If you’re planning a trip to Joshua Tree National Park, you won’t want to miss out on some of the park’s best hikes. From easy strolls through the desert to challenging backcountry routes, the park has something for hikers of all ability levels. Here are five must-do hikes in Joshua Tree National Park that you won’t want to miss plus some bonus stops!
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Getting To Joshua Tree National Park
The easiest airport to fly into to get to Joshua Tree National Park is Palm Springs International Airport located just under an hour to get to the south entrance and just over an hour to get to the north entrance.
Palm Springs International Airport isn’t the easiest airport to get to as it is not a hub and there aren’t as many flights daily. Flying into Los Angeles International Airport it will take about 2 hours to get to Joshua Tree National Park.
When to visit Joshua Tree National Park
If you’re planning a trip to Joshua Tree National Park, you might be wondering when the best time to visit is. The truth is, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The best time to visit depends on what you want to do and see while you’re there.
One thing to consider is the crowds. The park tends to be less crowded during the week, and during the shoulder season (June through September). If you want to avoid the crowds and have a more peaceful visit, try to plan your trip for mid-week or during the shoulder season.
Another thing to consider is the weather. The weather in Joshua Tree National Park can be extreme, with temperatures ranging from over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. During the winter months it can get below freezing. If you want to go hiking, the weather is generally the most pleasant in the spring and fall. When temperatures are cooler and days are shorter. However, be aware that some trails may be closed due to extreme heat or heavy rainfall.
Rock climbing is another popular activity in the park. The best time to climb depends on the type of rock you prefer. For traditional climbing, the spring and fall offer the most comfortable temperatures. For sport climbing, the winter can be a good time to visit as the sun is lower in the sky and the routes are in the shade.
If you want to see wildflowers, the best time to visit is in the spring (March through May). The park is home to a variety of wildflowers that bloom at different times of the year, and spring is when you’re most likely to see a variety of blooms.
Tips for Visiting Joshua Tree National Park
- Plan ahead: Make sure to pack plenty of water, sun protection, and snacks, as there are limited facilities in the park. It’s also a good idea to bring a map. Cell phone service can be spotty in the park.
- Wear appropriate clothing: The desert climate can be extreme, with temperatures ranging from over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer to below freezing in the winter. Make sure to dress in layers and wear sturdy shoes for hiking.
- Visit during the week: The park tends to be less crowded during the week. So if you have the flexibility, try to visit mid-week instead of on the weekend.
- Get an early start: The park can get very hot in the summer. It’s a good idea to start your hikes early in the morning to avoid the heat of the day.
- Explore the park’s dark sky: Joshua Tree National Park is home to some of the darkest night skies in the country, making it an ideal spot for stargazing. The park offers ranger-led stargazing programs, or you can bring your own telescope and spend the night under the stars.
5 Must-Do Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
Hidden Valley is a popular hike in Joshua Tree National Park, and for good reason. The loop trail is only about 1 mile long, making it a great option for a quick hike. The trail takes you through a beautiful valley surrounded by towering rock formations. It’s a great spot for rock climbing and bouldering. The elevation gain is minimal, so it’s an easy hike for most people.
Ryan Mountain is a moderate to challenging hike that takes you to the top of a mountain with stunning views of the park. The trail is about 3 miles round trip, with an elevation gain of about 1,000 feet. The summit stands at an elevation of over 5,000 feet. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Salton Sea. The hike is strenuous, but the views from the top are well worth the effort.
Wall Street Mill
The Wall Street Mill hike is a moderate to challenging hike that takes you to an old gold mining mill. The trail is about 3.5 miles round trip, with an elevation gain of about 500 feet. Along the way, you’ll see a variety of plants and animals, and you’ll get a sense of the area’s rich history. The mill itself is a fascinating relic, and it’s a great spot to take a break and have a picnic.
Barker Dam is an easy hike that takes you to a historic dam and a small oasis in the desert. The trail is only about 1.5 miles round trip, with a minimal elevation gain. Along the way, you’ll see a variety of plants and animals, and you might even spot some bighorn sheep. The dam is a popular spot for rock climbing and bouldering, and it’s a great spot to take a break and have a picnic.
Lost Horse Mine
Lost Horse Mine is a moderate to challenging hike that takes you to an old gold mine. The trail is about 4 miles round trip, with an elevation gain of about 1,000 feet. Along the way, you’ll see a variety of plants and animals, and you’ll get a sense of the area’s rich history
*Bonus* Cholla Garden
While not really a hike, the Cholla Garden is a great area to visit while in Joshua Tree National Park. The area is about 10 acres full of cholla cacti. This is a great spot to visit either when you’re entering or exiting the park.
Just be careful! Cholla are known as the jumping cactus, and once you get stuck by one they are painful to remove.
*Bonus* Skull Rock
Skull Rock is a popular rock formation located in Joshua Tree National Park in California. It is made up of two large boulders, one of which has a hole in it that resembles a human skull.
Located towards the north end of the park this is right next to the road, and a quick 10 minute stop is all that is needed.
Overall, Joshua Tree National Park has a range of hikes to suit all ability levels. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or a challenging backcountry route, you’ll find something to suit your needs. So lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails in this amazing park!