Joshua Tree National Park is a desert wonderland with contrasting
high and low desert ecosystems for variety. Odd "forests" of Joshua
trees, climbable rock piles, easy hiking and mining ruins make this
huge park unique. Joshua trees, cholla cacti and ocotillo bushes thrive
here, blooming after winter rains. Visitors should plan to carry enough
water and wear appropriate shoes and pants. The best months to visit
Joshua Tree National Park are fall through spring as summer
temperatures are unpleasant mid-day for most people.
Tree National Park has entrances on the north and south borders; the
main visitor center is shown on the map. Palm Springs is the nearest
Joshua Tree National Park
Twentynine Palms, California 92277
Established as a national monument in August 1936 and as a national park on October 31, 1994
789,745 acres. Open all year. Fee - $10/vehicle.
(760) 367-5500 www.nps.gov/jotr
HIGHLIGHTS: Giant spiked Joshua
trees mark the high desert within this part of the Mojave Desert. Low
desert vegetation where it is hotter and drier provides contrast within
southern and eastern park sections of the Colorado Desert. Nighttime
offers amazing stargazing opportunities.
From California 62, the 49 Palms Oasis can be reached via a steep
trail. Further east, Park Boulevard leads to Jumbo Rocks and a Joshua
tree forest, as well as a desert with yucca and unusual, softly rounded
rock formations. Still further east, the Pinto Basin Road leads to the
Cholla Cactus Garden, Ocotillo Patch, Cottonwood Spring, and Wonderland
of Rocks - 12 sq. miles of disordered masses of granite near the Lost
Horse Valley. Remnants of early ranchers and miners remain.
ACTIVITIES: Hiking, horseback riding, backcountry camping (permit required), rock climbing, and bicycling.
WILDLIFE: Bighorn sheep, mountain
lion, bobcat, coyote, jackrabbit, roadrunner, desert tortoise,
sidewinder rattlesnake, kangaroo rat, burrowing owl, Gambel’s quail,
yucca night lizard, and tarantula.
PLANT LIFE: Joshua tree, California
fan palm (at oases), pinyon pine, cottonwood, creosote bush, smoke
tree, mesquite, ironwood; ocotillo, Palo Verde, barrel, Bigelow cholla,
and dozens of other cacti; sand verbena, desert dandelion, and evening
TRAVEL TIPS: Most popular time to
visit is during the wildflower season, February through April
(depending on the rainfall), and after summer temperatures decline from
October through November. Campers marvel at stargazing opportunities.
Flash flooding may occur after even brief rain showers. In all seasons,
carry plenty of water (1 gallon per day per person). Watch for open
mine shafts and prospect holes.
DIRECTIONS: From I-10 (LA to the
west, Indio to the east), take 62 to the north and follow the signs to
the Joshua Tree National Park entrances. Nearest airport: Palm Springs.