Updated: Nov 20, 2021
Our love for the National Parks was not discovered until we started living in our RV full-time. We soon realized these parks are protected for a reason and they are hidden gems throughout the world.
Joshua Tree National Park is a beautiful park located in SoCal, where two distinct desert ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado come together to form the ultimate breathtaking scenery. Joshua Trees go on forever and are paired with large magnificent boulders that create the perfect combination of nature at it’s finest.
The name Joshua tree was given by a group of Mormon settlers who crossed the Mojave Desert in the mid-19th century. The tree’s unique shape reminded them of a Biblical story in which Joshua reaches his hands up to the sky in prayer.
If you plan on visiting Joshua Tree National Park here are a few of our favorite stops and must explore areas in the park.
We have discovered we love Arch Rocks! We just find there is something mysterious about them and any time we see a hike that leads to one we put on our hiking shoes. The Arch Rock Nature Trail in Joshua Tree is a leisurely 0.5 miles round-trip stroll to the arch. It is well worth a stop from the White Tank Campground and enjoy some time climbing on the rock formations just below the arch.
If you have seen any of our Youtube Videos, you may be familiar with my love for finding faces in rocks. I see them often and my husband usually disagrees with my find. There is no mistaking Skull Rock. This iconic rock formation is a popular spot to stop and grab a picture or climb on. Skull Rock is an easy pull off with no hiking required and located close to Jumbo Rocks Campground. Or if you like, you can do the 1.7 mile nature hike around the rock. Either way, this is a fun Joshua Tree stop.
If you want a stunning view with easy access, this is the stop for you. Keys View is an incredible birds eye view and one of the most visited spots in the park for a reason. You can take a drive up to this viewpoint and for see beauty for miles including the Salton Sea, Choachella Valley, , Palm Springs, Santa Rosa Mountains, are a just a few. Don’t miss this stunning view. It will not disappoint.
Cholla Cactus Garden
Get ready to be mesmerized by these beautiful yet dangerous cacti. This hike is considered the most dangerous hike in the park, due to the large collection of sharp and painful needles of the Cholla Cactus. Stay on the winding flat path and admire theses beautiful cacti for a short o.25 mile must see experience.
Hidden Valley Trail
We love to hike as a family, but as our toddler has became more independent, our hiking miles have declined rapidly. I am happy that she is growing up with the love of the outdoors and nature, but boy do hikes take forever these days. We now have to pick hikes she can conquer and Hidden Valley is a great hike for all ages. With a total distance of 1 mile roundtrip loop, you will be invited into a valley full of boulders and Joshua Trees that is fun to explore. This hike is a lot of fun and good for lots of hiking skill levels.
Wether you are a tent camper or have an RV, camping in Joshua Tree is top notch. We tried to get a camping spot on a first-come first-serve basis our first visit through and the campground was already filled up. We came back and tried again early in the morning at the beginning of the week and grabbed one of the last spots. This park is popular for good reason and although there are lots of camping spots, they fill up fast.
Also note if you do plan on bringing your RV, sites are tight among the boulders. We camped with our 31 Foot Airstream in Jumbo Rocks Campground, but sites are limited and take some maneuvering in areas. There are some campgrounds that take reservations, so if you are able you can also book ahead to secure a spot.
Weather can vary so be prepared. We camped in January and the sun was intense and provided some warm hiking days. The next day we woke up to snow in the north part of the park and if you are one of the few who get to enjoy this scene, there is nothing like a desert snowfall. It was absolutely magical. Check out our Youtube video of our campsite and this spectacular snowfall.
Cottonwood Spring and Ryan Mountain are two additional spots I would have liked to explore. If you have more time and plan to head to the South of the park, Cottonwood Springs is a 1 mile roundtrip hike through a desert oasis. It is a popular area to see some wildlife and an opportunity to view some greenery in the middle of a desert. Ryan Mountain is a 3 mile roundtrip hike for one of the most incredible views in the park.
Joshua Tree is an amazing park full of beauty and a place the imagination can run wild. Whether you are a world class rock climber or up for some great car ride views, Joshua Tree will provide spectacular views and a wonderful nature experience.