Joshua Tree National Park


California > Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is popular with the more thoughtful traveler, since there is no spectacular central attraction as is the case with many other Southwest parks, just many square miles of wild, unspoilt desert scenery. Two factors make the park special; the eerie, spiky Joshua trees which grow densely in the western half, and the extensive outcrops of huge granite boulders, up to 100 feet high, which line the mountain ranges scattered over the whole area. Other prime attractions are six oases where California fan palm trees grow in their natural surroundings, all reachable by trail. This is not a place just to drive through, instead visitors should explore for a while away from the roads - climb some rocks or walk amongst the trees and cacti, but most of all spend a night here and watch the sun set. The Joshuas are especially atmospheric and spooky at dusk, when their stark, irregular outlines become quite menacing.


Joshua Tree, for many years a national monument, was promoted to a National Park in 1994, along with nearby Death Valley, and was extended by 230,000 acres, mainly remote mountainous regions at the south and east edges. The land lies at the transition between the Sonoran and Mojave deserts, and has vegetation and scenery representative of both. Besides the trees, rocks and oases, the park also has many hiking trails, a network of 4WD routes, several historic sites and half a dozen picturesque campgrounds.

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A Joshua tree
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Old machinery
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Shallow pool
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Alcove view

The national park can be reached from the south from a junction of I-10, or from the north by two roads that fork off CA 62, starting from the towns of Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms - see area map. But the best approach, if applicable, is the westward drive along CA 62 from Parker in Arizona, 108 miles away. This follows the Santa Fe railroad for a while, then crosses empty lands typical of the Mojave Desert, past sand dunes, dried lake beds and rugged mountains, en route to Twentynine Palms. Near the town, on both CA 62 and the parallel Amboy Road are found many abandoned buildings, at quite widely-spaced intervals over a distance of several miles, which give the whole area a rather sad, mournful air, especially near sunset.

Featured Joshua Tree Trails


Barker Dam
Barker Dam
★★★★
1.2 miles, 40 feet (loop)
The loop hike past the small, seasonal pool formed by Barker Dam also encounters plenty of Joshua trees, and a petroglyph panel
Fortynine Palms Oasis
Fortynine Palms Oasis
★★★★
1.6 miles, 300 feet
This relatively easy and quite popular path climbs to the top of a barren ridge overlooking the town of Twentynine Palms then drops down to a sizeable group of California fan palms
Lost Palms Oasis
Lost Palms Oasis
★★★★★
4 miles, 450 feet
Perhaps the best day hike in Joshua Tree National Park, the route to the fan palm trees and pools at Lost Palms Oasis encounters rocky ridges, sandy washes, many Sonoran desert cacti and granite boulders
Lost Horse Mine
Lost Horse Mine
★★★★
2 miles, 480 feet
On the road to Keys View, a side track branches westwards ending after a mile at a small parking area at the edge of 5,178 foot Lost Horse Mountain, from where a trail (also once a vehicle track) ascends to the summit, en route passing several restored buildings from the Lost Horse Mine
Queen Mountain
Queen Mountain
★★★★★
2 miles, 1100 feet
From the end of a side road across Queen Valley, a little-used trail climbs the steep southern slope of Queen Mountain, ending at an elevated viewpoint near the summit
Rattlesnake Canyon
Rattlesnake Canyon
★★★★★
1.2 miles, 400 feet
A faint path enters the lower end of Rattlesnake Canyon, near the Indian Cove campground, and follows the narrow drainage into the north section of the Wonderland of Rocks
Ryan Mountain
Ryan Mountain
★★★★
1.5 miles, 1060 feet
Ryan Mountain is a somewhat isolated yet easily reached peak surrounded by open plains so the views from its summit are some of the best in the park
Highlights: Mountains, valleys and plains at the transition between the Sonoran and Mohave deserts; the western half of the park features magnificent forests of the Joshua tree, plus many cacti, set amongst large outcrops of weathered granite boulders
Nearest city with hotels: Twentynine Palms
Management: NPS
Location: 34.078, -116.036 (north entrance) 33.674, -115.801 (south entrance)
Seasons: All year, though summers are very hot
Weather:

Joshua Tree - Regions and Trails



The West
Scenic drives and places to see in the west, the most visited section of the park; many Joshua trees, plus mountains, rock formations, campgrounds and trailheads
The East
Roads and viewpoints in the lower elevation areas of east, where the land is generally emptier, with fewer Joshua trees
Hiking
Index of all major trails in the park. Featured trails are listed below
The Joshua Tree
General information, and distribution map
Joshua Tree NP Maps: general features, trails

Joshua Tree - Photography



Photograph Galleries: QTVR Panoramas:
Joshua Tree NP is part of the California Deserts itinerary
Pinterest




Joshua Tree National Park Hotels


Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Twentynine Palms/Joshua Tree
The 75 room & suite, AAA 3 diamond Holiday Inn Express Twentynine Palms/Joshua Tree at 71809, Twentynine Palms Highway has a desert setting with many rooms enjoying uninterrupted views south towards the Joshua Tree Wilderness. The hotel is less than two miles from the Oasis visitor center and the Joshua Tree National Park headquarters, and a mile from the town center where most of the shops & restaurants are found.

Check rates at the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Twentynine Palms


Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Twentynine Palms/Joshua Tree
Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Twentynine Palms
More hotels in Twentynine Palms, and a map of the town

Other nearby towns with hotels: Indio, Blythe, Yucca Valley, Parker (AZ)



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