Joshua Tree Travel Guide

Discover the beauty of Joshua Tree with our helpful and informative tour guide. From must-see attractions to hiking routes and food scene, we've got you covered.

Introduction to Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree National Park is located in the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert in Southern California. The park is popular for its unique and beautiful landscape, which is characterized by its namesake Joshua trees, rugged rock formations, and scenic vistas. Whether you’re a nature lover, an adventure seeker, a history buff, or a culture enthusiast, Joshua Tree has something for everyone. In this guide, we’ll cover the best places to visit, things to do, where to stay, and more.

List of Places to Visit in Joshua Tree

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

Joshua Tree Visitor Center

The Joshua Tree Visitor Center is a must-visit attraction if you want to learn about the park’s natural and cultural history. Here, you can find exhibits, brochures, maps, and other resources to help plan your trip.

Keys Ranch

Keys Ranch is a historic homestead that offers a glimpse into life in the desert from the early 1900s to the mid-1960s. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and guided tours are available.

Hi-Desert Nature Museum

The Hi-Desert Nature Museum is a small but informative museum that showcases the natural history and cultural heritage of the Morongo Basin. The exhibits cover a wide range of topics, including geology, desert plants and animals, Native American history, mining, and more.

Natural Attractions of Joshua Tree: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

Hidden Valley

Hidden Valley is a popular spot for rock climbing, hiking, and picnicking. The valley is surrounded by towering rock formations that provide an awe-inspiring backdrop for your outdoor adventure.

Barker Dam Trail

The Barker Dam Trail is a scenic hiking trail that leads to a historic dam built by cattle ranchers in the early 1900s. Along the way, you can enjoy stunning views of the Joshua Tree landscape and possibly spot some wildlife.

Keys View

Keys View is a scenic overlook that offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Coachella Valley and the San Andreas Fault. On a clear day, you can even see the Salton Sea in the distance.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Joshua Tree

Ryan Mountain Trail

The Ryan Mountain Trail is a challenging but rewarding hike that offers panoramic views of the Joshua Tree landscape. The trail is about 3 miles roundtrip, with an elevation gain of 1,050 feet.

Lost Palms Oasis Trail

The Lost Palms Oasis Trail is a scenic hike that leads to a hidden oasis in the desert. Along the way, you can see stunning rock formations and possibly spot some wildlife. The trail is about 7.2 miles roundtrip, with an elevation gain of 810 feet.

Geology Tour Road

The Geology Tour Road is a scenic drive that takes you through some of the park’s most unique geologic formations. The road is about 18 miles long, with stops at various viewpoints and geological formations.

Best Things to Do in Joshua Tree: Activities and Tours


Joshua Tree is known for its dark skies, making it a perfect destination for stargazing. You can either bring your own telescope or join a guided stargazing tour.

Rock Climbing

Joshua Tree is a world-renowned rock climbing destination, with over 8,000 climbing routes. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced climber, there’s a route for you.

Photography Tours

Joshua Tree’s unique landscape is a photographer’s dream. You can join a guided photography tour to learn about the best spots to take pictures and get tips on composition and lighting.

Week-Long Itinerary for Joshua Tree

Day Activity
1 Visit the Joshua Tree Visitor Center and hike the Hidden Valley Trail.
2 Take a guided tour of Keys Ranch and hike the Barker Dam Trail.
3 Explore the Hi-Desert Nature Museum and drive the Geology Tour Road.
4 Hike the Ryan Mountain Trail and stargaze at night.
5 Try rock climbing with a guided tour or on your own.
6 Join a photography tour and visit Keys View.
7 Relax and enjoy the park’s scenic views or try another activity at your leisure.

Food and Drink Scene of Joshua Tree

Must-Try Dishes

Pappy and Harriet’s

Pappy and Harriet’s is a iconic restaurant and music venue located just outside the park’s entrance. The restaurant serves up delicious BBQ and other American fare, with vegetarian options available.

Crossroads Cafe

Crossroads Cafe is a cozy cafe that serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The menu features organic and locally-sourced ingredients, with options for vegetarians and vegans.

Joshua Tree Saloon

The Joshua Tree Saloon is a casual spot for pub fare and drinks. They also offer live music on weekends.

Local Beverages

Joshua Tree Coffee Company

The Joshua Tree Coffee Company is a cozy coffee shop that serves up specialty coffees and teas, as well as baked goods and sandwiches.

La Copine Kitchen

La Copine Kitchen is a popular brunch spot that also serves up craft cocktails and beer.

Where to Stay in Joshua Tree: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

Joshua Tree House

Joshua Tree House is a stylish and cozy guesthouse that’s perfect for a desert getaway. The property features two guesthouses, each with a kitchen, living room, and private outdoor space.

Mojave Sands Motel

The Mojave Sands Motel is a chic and modern motel that offers a peaceful oasis in the desert. The rooms are minimalist but stylish, with a mid-century modern vibe.


JTR is a hostel that offers dormitory-style accommodations as well as private rooms. The hostel has a communal kitchen, living room, and outdoor space for guests to enjoy.

What to Buy in Joshua Tree: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

Mojave Flea Trading Post

The Mojave Flea Trading Post is a pop-up market that features local artisans and makers. Here, you can find unique and handmade items such as pottery, jewelry, clothing, and more.

Coyote Corner

Coyote Corner is a souvenir shop located just outside the park’s entrance. The shop offers a variety of Joshua Tree-themed souvenirs and gifts, including t-shirts, hats, postcards, and magnets.

Local Culture and Customs of Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree’s local culture is shaped by its unique landscape and its history as a gathering place for artists, musicians, and free spirits. The park is known for its laid-back and low-key vibe, and visitors are encouraged to be respectful of the environment and the local community.

Best Time to Visit Joshua Tree

The best time to visit Joshua Tree is in the spring or fall, when the weather is mild and the crowds are smaller. Summer can be extremely hot, with temperatures reaching above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Winter can be chilly, with temperatures dropping below freezing at night.

Do’s and Don’ts of Joshua Tree


  • Bring plenty of water and sunscreen.
  • Respect the environment and pack out all trash.
  • Follow park rules and regulations.
  • Be prepared for sudden changes in weather.


  • Remove rocks or plants from the park.
  • Build fires outside of designated areas.
  • Camp or park off-road.
  • Leave pets unattended or off-leash.

Safety and Health

Safety in Joshua Tree

Visitors to Joshua Tree should be aware of the potential dangers of the desert environment, including extreme heat, flash floods, and poisonous wildlife. It’s important to be prepared and stay hydrated, especially during hot weather. Visitors should also stay on designated trails and be cautious when climbing rocks or exploring the wilderness.

Health in Joshua Tree

Visitors to Joshua Tree should be aware of the potential health risks associated with exposure to the desert environment, including sunburn, dehydration, and heatstroke. It’s important to bring plenty of sunscreen, water, and protective clothing, and to take breaks in the shade if needed. Visitors with pre-existing health conditions should consult their healthcare provider before visiting the park.

Getting to Joshua Tree: Transportation Options and Logistics

Airports Near Joshua Tree

The nearest airport to Joshua Tree is Palm Springs International Airport, which is about an hour’s drive from the park. Other nearby airports include Ontario International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport, both of which are about two hours’ drive from the park.

Bus Stations Near Joshua Tree

There are no bus stations located directly in Joshua Tree, but there are several stations in nearby towns such as Yucca Valley and Twentynine Palms. Visitors can take a bus to one of these towns and then rent a car or take a taxi to the park.

Other Options

Visitors can also travel to Joshua Tree by car or by joining a guided tour. There are several tour companies that offer guided tours of the park, as well as activities such as rock climbing and stargazing.

How to Get Around in Joshua Tree

The best way to get around in Joshua Tree is by car. The park has several scenic drives, as well as parking areas and pullouts at popular attractions. Visitors can also hike or bike on designated trails, or take a guided tour with a local tour company.

Where to Go Next from Joshua Tree: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

Palm Springs

Palm Springs is a popular destination located about an hour’s drive from Joshua Tree. The city is known for its mid-century modern architecture, hot springs, and art galleries.

Salton Sea

The Salton Sea is a unique destination located about two hours’ drive from Joshua Tree. The sea is an inland saline lake that’s popular for fishing, boating, and birdwatching.


Joshua Tree National Park is a unique and beautiful destination that’s worth exploring. From its rugged landscape to its cultural and natural attractions, the park has something for everyone. With this guide, you’ll be prepared to make the most of your trip and have an unforgettable experience in the desert.