Where is Joshua Tree National Park Located
Joshua Tree National Park is located within south eastern California. The park is located near Palm Springs and is located east of San Bernardino and Los Angeles. The park is named for the unique vegetation species that commonly grows throughout the area. Joshua trees are a form of yucca native to the Mojave Desert. Visitors arriving at Joshua Tree US National Park will find nine campgrounds, a variety of hiking trails, and areas designated for rock climbing. The park is also a great location for birdwatching, astronomy, and wildlife viewing. Visitors looking to drive to Joshua Tree National Park can reach the park in around two hours and fifteen minutes from Los Angeles, two hours and forty-five minute from San Diego, and fifty minutes from Palm Springs. The national park is also located near several other outdoor recreation areas including Mt. San Jacinto State Park, the San Bernardino National Forest, and the Cleveland National Forest.
How Large is Joshua Tree National Park
The overall area of Joshua Tree National Park covers over 790,000 acres. This extensive territory makes Joshua Tree National Park slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island. The park’s geography consists mostly of two distinct desert zones. The higher and cooler Mojave Desert and the lower and more densely vegetated Colorado Desert both lie within portions of the park. Along with these two desert regions, a large portion of the national park is designated as a protected wilderness zone. In total more than 429,000 acres of Joshua Tree National Park have been granted the designation. The park, and more specifically the defined wilderness area within the park, are havens for a variety of desert wildlife and avian species. The lack of industrialization in the area also creates the perfect backdrop for starry nights and night sky observation activities.
Joshua Tree National Park Weather
According to the Koppen Climate Classification System, Joshua Tree National Park possesses a hot desert climate. Locations equipped with this type of climate receive low annual precipitation and experience extremely hot summers and cool to cold winters. Nighttime and daytime temperatures in the park also drastically differ from each other. Average summer temperatures in Joshua National Park fluctuate between 60- and 100-degrees Fahrenheit. Winter temperatures in the park range between 30- and 65-degrees Fahrenheit. The average annual precipitation in the park is under six inches. Overall, visitors planning a trip to Joshua Tree National Park should be prepared for days of hot and dry weather and nights that are slightly cooler and at times under 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Visitors planning to camp in the park should bring a variety of layers to keep them comfortable throughout their trip.
When Did Joshua Tree Become a National Park
Joshua Tree National Park first became a National Park in 1994. Before becoming a national park, the park was protected as a national monument. The park originally received its protected monument status in 1936. The earliest known residents of the Joshua Tree National Park area were the Pinto People. Their culture mainly consisted of hunting and gathering. Their tools and weapons are consistently found throughout the park. In modern culture, Joshua Tree National Park has been featured in several popular movies and served as the inspiration behind several influential music albums. U2, The Eagles, Selena, and Childish Gambino all have famously featured the national park in their album covers, music videos, or promotional concerts.
Things to do in Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is the epicenter for hiking, camping, rock climbing, and other outdoor activities in the Palm Springs area. Visitors arriving at the park will find more than enough activities to keep them busy throughout their trip. Our National Park Visitors Guide outlines a quick guide to the perfect trip to Joshua Tree National Park listed below:
Start at a Visitor Center
The best place to start all national park adventures is at a visitor center. These facilities contain helpful brochures like park maps and trail guides and employ park staff which can assist with particular questions or concerns. Joshua Tree National Park contains four visitor centers. Visitors can decide between stopping at the Oasis, Joshua Tree, or Cottonwood Visitor Centers or walking into the Black Rock Nature Center to orient themselves with the park and its layout.
Join an Interpretive Program
After checking out one of the park’s visitor centers, visitors should look to join one of the many interpretive programs offered at Joshua Tree National Park. These interpretive programs normally discuss topics related to the park’s ecology, culture, or history. Popular programs offered at Joshua Tree National Park include nature walks and tours of the Keys Ranch. These and the other programs offered at the national park are offered on a rotating schedule. This schedule is normally displayed throughout the park’s visitor centers. However, if you do not see the schedule, park staff working at Joshua Tree National Park can assist you with questions on times and types of programs being offered.
Head to a Hiking Trail
Now that you have learned about the culture, ecology, and history of Joshua Tree National Park is time to start exploring the park on your own. Joshua Tree National Park contains a large array of hiking trails. Several of these trails are located within the backcountry of the park while others are more closely located to other park facilities. Visitors arriving at the park will find hikes perfect for hikers of all skill levels. Popular easy hikes in the park include Barker Dam, the Discovery Trail, or the Hidden Valley Trail. Visitors looking for a more challenging hike can check out the Boy Scout Trail and Lost Horse Loop. Individuals venturing down these two trails or any other of the park’s challenging hikes should be physically fit and comfortable hiking long distances in the heat.
Set up Your Camp
After hiking all day, you will probably want to return to your campsite and set up camp. This part of your trip can also be completed before hiking to ensure that you can rest after you finish on the trail. Camping in Joshua Tree National Park can be done at nine separate established campgrounds. Half of these campgrounds operate on a reservation system, and the other half are available first-come, first-served. Visitors planning to stay at one of the first-come, first-served campsites should arrive early in the day to reserve their site.
Enjoy a Night of Stargazing
After setting up your camp, enjoying a meal around the fire, and watching the sunset, you will probably begin to notice the twinkle of stars over your head. Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most ideal locations to experience night skies because of its lack of infrastructure. On a clear night, visitors can view stars, constellations, planets, and passing meteors at Joshua Tree National Park. The national park even frequently hosts dark sky festivals and other events centered around its International Dark Sky Park status.
Additional Activities at Joshua Tree National Park
While the activities and experiences previously mentioned are enough to keep most visitors active and happy throughout an entire day, some visitors will of course crave more and have different interests. There are a variety of other adventures located within Joshua Tree National Park that visitors can experience. These activities include rock climbing on one of the routes in the park, driving down a backcountry road, searching for wildflowers, and viewing wildlife and avian species found throughout the park. The several visitor centers located within Joshua Tree National Park can provide additional information on any of these activities.
When to Visit Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is open throughout the entire year. Visitors can visit the park in any season, but the park is best visited in early spring and late fall when temperatures are the most conducive to outdoor recreation. Summer temperatures in the park can be a bit too hot for extended hikes and long trips into the backcountry, and even though temperatures do drop in the park at night camping in the summer can be uncomfortable. However, as long as you are properly prepared for the weather and temperatures associated with the particular season you are visiting during, there is not a bad time to visit Joshua Tree National Park.
What to Bring to Joshua Tree National Park
Visitors planning to hike, camp, and otherwise recreate in Joshua Tree National Park will want to bring a variety of items with them to make their trip safe, enjoyable, and memorable. List of Parks highlights the following list which includes several items you should consider bringing while packing for the park.
Vast Quantities of Water
Joshua Tree National Park is located within the desert. Therefore, visitors will want to bring a large supply of water with them to the park. Visitors planning to hike, camp, and otherwise recreate in the park should bring additional quantities of water to keep them hydrated and safe.
Sturdy Hiking Boots
Every visitor of Joshua Tree National Park should also come prepared with wearing a sturdy pair of hiking trails. The trail system within the park contains various routes where unstable terrain is common. Visitors looking for additional comfort should opt to purchase a lightweight pair of hiking boots.
Sport Specific Equipment
Hikers, campers, and rock climbers will need to bring additional equipment along with them to the park. The easiest way to keep track of all of the equipment you will need for these various activities is to create one or more checklists. These checklists can be utilized during preliminary packing and again before leaving for the park.
Visitors looking to explore the park’s ecology will want to bring various field guides with them to Joshua Tree National Park. These field guides can be specifically geared towards wildlife, birds, wildflowers, and geology.
Layers of Clothing
Visitors planning to camp within Joshua Tree National Park should pack several different layers of clothing. Day time temperatures in the park are normally excessively hot. However, nightly temperatures in the park can drop some 20 or 30 degrees fahrenheit. Packing a light sweater is a good call.
Where to Stay in Joshua Tree National Park
Visitors looking to stay within Joshua Tree National Park will want to either make reservations for one of the park’s campgrounds or arrive early to the park to reserve one of the many first-come, first-serve campsites. Visitors looking to stay in a hotel outside of the park can check out options in Palm Springs and the surrounding area.
Food Near Joshua Tree National Park
The closest major confluence of food to Joshua Tree National Park is located in Palm Springs, California. Visitors will find a variety of restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, and bars in the city. Additional restaurants and stores can be found around the Joshua Tree National Park area. However, these areas provide less options and are spread out from one another.
Airports Near Joshua Tree National Park
The closest international airport to Joshua Tree National Park is located in Palm Springs. The Palms Springs International Airport is located 50 minutes away from the national park. Other airports within a two- or three-hour drive from the park are located in San Diego and Los Angeles, California.