Why You Should Visit Joshua Tree National Park

Rumor has it that Joshua Trees got their name from the Mormons traveling through the area who spotted the plant and thought it looked like the prophet Joshua pointing to the promised land. Whether or not this is true has been debated, but what shouldn’t be debated is that you should be planning to visit Joshua Tree National Park right now. We will point you to why.

Backpacker balancing on the rocks in Joshua Tree National Park
A backpacker balances precariously on the rocks in Joshua Tree

Cool Rock Formations

The Tectonic plates colliding thousands of years ago have created a playground for rock climbers, scramblers, and those just enamored with staring at all the interesting formations. There are some special rocks you can’t miss, like Skull Rock, and then there are areas where you could get lost for days in piles of granite, like the Wonderland of Rocks. If you want to do something a bit adventurous, hire a climbing guide for a day. Many companies, like Cliffhanger Guides, have been leading people on rock climbing adventures for years. Step out of your comfort zone and step onto the grippy granite; you won’t regret it!

Even Cooler Trees and Vegetation

The Joshua Tree, even though technically not a tree, is one of the park’s main attractions. These members of the Yucca family dot the landscape and make you feel like you are part of a Dr. Seuss book-turned-real-life. Keep exploring the park, and you’ll discover that there is so much fascinating flora beyond the Joshua Tree. The cholla cactus, which can be like a pencil or deceptively like a teddy bear, is fun to look at, but don’t touch! After a good rain, the desert comes alive with thousands of wildflowers and the smell of the creosote bush. Come for the Joshua Tree, stay for the flowers and cacti galore!

The Weather

When other parks drastically drop the number of visitors they receive after Summer, Joshua Tree brings them in. The seasons to visit are the Fall and Spring when the weather is very agreeable, ranging from 60s during the day and only dropping to 40s at night. Winter is also very nice, but expect a few chilly nights and maybe a dusting of snow in higher elevations. Summer means ‘stay away.’

View of San Gorgonio from Joshua Tree National Park.
View of snow-capped mountains, including San Gorgonio, from Joshua Tree National Park

The Hiking is Unreal

Where else can you hike past five types of cacti en route to an abandoned mine, spotting climbers along the way? The variety doesn’t stop there. There’s actually a dam, ancient petroglyphs from some of the native tribes, and even palm tree oases. If you’re new to the park, let us show you all the ‘can’t miss’ spots on our Classic Camping trip. Your only worry will be taking photos of the stellar sunset.

Joshua Tree under a starry night

International Dark Sky Park

The things to do in the park don’t stop when the sun goes down. In fact, Joshua Tree is an internationally recognized Dark Sky Park, meaning you will see WAY more stars here than you ever thought possible. After dinner and s’mores around the campfire on our Classic Camping or a 4-day Backpacking Trip, lay down and feast your eyes upon shooting stars and the Milky Way before falling asleep.

Pioneertown, CA

There’s Even More to See Outside the Park

If a day of hiking followed by shopping and good food sounds ideal, then the main square on 29 Palms Highway in Yucca Valley is perfect after the park. Coyote Corner has those quaint gifts for that quirky cousin. And stickers. So many stickers. If you need more gear or forgot something at home, walk across the street to Nomad Adventures. If they don’t have it, you don’t need it. Of course, all of the hiking and adventuring has got your hunger going, so visit the Sky High Pie for a nice slice or sit down for a beer and burger at the Joshua Tree Saloon. Those who have extra steam in their engines should make the drive to Pioneertown to visit Pappy & Harriet’s. This spot has great BBQ, an abandoned ghost town movie set, a motel, and many musicians have had impromptu sets here over the years, from Paul McCartney to the Arctic Monkeys to Lizzo, to name a few.

There are many reasons to visit Joshua Tree National Park; the real question is, what has taken you so long? Visit our Joshua Tree page for options to make your time in the park the most enjoyable!

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