Is Joshua Tree worth visiting? In this guide we will round up our experiences of visiting Joshua Tree National Park, the best things to do there and tell you why you should go to Joshua Tree.
Important Note: This post may contain affiliate links which means if you click through and make a purchase I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you!
What to Know Before You Go to Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park, located in Southern California, is a vast and beautiful area of land straddling two deserts – the Mojave and Colorado. As Joshua Tree is a desert it is really important to pack accordingly.
You should bring:
- at least a gallon of water per person,
- a wide-brimmed hat,
- sunscreen, and
Also it is worth noting that a lot of Joshua Tree are quite remote, so if you plan to hike, bring a travel first aid kit with you just in case.
Additionally most of Joshua Tree does not have cell service and there are no stores or gas stations inside, so bring all the food and water you’ll need and fill up your gas tank before entering the park.
Best Time to Visit Joshua Tree National Park
As Joshua Tree National Park is a desert, as you would expect it can get very hot. We advise traveling to the park outside of the summer months for more comfortable temperatures.
We also recommend visiting either for sunset or sunrise as the crowds will be lower and you stand a great chance of seeing more wildlife in the park.
Reasons Why Joshua Tree National Park is Worth Visiting
Firstly, the main reason that Joshua Tree National Park is worth visiting is obviously because of the famous Joshua Trees themselves.
Joshua Trees, (Yucca brevifolia) are a twisted, bristled and unique looking tree that are ubiquitous throughout the park. They are native to very few parts of the world and the Joshua Tree National Park is one of the best places to see them. That is because the trees only live at elevations of between 2000 and 6000 feet.
And there are some amazing Joshua Tree Facts that will fascinate visitors. Like did you know that Joshua Trees are very slow growing often taking over 50 years to reach their full size and live to around 150 years.
Alongside the Joshua Trees one of the main reasons to visit Joshua Tree is for the variety of landscapes. As Joshua Tree National Park sits on the convergence of two deserts at different altitudes (the high Mojave Desert and the low Colorado desert) you get a mix of varied landscape and ecosystems.
As well as the Joshua Trees, there are also a plethora of cacti that you can see throughout Joshua Tree. There are gardens of ocotillo and cholla cactus throughout Joshua Tree that are both stunning and unique.
Joshua Tree National Park has amazing hikes for all skill levels. Even if you are visiting Joshua Tree with kids you will find that there are hikes that are even doable for the littlest of legs or if you are doing a Palm Springs Babymoon. This is the reason it is one of my favourite National Parks to visit with kids or toddlers in fact.
There are also hikes for more accomplished hikers.
Joshua Tree, as with many of the best National Parks has some amazing overlooks from its scenic drive.
One of the most popular views in the park is Keys View which gives you an amazing birds eye view of the park. Some of the things that you can see from this overlook include:
- the San Andreas Fault
- Coachella Valley and
- the Santa Rosa Mountains.
One of our favorite things about this overlook is that it is accessible even with a stroller so is perfect for those visiting Joshua Tree National Park with toddlers.
As well as the Joshua Tree and Cacti there are also some really unique geological features that make the park worth visiting.
Some of our favourite geological features in the park include:
- Skull Rock – an amazing rock formation that looks like a skull and that my kids thought looked somewhat piratical.
- Heart Rock – yep you’ve guessed it there is a large rock that looks like a traditional heart.
One of thing that surprises people when they are visiting a desert anywhere in the world is by the variety of wildlife that lives and can be spotted in the desert.
If you are visiting Joshua Tree during the day then you are likely to see a variety of lizards and birds as we did. We also did see rattlesnake trails though we didn’t fortunately see any snakes for ourselves.
If you are visiting in the evening however you will find that many of the larger animals come out as the temperatures cool. You stand a chance of seeing mammals such as bighorn sheep, lynx and jackrabbits if you visit once the sun goes down.
Sunrise and Sunset
And speaking of the sun going down, you can see some amazing sunsets and sunrises in the park.
For a sunset we recommend heading to Keys View while the Cholla Cactus Garden offers some of the best sunrise vantage points in the park.
But the fun is not over once the sun has gone down in Joshua Tree National Park. Joshua Tree is an excellent place for stargazing and viewing the Milky Way and the National Park Service even organises an annual night sky festival in September each year.
If camping in a national park is on your National Park Bucket list, then Joshua Tree may be the perfect place to tick this item off. That is because there are over 3oo campsites within Joshua Tree.
Many of these campsites are on a first come first serve basis however others will require a reservation so be sure to check what your preferred campsite requires well in advance to avoid disappointment.
Despite being a desert Joshua Tree National Park is actually a really acccesible park both in terms of getting to the park and in terms of some of the trailheads.
The park is located close to some big cities that are even driving to the park including:
- 2 hours from Los Angeles
- 40 minutes from Palm Springs
This means that the park can be done easily as a day trip. However for those that want to spend more time in the park there are plenty of things to do in the park and lots of accommodation options from camping to unique airbnbs and hotels in the nearby vicinity.
On top of that we managed to do several viewpoints and trailheads with a stroller in the park.
There are so many great things to do in Joshua Tree National Park and some of them are truly unique experiences. Some of the unique experiences on offer in Joshua Tree include:
Is Joshua Tree Worth Visiting?
Overall we think that Joshua Tree is absolutely worth visiting. And why is Joshua Tree National Park worth visiting? Well for us it is the combination of amazing natural wonders in both the flora and fauna and rock formation but also due to the ease and accessibility of the park from both Palm Springs and Los Angeles.
It is definitely somewhere we will be visiting again as soon as we are back in the area.
Have you visited Joshua Tree National Park? Do you think it is worth a visit? What is your favorite thing to do in the park.m