A Local’s Guide to Iconic Viewpoints & Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park

Bring some blankets and hiking shoes and get ready for a reminder of the spectacular beauty that is Mother Nature. Joshua Tree National Park offers life at its simplest in the breathtaking open desert.

My favorite thing to do in Joshua Tree involves watching the sun set across the wide landscape of the park and then seeing the stars and Milky Way emerge into the open sky. The sunsets in Joshua Tree are unlike anything I have ever seen. The pinks, the purples, and the blues of the sky put on a show for anyone to admire and watch.

During the day, Joshua Tree offers many hikes and viewpoints that make for great photos.  For instance, Keys View is a short walk up some steps to see a breathtaking view of Coachella Valley.  On the other hand, Ryan Mountain will keep you busy for the day but offers a hike of solitude and beautiful views.

Iconic Viewpoints and Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park:

Best Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park:

Easy Hikes:

Skull Rock

A brief walk from the car will take you to a large amount of rocks with erosions in the granite that produce the look of hollowed-out eyes that resemble a skull.

Barker Dam

This flat and easy 1.3 mile loop is a popular hike that has great views of rock formations, a variety of cacti, and ends with the picturesque Dam.

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/ enjoying a desert oasis & a sunny day /

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Iconic Viewpoints:

Key’s View

A short walk up some stairs will take you to a viewpoint with a spectacular landscape of Coachella Valley.  A must-see and very picturesque spot when visiting this national park.

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*cue Pink Floyd's "Breathe (In the Air)"* 📷:@aandrewbrown

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Cholla Cactus Garden

This unique landscape full of prickly cactuses is an amazing spot to include on your Joshua Tree itinerary.  The Cholla Cactus Garden is a short loop through a beautiful selection of cacti and other views of desert nature.

Indian Cove

Indian Cove acts as a campground and a half mile nature trail with spectacular views of plants and wildlife (maybe you can catch a glimpse of desert tortoise).

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Shop my desert style here: 

 Campgrounds:

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My favorite campground is Jumbo Rocks- 124 sites, first-come, first-served.  This campground has picnic tables, fire rings, and pit toilets. No provided potable water.

I am always very happy with getting a spot at the Jumbo Rocks Campground.  I suggest walking into the backyard of the campground and watching the Milky Way or watching the sunrise on one of the rocks. It is something truly spectacular.

The park and campgrounds get pretty full over the weekend and during peak seasons (late fall and early spring), but by Monday even the most popular site to camp is deserted.

  • White Tank Campground- 18 sites, first-come, first-served. This campground has picnic tables, fire rings, and pit toilets. No provided potable water.
  • Indian Cove Campground- 101 sites (13 group), reservations accepted.  This campground has picnic tables, fire rings, and flush toilets. No provided potable water.
  • Black Rock Campground- 100 sites (2 horse camps), reservations accepted.  This campground has potable water, picnic tables, fire rings, and flush toilets.
  • Hidden Valley Campground- 9 sites, first-come, first-served. This campground has picnic tables, fire rings, and pit toilets. No provided potable water.
  • Sheep Pass Campground- 6 group sites, reservations accepted. This campground has picnic tables, fire rings, and pit toilets. No provided potable water.
  • Cottonwood Campground- 62 sites (3 group sites) first-come, first-served. This campground has potable water, picnic tables, fire rings, and flush toilets.
  • Ryan Campground-  31 sites, first-come, first-served. This campground has picnic tables, fire rings, and pit toilets. No provided potable water.
  • Belle Campground- 15 sites, first-come, first-served. This campground has picnic tables, fire rings, and pit toilets. No provided potable water.

Helpful Tips:

  • Peak Season: Spring
    Low Season: Summer (it will be extremely hot to visit during June-August)
  • Getting there: Take the 10 East freeway towards Palm Springs. Then take 62 East to Joshua Tree.  The Joshua Tree National Park is easily accessible off Highway 62 via Park Blvd.
  • The entrance fee for the JT National Park is $25 per vehicle but includes reentry for 7 days.
  • There little to no cell service in the park so make plans to meet up with friends in a specific location before you enter the park.

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Visiting Salvation Mountain

About an hour away from the park in the art installation Salvation Mountain.  Leonard Knight built Salvation Mountain as a tribute to God and as a gift to the world in order to spread the simple yet powerful message: “Love is Universal.”  It is estimated that over 100,000 gallons of paint has been used so far on Salvation Mountain.

Read more about my visit here!

Joshua Tree offers a great bonding with friends, endless opportunities for exploring and hiking, and a great escape from stress.  The natural beauty of the stars, the trees, and the rocks is a great reminder to de-plug from everything once in a while in order to really enjoy what is right in front of us.

Did I miss one of your favorite hikes in Joshua Tree National Park? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy Camping!

L x

 

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8 thoughts on “A Local’s Guide to Iconic Viewpoints & Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park

  1. I’ve heard so many great things about Joshua Tree. Thanks for all of the tips about the campsites. It sounds very affordable too, which is always a plus.

  2. I appreciate the campground guide here!! Joshua Tree has long been on our list and we’re talking about adding it to our June trip, so some sunsets and beautiful sights may just be in the not-so-distant future!

  3. Such a beautiful national park to visit. Alas, I live in the other part of the world. But I would definitely want to visit here

  4. This is making me so excited! We are going over Valentines day and your photos and write up is getting me amped! Beautiful photos!

  5. I love Joshua Tree soooo much! I’ve only been once, in November, and while amazing, I really want to visit again while the wildflowers are blooming!

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