Joshua Tree National Park

California, United States
 (15 votes, 15 reviews)
Joshua Tree National Park occupies 800,000 acres in south-eastern California (east of Palm Springs) and offers visitors a wide range of activities, including: nature trails, hiking trails, mountain biking, rock climbing, guided tours, and backcountry camping.  The park represents a "unique assembly of natural resources brought together by the junction of three of California’s ecosystem," namely:  the Colorado Desert, the Mojave Desert, and the Little San Bernadino Mountains (source:
- The Colorado Desert occupies the southern and eastern parts of the park and is a western extension of the Sonoran Desert.  In this area, visitors will find spike-like ocotillo plants and “jumping” cholla cactus.
- In the northern part of the park is the Mojave Desert, which is the home of park’s namesake: the Joshua tree. The plant can also be found in the western half of the park.
 - In the western part of the park are the Little San Bernardino Mountains, which are home to California juniper and pinyon pine.

Animal diversity is also present at Joshua Tree.  Desert bighorn,  rattlesnakes,  migratory birds all call the park home or at least a rest-stop on their way somewhere.

Geologically the park features granite monoliths and rugged canyons.  Additionally, "washes, playas, alluvial fans, bajadas, desert varnish, igneous and metamorphic rocks interact to form a pattern of stark beauty and ever changing complexity," (source: NPS).  
Hiking Trails
Boy Scout Trail - an 16-mile round trip hike with scenic views through the edge of the Wonderland of Rocks

49 Palms Oasis - 3-mile moderate trail leading to an oasis with pools of water awaiting your arrival.

Lost Horse Mine and Mountain - 4-mil moderate hike to the site of the ten-stamp mill. The summit of the mountain is at 5,278ft, just under a mile.

Lost Palms Oasis - a 8-mile moderate hike through a canyon with many palms. There are also optional side trips to Victory Pals and Munsen Canyon.

Mastodon Peak - a strenuous 3-mile climb to 3,371 feet with great views of Eagle Mountain and Salton Sea.

Ryan Mountain - a strenuous 3-mile hike to 5,461 feet with views of Host Horse, Queen, and Pleasant Valleys below.

Cholla Cactus Garden - a short 0.3-mile interpretive trail through a cactus garden, just off the side of the road.


Hidden Valley, Joshua Tree National Park
Sample the best of Joshua Tree National Park on this short 1 mile nature trail loop in the heart of the park.
1.0 mi/
1.6 km
2.7 mi/
4.3 km
Joshua Tree Peak from Indian Cove Campground
Rock scrambling. 3.9 mile trail near Panorama Heights, California
3.9 mi/
6.3 km
Hidden Valley, Joshua Tree National Park
Hidden Valley, Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park, California, United States
Easy: 1.0 miles, 1 hour or less
Sample the best of Joshua Tree National Park on this short 1 mile nature trail loop in the heart of the park.
Joshua Tree Peak from Indian Cove Campground
Joshua Tree Peak from Indian Cove Campground
Panorama Heights, California, United States
Rock scrambling. 3.9 mile trail near Panorama Heights, California
Mastodon Peak Loop
Mastodon Peak Loop
Joshua Tree National Park, California, United States
Easy: 2.7 miles, 1-3 hours
Community Trips
Mirage Trailhead  Photo
View from Trailhead Photo
Mirage (a.k.a.  Photo
Mirage (a.k.a.  Photo
Mirage (a.k.a. "Bump & Grind") Trail
by Cobber99 on Mar 06, 2010
Rancho Mirage, California, United States
3.3 miles
One of the most popular trails among local cardio-enthusiasts, the Mirage Trail (also known as the "Bump-n-Grind" trail, the "Desert Drive Trail", the "Patton Trail", and the "Desert Mirage Trail") begins with it's trail-head along Highway 111 on the border of Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert.  There are a few start points for this trail.  Books will tell you that you should access it via Painters Path (behind Target in Palm...
Starting Out - Eisenhower Mtn. Quite Visable Photo
Start of the Canyon Leg of the Wilderness Loop Photo
Eisenhower Loop Trail - 028 Photo
Eisenhower Loop Trail - 032 Photo
Eisenhower Peak: Wilderness Loop Trail
by Cobber99 on Mar 22, 2010
Palm Desert, California, United States
5.0 miles
from the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens:The Living Desert Nature Preserve consists of 1,080 sonoran desert acres situated just above the zoo. From The Living Desert, a hiker can select one of three trails to suit their desired experience of the real undisturbed desert. The nature trails take you through various Sonoran Desert biological communities and habitats including desert riparian woodland with smoketree, palo verde and desert willow, and desert scrub...
R0012242 (Panorama Heights, California, United States) Photo
R0012244 (Panorama Heights, California, United States) Photo
R0012246 (Panorama Heights, California, United States) Photo
R0012260 (Panorama Heights, California, United States) Photo
The Maze
by modernhiker on Jan 27, 2008
Joshua Tree, California, United States
6.3 miles
Full write up at Modern Hiker.
R0012301 (Panorama Heights, California, United States) Photo
R0012306 (Panorama Heights, California, United States) Photo
R0012317 (Panorama Heights, California, United States) Photo
R0012320 (Panorama Heights, California, United States) Photo
Hiking Barker Dam
by modernhiker on Jan 21, 2008
Pinto Wye, California, United States
1.7 miles
A short but rewarding nature walk in the heart of Joshua Tree. Full write up at Modern Hiker.
Carey's Castle Hike - 001 Photo
Carey's Castle Hike - 002 Photo
Carey's Castle Hike - 003 Photo
Carey's Castle Hike - 004 Photo
Carey's Castle Trail
by Cobber99 on Mar 23, 2009
Hayfield, California, United States
4.1 miles
Amidst the Eagle Mountain Range at the SouthWest corner of Joshua Tree National Park, lies Carey’s Castle, a small cave-like dwelling constructed in the 1920’s for use as a place to live while mining the adjacent vertical shaft. Very little is known about the “Carey” character, however without the inquisitiveness of the destination; this is still a magnificent hike full of incredible flora and terrain to behold. An early spring hike such as ours is probably...
P1030302.JPG Photo
P1030303.JPG Photo
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P1030305.JPG Photo
Ryan Mtn - Joshua Tree NP
by Ze on Dec 17, 2010
California, United States
2.8 miles
Approaching the Samuelson Rocks Photo
Dylan Photo
Samuelson Rocks Hike, Joshua Tree National Park, CA
by MrsCyberhobo on Dec 31, 2010
Joshua Tree, California, United States
5.8 miles
A slightly more interesting and less direct route to the Samuelson Rocks. The rocks on which Mr. Samuelson engraved his philosophies while homesteading in the 1920's make for a great day hike destination! Read the history here: 
2012-03-31 10-02-15 0211 Joshua Tree 49 Palms Oasis Hike Cholla and 29 Palms Behind.JPG Photo
2012-03-31 10-25-19 0213 Joshua Tree 49 Palms Oasis Hike.JPG Photo
2012-03-31 10-26-01 0219 Joshua Tree 49 Palms Oasis Hike.JPG Photo
2012-03-31 10-26-55 0221 Joshua Tree 49 Palms Oasis Hike 29 Palms Below.JPG Photo
2012 03 31 Joshua Tree 49 Palms Oasis Hike
by BrianKatrinaHiggins on Mar 31, 2012
Twentynine Palms, California, United States
3.2 miles
This is an easy, popular hike as it is closest to 29 Palms and does not require an entrance fee to the national park to get to the trail head.  It also has great views of 29 Palms, but no Joshua Trees (it does have yucca plants).  The palm tree oasis is worth the walk too.  Spring time is nicest as the flowers and blooming cactus add to the scenery.
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Scrambling around Joshua Tree
by SingleTracks on Nov 17, 2010
Joshua Tree NP - Wonderland of Rocks, California, United States
10.2 miles
We spent a few days in Joshua Tree with warm weather and a great campsite.  Our big hike there was an off trail hiking/scrambling adventure that got quite a bit longer than planned.  Our outbound wash was pretty easy for the most part with only a few rock piles to scramble over.  But the return route was full of car and bus sized boulders that took a long time to get over....
Mirage Trailhead Photo
Mirage (a.k.a.  Photo
Mirage (a.k.a.  Photo
Mirage (a.k.a.  Photo
Palm Desert - North Loop
by Cobber99 on Mar 06, 2010
Rancho Mirage, California, United States
7.2 miles
A nice 7.2-mile loop consisting of the Mirage (a.k.a. "Bump-n-Grind"), Herb Jeffries, & Mike Schuler Trails.  Because most of these trails are so short, I thought it best to create some loops for people visiting to venture upon.  This loop allows you access to every north-end trail in the Palm Desert San Jacinto area.You will begin at the trail-head for the Mirage Trail and work your way to the top.  Then back...

JTreeNP..... if you have a jeep there is a ton of fun here....
Visited on Nov 09, 2013

by simbajak on Feb 06, 2014
Joshua Tree always provide excellent adventuring. Be sure to bring lots of water, and leave a detailed itinerary with a responsible person!
Visited on May 07, 2013

by jomastso on Jul 06, 2013
Well Im Stationed right next to the place so i do love it. Has great rock formations beautiful view of the desert. Its not crowded and its peaceful whats not to love.
Visited on Mar 18, 2013

by mike.santillanez on Mar 18, 2013
Beautiful rock formations. Fascinating foliage. Nice trails to hike.
Visited on Feb 12, 2013

by paul130 on Mar 14, 2014
This is a wonderful hike and was not busy. We were there @ 0630 so that helps.
Visited on Aug 05, 2012

by MeanderingDude on Aug 05, 2012
Not as big a fan of desert as I am of the mountains. I enjoyed the peace and solitude of my overnighter in the park. Was able to get in a couple of hikes out of the campgroud.
Visited on Apr 04, 2012

by markamichael on Mar 10, 2013
Really nice place. A good short hike in a not-so-busy area of the park.
Visited on Mar 27, 2012

by drjohn1963 on May 23, 2012
A unique Southern California treasure.
Visited on Jan 05, 2012

by myhikingsite on Jan 09, 2012
The high desert is not for everyone, but if you can catch it when the sun and wind aren't too strong, or stay in sheltered places, which are few, it can be enchanting. Endless granite in myriad formations, desert bloom and wildlife. The most fun for anyone that is fairly fit is just exploring on rocks and taking in sights. All the rock areas in the main park are fun, Indian Cove was great camping, the 49 Palms oasis hike was nice, the Cholla cactus gardens were a fine sight and weather was sweet. The higher sites (e.g. White Tank) can be pretty windy, but are nice. Jumbo Rocks looked nice too. Most sites don't have water, but the bigger ones do. Even the bigger sites like Indian Cove don't put you in the middle of groups. Not sure about Cottonwood and Black Rock.
Visited on Apr 13, 2011

by bfoelsch on Apr 15, 2011
Best time to visit park is late spring or early fall... bring plenty of water and snacks. Cell phone and GPS. The visiter center offers a really Nice park map. ( 10- 15 dollars )
Visited on Feb 04, 2011

by pahrumprat on Oct 04, 2011
Always the best place on earth.
Visited on Jan 11, 2011

by chriswheelera on Jan 21, 2011
Awesome adventure over the hill. Bouldering fun for those that don't want to venture far. But still - take a GPS. You'll get lost in there.
Visited on Apr 03, 2010

by zebostoneleigh on Apr 23, 2011
Living in Palm Springs, CA, I have been to the park many times. It has both the Mojave and Senora Deserts crossing over. The formations of water and wind worn mountain peaks is both interesting and makes for some stunning photography. It is a big park and one you can enjoy in detail on foot, or just drive through in your air-conditioned car. We have done both, especially in the spring when the flowers are blooming. Don't be surprised to see humans hanging off large rock faces with ropes and attachments. There are a number of trails but I suggest a good map, GPS (if you have one) and don't, (did I emphasize don't) forget the water! Take plenty of water. Be hydrated and enjoy safely.
Visited on Mar 10, 2010

by DesertCactus on May 02, 2011
Always remember to bring plenty of water when hiking in the desert. You are always thirstier than you thought you would be.
Visited on Apr 06, 2009

by dllooney on Oct 14, 2012
Volunteer for the Search and Rescue Team here, so I am in JTNP all the time. Recommendations or tips:

* Yes that first climbing bolt really is 30 feet off the ground---what can I say it is the local style of bolting. There is no shame in carrying a stick clip in this park.

* The guide book may say the climbing route is only 5.8, but after the 10,000th climber that just finished the route it is more like a 5.12, because now it has been polished by so many hands and feet pulling on it. The climbing is awesome, but don't let the easy ratings and rocks that are not that high trick you into doing something that you are not ready for.

* Great hike is Ryan Mtn and for off days take a tour of Keys Ranch.

by Rockguy on Nov 15, 2012

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palm springs, Pushawalla Palms, Samuelsons, Pushwalla Plams, palm oasis, california, mountains, Coachella Valley, Mike Schuler Trail, Pushawalla Plateau, Barker Dam, colorado desert, desert, Palm Desert, joshua tree, Mirage Trail, Hiking, Mojave Desert, Oasis, joshua tree national park

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