Joshua Tree National Park Weekend Getaway
Joshua Tree National Park offers a perfect weekend getaway to hike, rock climb, boulder, and enjoy the Mojave Desert and the funny looking trees. The north part of the park is where the largest concentration of Joshua Trees are located so I recommend spending a majority of your time here. Follow this guide to plan your weekend in Joshua Tree National Park.
Best Time to Go to Joshua Tree
Spring and Fall are the best seasons to visit Joshua Tree National Park since the weather is mild. Winter in Joshua Tree can get very cold and Summer can get very hot with highs over 110 degrees.
Joshua Tree costs $30 per vehicle for a 7-day pass. If you plan to visit more national parks this year I recommend purchasing an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass for access to over 2,000 federal recreation sites including National Parks and National Monuments.
Tips for Visiting Joshua Tree
- There are four entrance points to the park next to visitor centers (Joshua Tree Visitor Center, Oasis Visitor Center, Cottonwood Visitor Center, and Black Rock Nature Center). I recommend entering through Joshua Tree Visitor Center and starting at this part of the park. This is the closest entrance to the town of Joshua Tree where you can find shops and dining options.
- You can re-fill your water at the visitor centers but there is no food for purchase inside of the park. Make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks with you.
Where to Stay Near Joshua Tree
The town of Joshua Tree is right near the Joshua Tree Visitor Center (West Entrance). There are many unique Airbnb options in Joshua Tree and several hotels. The downtown is very small but has some restaurants and shops. The pictures below are from the Airbnb we stayed at during our weekend in Joshua Tree. It has incredible desert views and was so cute and comfortable.
Palm Springs is about 50 minutes from the West Entrance and also has many hotel options as well as Airbnbs. Search booking.com to find a hotel in Palm Springs.
Get Out and Explore
Start your weekend in Joshua Tree National Park by entering through the West Entrance past Joshua Tree Visitor Center. Throughout the park there are numerous pull outs from the main road where you can park your car. Between the West Entrance and Hidden Valley is the most unique part of the park. You can get out and hike for miles, climb rocks, and just relax with a beautiful landscape. You can usually find yourself in an area where there are no other people.
Follow the 1 mile loop in a valley surrounded by large rocks. This is an interesting spot for a quick walk and also a popular destination for rock climbing and bouldering.
If you are looking for a summit hike during your weekend in Joshua Tree, Ryan Mountain is a perfect option! This hike offers views of the park and the surrounding desert. You will see some Joshua Trees on this hike, but the highlight here is definitely more the views (and the workout).
Length: 3 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,000 ft
I recommend wearing hiking boots for this hike to ensure that you don’t slip. Search Backcountry for great deals on hiking gear.
If you feel like you need more views or didn’t have time to hike Ryan Mountain, drive to this viewpoint. This is a great spot to watch the sunset and is only a short walk from the parking. The parking here is very limited so try to get there a little early for sunset. It does get windy later in the day, so make sure to carry a jacket.
Get Out and Explore- Round 2
On your second day of your your weekend in Joshua Tree National Park, continue exploring different areas of the park. Stop whenever you see an interesting rock formation, or a huge Joshua tree that you just have to take a picture with. Seeing the park through unmarked trails is the best way to fully experience it without crowds.
This is a very short walk to a rock that looks like a skull. This is one of the most popular rocks in the park. It is interesting to stop by and check it out, but it does get very crowded.
Spend time climbing the rocks in Joshua Tree. You could hike split rock loop (2.5 miles) or walk around and climb rocks in the area without following a marked trail. There are many exciting rock formations here and if you climb high enough there are great views. This was one of my favorite parts during our weekend in Joshua Tree.
Cholla Cactus Garden
End your weekend in Joshua Tree National Park with the Cholla Cactus Garden. The Cholla Cactus Garden is a 0.25 mile loop with a forest of Teddy Bear Cholla cacti. Be careful and don’t get too close to the cactus! The spines of the Cholla cactus separate easily and are barbed so they will stick to you and are difficult to remove. Fragments of the cholla separate and there are often many fragments on the ground- so watch out!
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