Joshua Tree is an unincorporated Community in San Bernardino County. Most of the Community is between 2500 and 3500 feet above sea level. There are about 8,000 year-round residents: It is Home to musicians; lots of recording studios; sculptors in wood, stone and metal; poets; painters; installation artists; performance artists and more. It is also Home to the Desert Tortoise (an Endangered Species), as well as bobcats, coyotes, mountain lions and desert bighorn sheep. If you watch the skies, you are likely to see Prairie Falcons, Red Tail Hawks, Turkey Vultures and maybe even a Golden Eagle. Joshua Tree is a rural place with few lights, and so a brilliant night sky with the Milky Way visible most nights. The area is also rich in history, from the petroglyphs, grinding stones and pottery sherds left by Native Americans thousands of years ago, to the dilapidated ranches and mines established not much more than 150 years ago.
Joshua Tree National Park is over 800,000 acres big, and most of it is designated Wilderness. There is NO water for you in the Park – there is not much out there and what there is, is reserved for wildlife, so bring what you need, and then a bit more. Please do not “leave your mark” anywhere: no graffiti, no carving, no cairns (thanks!). Joshua Trees are not really trees and are actually quite fragile, so please do not sit/stand/climb on or in them, and do not tie a hammock, slack line, your dog, or anything else to them. It is illegal to fly drones in the Park, so please leave yours at home, or at least in the car! When you cross paths with any wildlife, please keep your distance and only observe and photograph – please do not get close, and, seriously, do not pick them up (and for Pete’s Sake, do not feed them!). Also, pets are allowed in the Park, but they must stay within 100 feet of the campgrounds, picnic areas and roadside pullouts, and always on a leash. Campfires are allowed, but ONLY in the fire rings at established campsites (You must bring your own firewood – no collecting in the Park – Do NOT leave fires unattended, please!). There are good reasons for all these rules, so please abide by them.
A few words about the Desert Tortoise: The Desert Tortoise is an endangered species, protected under federal and state laws. It is a crime to harm or harass them. Although they have survived since the Pleistocene Era, they are now slowly disappearing from the landscape, due mostly to human-induced changes in their environment. If you encounter a Tortoise in your travels, consider yourself lucky! Please observe from a distance and don’t pick it up or otherwise interfere with it. If it is in the road, please stop and just let it pass, act as a crossing guard for it if there is traffic. If this is not enough, then you can move it “low and slow” in the direction it was heading. If you find an injured animal, please find a Park Ranger or call the Park Service for help (760-367-5500). If you find a Tortoise outside the Park, injured or in distress, please contact the Desert Tortoise Rescue, 760-490-2818 or http://www.deserttortoiserescue.org/
For more information about the Desert Tortoise, check out the following organizations:
Joshua Tree National Park Information
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park Association
Lost Horse Weather Station (current conditions near Hidden Valley)
Belle Mountain webcam and Air Quality Station
Camping in the Park:
There are many first-come-first-serve campsites in the Park, but many others can be reserved. For campsite reservations in Joshua Tree National Park (and all other National Parks and Federal Lands) visit www.Recreation.gov
Reservation campgrounds: Black Rock; Indian Cove; Sheep Pass (group sites only); Cottonwood
First-come-first-serve campgrounds: Hidden Valley; Ryan; Jumbo Rocks; Belle; White Tank
Back-Country Camping is allowed in the Park, but not just anywhere. Large areas of the Park are day-use only, so no camping . . . these areas include most of the Wonderland of Rocks, Queen Mountain, Quail Mountain, and other areas. These day-use only areas are designated to protect wildlife habits and habitat – Please respect these boundaries. Please consult with the Park Service or a local Outdoor Business for more information.
Where camping is allowed, camps must be one mile from any road, and 500 feet from any trail. NO FIRES!! Cook stoves only. Pack out all your trash (including your toilet paper, please!).
You can leave your car parked over-night, but ONLY at a Back-Country Board, and you are asked to register at these places as well. The “permit” is just you leaving information (no fee) about where you are going, for how long, how many in your group, and which vehicle is yours . . . this lets the Park Service know whether you are overdue, whether they should come looking for you, and where they should start looking – it’s a safety thing so it’s a good thing.
Other places to camp . . .
Joshua Tree Lake Campground
BLM Areas – there is free, “dispersed” camping allowed in
Bureau of Land Management Areas outside the Park. There are
NO SERVICES in these areas. Please consult with the
Park Service or a local Outdoor Business for information.
Pets in the Park
(INSERT PARK PSA ON PETS)
Climbing & Bouldering Beta
Joshua Tree National Park is a world-class climbing & bouldering destination. There are over 8,000 named climbs in the Park, more than 3,000 named bouldering problems, and certainly more to come of both. Most of the climbs are trad, because they are. There are also some bolted routes, and some sport routes. (If your guide, guide book or app doesn’t clearly say it’s a sport route, then it isn’t. The climb is probably run-out between bolts, and the bolts are not necessarily where you might like to find them.)
We rent bouldering pads and guidebooks. (you can rent shoes at Nomad Ventures). We can give you lots of beta, but here are some bits of information that might help you get started . . .
The “easy problems” are not all in the same place (neither are all the “hard” ones). The batholith didn’t have that in mind when it erupted as magma a million years ago, taking its time to harden and erode into the endless playground we enjoy today. Most of the rock here is monzo-granite or gneiss (pronounced “nice” even though it really isn’t). Generally made of large crystals, this stuff is abrasive and offers high friction: great for footwork (trust your feet and keep your “nose over your toes”), but not good to your hands, and not at all good to anything that gets dragged over it. (See our repair services; see also http://flophouseresoles.com/)
Please respect all closures: they are not intended to crush your experience, but to protect archeological, historic and wildlife sites.
Climber Coffee: Bring your own mug for free coffee, tea and hot chocolate offered up by the Park Service every Saturday and Sunday morning from mid-October to early-May, 8-10 a.m. at the Hidden Valley Campground near Intersection Rock. This meet-and-greet is hosted by the Park’s Climbing Ranger and offers a cool mingle with other climbers from near and far. (Climber Coffee is supported and sponsored by local businesses; Joshua Tree Outfitters, Flophouse Resoles, Coyote Corner Giftshop, Cliffhanger Guides and Friends of Joshua Tree).
Bolting: You cannot just go and do it. Please respect that there are good reasons for regulating this activity. This link is the best place for information on bolting in the National Park.
No chipping, no gluing. It’s illegal in the Park. Please, just don’t. If you feel you need to do these things, then you need to go elsewhere. But really, it’s not cool anywhere, so please, just don’t.
Joshua Tree Outfitters
Rent Crash Pads, Guidebooks and get beta.
We also rent camping equipment and sell hand-made chalk bags, cool souvenirs, local art and useful stuff for being outside.
Rent climbing shoes here.
Buy your ropes, harnesses and other gear here.
Staffed by local climbers with beta.
Anymore there are too many to list, but we suggest you start with these:
Joshua Tree Rock Climbing School https://www.joshuatreerockclimbing.com/
Advocates for Climbers and Climber Access
Access Fund: If you climb, you should be a member.
Friends of Joshua Tree (FOJT):
HARP: Hardware/Anchor Replacement Project
This handful of local volunteers spends its time replacing manky bolts and anchors in Joshua Tree. Donations are happily accepted with much gratitude and can be made through FOJT.
(specify that your donation is intended for HARP.)
Hospitals & Urgent Care
Hi-Desert Medical Center – Emergency Room Open 24/7
760-366-3711, 6601 White Feather Road
Located at Hwy. 62 and White Feather Road, about 3 miles east of Park Blvd (turn right onto Hwy. 62). There’s a traffic light at White Feather and a big sign that says “Hospital.”
Avalon Urgent Care Center –
Open Mon-Fri, 8am-7pm; Sat & Sun, 9am-4pm.
760-365-0851, 58471 Hwy 62
Loca ted in Yucca Valley on Hwy 62 at Avalon Ave, about 5 miles west of Park Blvd (turn left onto Hwy 62).
Laundry, Water & Showers
Joshua Tree Laundromat
Open 7 days, 7am-7pm, 61627 Hwy 62
Coyote Corner Gift Shop
Open weekdays, 9am-6pm, Sat & Sun, 9am-7pm
Water to fill your containers, and clean, hot showers for quarters. Cool stuff for sale too!
Groceries & Convenience Stores: We recommend these locally owned and operated shops:
The Joshua Tree Health Food Store
Sam’s Market – a small, locally owned and operated grocery store –
great folks with a full selection to get you through your stay, and prices competitive with big-box groceries.
61380 29 Palms Hwy, Joshua Tree (next to the Post Office)
Mike’s Jr. Market
61739 29 Palms Hwy, Joshua Tree
Indian Cove Market
69131 29 Palms Hwy, Twentynine Palms
(near Indian Cove Camp Ground)
Restaurants & Bars: We recommend these locally owned and operated eateries:
The Country Kitchen
Pie for the People
Sam’s Indian Cuisine (also good Pizza, sandwiches and burgers)
Royal Siam Cuisine Thai Restaurant
The Joshua Tree Saloon
An eclectic mix of locals, climbers, bikers, Marines and tweakers.
Good food, live music every night, including Open-Mic and Karaoke.
The Crossroads Café
The Natural Sisters’ Café
The Park Rock Café (sponsor to the Joshua Tree Clean Team)
Other Businesses that can help you out . . .
Joshua Tree Bicycle Shop
Rent Fat Bikes and Mountain Bikes here!
Expert repairs and sales.
Get beta here about the best tracks and how to find them.
You can ship your own bike here and they will assemble and service it, and have it ready when you get here – this shop is the real deal!
Things to do and Places to go Outside the National Park
(test the limits of your rental car . . . )
Big Morongo Canyon Preserve: This 31,000-acre preserve includes one of the largest intact cottonwood/willow riparian habitats in California. This oasis is an important wildlife corridor and a critical stop in the Pacific Flyway. With almost 300 different species of birds sighted, it is internationally known as a place to see uncommon and even rare birds. Take a hike and see cool things! It’s Free!
Mojave Preserve, the Kelso Sand Dunes and the Kelso Depot
This National Preserve encompasses the Singing Kelso Dunes, volcanic cinder cones, Joshua Tree forests, and carpets of wildflowers within its 1.6 million acres. Its canyons, mountains and mesas reveal long-abandoned mines, homesteads, and rock-walled military outposts.
The Kelso Dunes rise as high as 700 feet above the surrounding terrain. Make the trek to the top and slide down to hear them sing.
Besides all this, there is the Kelso Depot. Built in 1923, this grand train depot was saved from demolition and then restored. It now serves as the elegant visitor center for the Mojave National Preserve.
The Amboy Crater
This crater and the surrounding lava fields are the remnants of an extinct volcano. It last erupted about 10,000 years ago. The isolated cinder-cone was a popular stop for travelers on Route 66. There is NO Water, only a few trails with just a couple of shade structures along the way. This is a very cool hike anytime from late fall to early spring, but give it a miss during the summer.
Mitchell Caverns State Park/Providence Mountains
This little-known gem of the California State Park System offers Ranger-guided tours of the limestone caves known as Mitchell Caverns. Visitor Center and camping near the Caverns. Primitive camping (no services) and hiking all about the surrounding Providence Mountains. Check it out!
The Mojave Road
“Used by Indians to transport goods from the southwest to trade with the Chumash and other coastal tribes, this route later served the cause of westward expansion. Military forts were established along the route to protect key water sources and provide assistance for travelers. Today it is a popular four-wheel drive road.”
Seriously, this is a 4WD-only road – if you take this trip, do a bunch of research and make sure you are prepared. And don’t count on your cell-phone – service is intermittent at best.
The Art of Noah Purifoy
An internationally acclaimed assemblage sculptor, Noah Purifoy lived in Joshua Tree from 1987 until his death in 2004. The Noah Purifoy Foundation preserves and maintains Mr. Purifoy’s property for public appreciation. www.noahpurifoy.com
Joshua Tree Southern Railroad Museum
This Non-profit Museum is on private property in Joshua Tree. It is too cool, with trains operating on 15” and 7 ½” gauge and G-scale tracks, standard gauge cars on-site, and more. Tours by appointment. Contact the Museum via the link.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
“The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway—the world’s largest rotating tram car—travels over two-and-one-half miles along the breathtaking cliffs of Chino Canyon, transporting riders to the pristine wilderness of the Mt. San Jacinto State Park. During your approximately ten-minute journey, tram cars rotate slowly, offering picturesque and spectacular vistas of the valley floor below. Once you reach the Mountain Station—elevation 8,516 feet—enjoy two restaurants, observation decks, natural history museum, two documentary theaters, gift shop and over 50 miles of hiking trails.”
Palm Springs Air Museum
“The Palm Springs Air Museum is a living history museum dedicated to educating the public about the role Air Power played in preserving American liberties and way of life. The Museum preserves, exhibits, and flies aircraft from World War Two, Korea, and the Vietnam Wars. Most of the aircraft are in flyable condition. Many of our docents are veterans and are willing to share their experiences and sacrifices for the education of future generations.”
“This one-of-a-kind 38-foot high, 55-foot diameter, all wood dome was designed to be an electrostatic generator for the purpose of rejuvenation and time travel.” No kidding.
General Patton’s Training Camps:
“The Mojave Desert, a ‘wasteland’ with easy railroad access, seemed to General George S. Patton to be an excellent place to train his troops during World War II. In early 1942, Patton established the Desert Training Center, and stationed troops throughout the Mojave.”
The Hi-Desert Nature Museum
Cool Events and Organizations –
Meet local artists and learn some of their techniques at this free event, every Sunday morning from 9 to 11 am, at the Cap Rock Picnic Area in the Park. The event features local artists sharing their inspiration and creative thoughts. Bring your own mug and enjoy a free cup of tea while finding out how the art community promotes, preserves and is inspired by the beauty of the Park.
The Desert Institute
The Desert Institute offers outdoor field classes for adult learners in cultural history, natural science, survival skills, desert naturalist studies, citizen science, and creative arts. Click the link below for course listings, schedules and costs. Discounts for members of the Joshua Tree National Park Visitor Assoc.
Farmers’ Market in Joshua Tree
Saturdays, 8 am to 1 pm at Highway 62 and Sunset.
(2 Blocks west of Park Blvd.)
Morongo Basin Arts Council; Art Studio Tours
Joshua Tree Music Festival
“These intimate, family friendly experiences in the magical Mojave go deep to create positive and meaningful life-changing moments. The music is diverse, positive and potent; featuring artists on the rise. A happy, loving and egalitarian space is created, where the boundary between artist and audience is blurred. We’re all in this together.”
Grove’s Cabin Live Theater
“This small, intimate venue has a long history of critically acclaimed productions that have garnered many awards.”
Hi Desert Cultural Center
Pappy & Harriette’s
“The best honky-tonk west of the Mississippi.”
Joshua Tree Saloon
An eclectic mix of locals, climbers, bikers and Marines. Good food, live music every night, including Open-Mic and Karaoke.
The Beatnik Lounge
random festivities …
Organizations worth your time:
Mojave Desert Land Trust
The Access Fund
If you are a climber, you should be a member.
The Joshua Tree Clean Team
This group of local volunteers picks up trash in and around Joshua Tree. Please help out by not littering (not even cigarette butts), and also by picking up any trash you find (including cigarette butts). The Clean Team is supported & sponsored by these local businesses: Joshua Tree Outfitters, Coyote Corner Gift Shop, Park Rock Café, Z107.7 Radio; and San Bernardino County.
Meteor Showers & other cool stuff in the Joshua Tree Night Sky
International Space Station visible fly-overs
Sky’s the Limit Observatory
Southern California Desert Video Astronomers
This group of amateur astronomers uses high-tech video cameras to observe the night sky, capturing images of deep-sky objects and projecting them on large screens. They also bring telescopes to their regular events held at the Joshua Tree Lake Campground. Bring your chair and your favorite snacks and beverages for some very cool night sky experiences. Follow the link for a calendar of events and more info.
UFOs . . . . oh yeah, we have weird stuff in our night sky . . .
here’s a good video to get you started . . .
Lodging . . . don’t want to camp? Here are Places we recommend:
Sacred Sands B&B http://sacredsands.com/
Desert Lily B&B http://www.thedesertlily.com/
Joshua Tree Highlands Houses
Cozy Coyote https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/8956489
Harmony Motel – U-2 stayed here! http://www.harmonymotel.com/
Joshua Tree Inn – Gram Parsons stayed here!
Hi-Desert Hotel http://www.highdesertmotel.com/
Bonita Domes http://www.bonitadomes.com/
Staying at an Air BNB or HipCamp? Please be mindful and respectful of your neighbors and practice appropriate Desert Etiquette:
Please keep your music, lights and fires low.
Please keep your pets with you – don’t let them roam, and don’t leave
them alone when/where they might bark and howl.
Please don’t trespass on the neighbor’s place.
Please don’t pilfer plants, rocks or other stuff.
Please don’t fly your drones around the neighborhood.
Please don’t litter, that means cigarette butts too.
Please drive and park only where you are supposed to, and with
consideration for your neighbors.
This article by one of our own, Chris Clark, has helpful tips on how to chill in the Desert.