looking for an epic trek or just looking to relax in nature’s beauty, there are plenty of things to do at Cottonwood Spring.

Take a dip in the cool waters of the natural pools, snap a selfie with the famous Joshua trees, or challenge yourself with a challenging hike up to Mastodon Peak.

The possibilities are endless, and the memories are sure to last a lifetime.

So pack your bags, grab your hat, and come enjoy the natural splendor of Cottonwood Spring in Joshua Tree National Park!

16. Take the Kids to Keys Ranch and Explore Park Ranger Walter Scott Keys’ Home & Workshop

Park Ranger Walter Scott Keys' home and workshop at Joshua Tree National Park

Looking for a family adventure that’s both fun and educational? Look no further than Keys Ranch at Joshua Tree National Park!

Here, you can explore the fascinating home and workshop of Park Ranger Walter Scott Keys.

With your little ones by your side, you’ll get a taste of what life was like for a ranger at the turn of the 20th century.

From the historic equipment to the charming rustic decor, there’s plenty to explore and discover at Keys Ranch.

So pack up the family and head out for a day of fun and adventure at one of the most unique and interesting spots in Joshua Tree!

17. Visit One of the Park’s Many Campsites for a Night Under The Stars

campsites for a night under the stars at Joshua Tree National Park

Why settle for a boring hotel room when you can sleep under the stars at one of Joshua Tree’s amazing campsites?

You’ll have front-row seats to the stunning desert landscape and the starry night sky.

But if roughing it isn’t your thing, don’t worry! There are plenty of nearby lodging options in Twentynine Palms that will suit your fancy.

Whether you decide to rough it in the great outdoors or enjoy the comforts of civilization, one thing is for sure: your stay in Joshua Tree will be a blast!

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