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Joshua Tree National Park Greatest Hits

Top 5 Hits for Family Adventures

  1. Scramble around jumbo rocks behind Skull Rock.
  2. Hike to Arch Rock and scramble on rocks there (trail starts in White Tank Campground).
  3. Hike Hidden Valley.
  4. Hike and sketch or nature journal at Barker Dam.
  5. Walk the boardwalk at Cholla Cactus Garden.

Pro Tips

  • Season: Year-round, but most comfortable weather is March through May and October through November
  • Time: Day trip (or two days to see more)
  • Cost: national park entrance fee
  • Difficulty: Activities for all ages (keep little ones close when bouldering on the rocks)
  • Download a night sky app for constellations before you go.
  • Stop at a visitor center and get a map.
  • There is no cell service in the park.
  • Bathrooms are located at visitor centers, campgrounds, and on the side of the road by Skull Rock.
  • Bring one gallon of water per person in your car. This is the desert, and drinking water is not provided in the park.

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With 790,636 acres of desert, Joshua Tree National Park is larger than the state of Rhode Island! Over 1.5 million people come to visit the park each year to hike the trails, camp under the stars, climb on rocks, birdwatch, walk through palm groves, paint, or just be inspired by the natural beauty of the desert. And, of course, to see Joshua trees.

This national park’s namesake, the Joshua tree, was named by Mormon immigrants in the mid-19th century. Legend tells us that these trees reminded the early pioneers of Joshua from the Bible, outstretching his arms, guiding them westward. Today you can enjoy this twisty, spiky, Dr. Suess-like plants when you visit Joshua Tree National Park. These trees are a sight to see--they grow up to 40 feet tall! Instead of showing their age through growth rings like other trees, Joshua trees demonstrate it through their height--they grow an average of 1.5 to 3 inches per year.

As you visit the park, plan on staying late to see the stars! The night sky is some of the darkest and most free of light pollution in California. Be prepared with a coat, blanket, and star chart (or app) to help you find constellations.