Driving through Joshua Tree National Park

Sun Feb 11 2018

By now we have visited the Joshua Tree National Park twice. The first time was in November 2015 on our way back a Grand Canyon tour and the second time was February 2017 on our way to Phoenix for an RV road trip through Arizona and New Mexico. Joshua Tree National Park is big and it takes time to drive through it, but even if you only have a half day to spare, it is totally worth it to drive through and stop by to experience the surreal desert landscape of rocks, cacti, and Joshua Trees (which are actually plants, not trees).

Driving through Joshua Tree National Park


Half a day itinerary option one

  1. Enter in the south at Cottonwood Visitor Center and chat with a ranger about current conditions.
  2. Stop by Cholla Cactus Garden stop along the main road.
  3. If you have a 4x4 high clearance vehicle: drive along Geoology Tour Road. (Though first check with a ranger at the Visitor Center about the current conditions)
  4. Drive to Keys View and take sunset photos. I would say this is the best spot in the park to catch sunset. Bundle up, it gets colder as the sun goes down.
  5. Exit through West Entrance Station.

Half a day itinerary option two

  1. Enter via north and stop by Joshua Tree Visitor center which is outside the park in Joshua Tree, CA.
  2. Stop by Hidden Valley Nature Trail and do a short one mile long hike. The hike was quite easy, but at this time of year it was cold and very windy. At the visitor center we heard that some people were packing up their campsites and leaving as it was too windy with dust being picked up by wind.
  3. Exit through Cottonwood Visitor Station in the south west side of park.

Did you know?

Joshua Trees are not trees, they are actually plants in the yucca family. They grow only at between 400 and 1,800 m (1,300 and 5,900 ft) which is useful to know if you ever find yourself in a rugged terrain just after a mountain pass and are wondering whether it is likely to see more snow. If you see Joshua Trees, it is not very likely to see more snow.

Learn More

If you enjoyed this blog post and still want to learn more, visit our dedicated Joshua Tree National Park page with a map and links to lots more useful resources!

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