National Parks: Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree NPWhy does everyone keep talking about Joshua Tree and what is a Joshua Tree?

I made my first journey to Joshua Tree (JT) last January, not really knowing what to expect but having a general idea of what I would see.

What I didn’t expect was to fall in love with this park. Here’s why you should should too.

Granted you may not live in L.A. (well, neither do I), but everyone is always looking for somewhere to get outta town and they typically don’t want to go far.

2 really great destinations just a short 2 hours drive from Los Angeles is Palm Springs and just little further is Joshua Tree.

Palm Springs is a but more glam and less adventure. JT offers a getaway from all the “city life” and brings you a fresh outlook on nature. Seriously, it rejuvenates you!

Joshua Tree is well, a desert. It’s dry and raise but is full of life. Best times to visit are during late winer and early spring. Temperatures will still be rather cold but if you go at the right time during spring you’ll witness the desert blooms. Some have been lucky to see them in May.

Joshua TreeThe Joshua Tree is a part of the Yucca family which can be tied to the cacti category. It can survive in harsh weather conditions and  high temperatures (such as the desert) and often make it through cold winters. Their life span is long and their root systems are short. It has been said that the Joshua Tree travels the desert in search of water. Be it true or false, I cannot say.

These wild looking trees that look like something Dr. Suess imagined are beautiful. At the end of their life they lie on the desert floor decaying slowly, yet poetically as if they have a story to tell.

end of life

Through out the park Joshua Trees will be scattered; some in patches and some singles few and far between, but there’s more to Joshua Tree than the trees! As you dive further into the park you will begin to notice the mound of rocks. These are no ordinary rocks, they are more like boulders piled atop each other like a jungle gym. This is a climber’s paradise except you don’t have to bring all your climbing equipment (if you don’t want) as many of the rocks are free-climb friendly.

West EntranceThere are special spots that are loved by many:

Skull Rock

The Arch

White Tank

Hall of Horrors

See some of these beloved places from my last trip here

The best part of JT is that you can see the park in about 1.5 days. You could possibly see it all in one day, but I highly suggest staying in the area overnight to see the star show after the sun sets. Depending on the time of year you plan to visit, packing can be pretty simple. Here’s a list of some items to bring along for a day or day and a half trip:

hiking boots/shoes


water bladder (camelback)

small first aid kit

walking sticks (if you plan to hike Ryan’s Mountain, etc.)

sweater (temperatures drop drastically at night)



If you plan to camp in the park, bring blankets! (tent, firewood, etc. if you plan to plain a campsite)

See more photos of Joshua Tree

If this itinerary hasn’t put Joshua Tree on your map yet, let me tell you why I personally love it and why its my favorite park.

Besides the whimsical nature of the trees, I have really enjoyed climbing atop the various boulders around the park. It’s a great way to challenge both your mind and body as you can ascend and descend these formations without ropes. Its like an adult jungle gym/puzzle. Each rock provides a new obstacle to overcome in order to reach the next. Around the park you may find various animals. For me, seeing the tiny coyotes sprinting across the shrubs is thrilling!

I also love finding the random patches of cacti. Like I mentioned earlier, you may see them bloom. There’s also the Cholla Cactus Garden that glows during sunrise {They look fuzzy and soft but don’t touch! These guys will hang out with you every opportunity they can}.

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Hiking up Ryan Mountain is a wonderful workout for the day and the view is insane. You can see the snow capped mountains to the North and the Valleys all the way in Indio. I’ve yet to catch the stars here inside the park but I know it’s amazing just based on driving in at dawn. Honestly, there’s much to be explored here and I’ve yet to do or see it all, but I can’t wait for my next adventure to Joshua Tree.

Safe Travels,

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