Joshua Tree National Park Travel Guide

One of America’s most unique, beautiful and uncrowded national parks, Joshua Tree is located in the southeastern corner of California, where the Mojave and Colorado deserts come together. Internationally known thanks to U2 adopting the name as an album title, few international tourists may the trip here. Although the park is surrounded by empty desert, it is still just over 124 miles (200kms) east of Los Angeles and a quick 40-minute drive from posh Palm Springs.

Named after the twisted otherworldly trees that dot the dry barren landscape, Joshua Tree was declared a national park in 1994. A mixture of two unique deserts, the cooler Mojave and the hotter and drier Colorado, Joshua Tree a paradise for rock climbers, bird-watchers, hikers and campers.

The main northern entrance to the park is located at Twentynine Palms Oasis, a traditional village site for the Serrano Native American tribe. This is where you’ll find the Oasis Visitor Center, which will help you get your bearings with maps and information. A network of dirt roads, natural attractions and camping sites cover the surrounding desert, offering as much isolation and adventure as you can handle.

Joshua Tree attractions

Cottonwood Springs: near the southern entrance to the park is this well-developed campground, shaded by palms. Nearby is the trailhead for the challenging hike to Lost Palms Oasis.

Rattlesnake Canyon: while the sound of rattlesnakes may be all you hear echoing among the rocks here, the crashing of water breaks the silence after rainfall.

Jumbo Rocks: a one and a half mile interpretive nature trail offering an easy introduction to the massive array of bizarre rock formations, Joshua trees and Yucca plants that dot this desert valley.

Keys View: road is a dead-end from where you can enjoy sweeping vistas over the desert and see southern California’s highest and lowest points.

Pinto Basin: this flat, empty lowland is highlighted by sand dunes, providing a good feel of what the Colorado Desert region is all about.

Wonderland of Rocks: giant granite boulders are strewn like children’s blocks over a 12 square mile area creating a maze-like environment filled with hidden water pools and pockets of wildlife.