Joshua Tree National Park

Exploring Joshua Tree National Park

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 Tree

Joshua Trees for which the park is named:

Joshua Tree National Park: Joshua Trees

Visitor Center

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.

Joshua Tree National Park: Oasis Visitor Center

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.

Joshua Tree National Park: Cap Rock Nature Trail
Joshua Tree National Park: Cap Rock Nature Trail
Joshua Tree National Park: Cap Rock Nature Trail

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.

Joshua Tree National Park: Arch Rock Nature Trail
Joshua Tree National Park: Arch Rock Nature Trail

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).

Joshua Tree National Park: Cholla Cactus Garden

Keys View

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.

Joshua Tree National Park: Keys View
Joshua Tree National Park: Keys View

Skull Rock

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.

Joshua Tree National Park: Skull Rock

Hidden Valley

A 1-mile loop trail starts in the picnic area and winds among massive boulders through this legendary cattle rusters’ hideout.

Barker Dam

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.

Joshua Tree National Park: Barker Dam
Joshua Tree National Park: Barker Dam

Cottonwood Spring

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.

Joshua Tree National Park: Cottonwood Springs

Bee Alert

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.

Joshua Tree National Park: Bee Alert

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.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Twentynine Palms

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).

Harmony Motel in Twentynine Palms

External links

National Park Service



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