Two distinct desert ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado, come together in Joshua Tree National Park. A fascinating variety of plants and animals make their homes in a land sculpted by strong winds and occasional torrents of rain. Dark night skies, a rich cultural history, and surreal geologic features add to the wonder of this vast wilderness in southern California. Come explore for yourself.
Joshua Trees for which the park is named:
We recommend to stop first at one of the parks`s four visitor centers. These are places to seek out if you have a question for a ranger, want to check out the park bookstore or take a look at interpretive exhibits.
Cap Rock Nature Trail
Our favorite trail was a 0.4 mile loop, starting at the Cap Rock parking area (at the junction of Park Blvd. and Keys View Road). Features: boulder piles, Joshua trees and other plants of the Mojave desert.
Arch Rock Nature Trail
You will find another great trail at White Tank Campground, opposite site 9. A 0.5-mile loop leads you to a natural arch.
Cholla Cactus Garden
This “garden” is dominated by jumping cholla, named for its tendency to attach itself to the unwary. Guide brochures available at trailhead (an easy 0.25-mile loop).
Highest viewpoint in Joshua Tree National Park! From an evalation of more than 5,000 feet, you can overlook a stunning expanse of valley, mountain and desert. Look for the San Andreas Fault in the valley below.
It is really easy to visit this popular spot: after parking at nearby lot, a short and easy, paved walk takes you to the top of the hill for some spectacular views.
Located along the main east-west park road, Skull Rock is a favorite stop for park visitors. A parking spot is located just across the road from the rock.
For those wishing to stretch their legs, a 1.7-mile nature trail begins either just across from the entrance to Jumbo Rocks Campground or inside the campground, across from the amphitheater.
A 1-mile loop trail starts in the picnic area and winds among massive boulders through this legendary cattle rusters’ hideout.
Built around 1900 to hold water for cattle and mining use, the dam today forms a small rain-fed reservoir used by park wildlife. 1-mile loop trail.
Cottonwood Spring, located seven miles inside the South Entrance, lies in the Colorado Desert. There is fascinating cultural history associated with the Cottonwood Spring Oasis, as well as great opportunities for birding and hiking.
Caution: Bees can be present in large numbers at the Cholla Cactus Garden and Key Views. They are attracted to moisture. When visiting these areas, turn off vehicle AC 10 minutes before arriving so condensation can dry. Keep car windows closed.
Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Twentynine Palms
This typical chain hotel is located in Twentynine Palms, just a couple of miles from the park visitor center and entrance. We stayed here for 2 nights which were very pleasant. We liked the cleanliness of the hotel and our comfortable room (we had a King Bed Executive on first floor, back side). Breakfast was included (but nothing special), WiFi was free and worked well and there were plenty of parking spaces. Overall, this place is a good choice in the area.
Harmony Motel, Twentynine Palms
We stayed in this Motel in Summer 2007. Very charming and special. A nice change from the chain hotels and more familar! Founded in 1952 this refuge offers a simple rustic elegance and a great deal of history (including the rock band U2‘s stay here when working on the Joshua Tree album).
National Park Service
Joshua Tree National Park: https://www.nps.gov/jotr/
Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Twentynine Palms: https://www.ihg.com/holidayinnexpress/hotels/us/en/twentynine-palms/tnpma/hoteldetail
Harmony Motel, Twentynine Palms: http://www.harmonymotel.com