Explore Joshua Tree.
Joshua Tree is a haven for those looking to escape the concrete jungle and enjoy some outdoor family adventures.
You’ll find the little village of Joshua Tree, nestled in the Morongo Basin, just 34 miles east of Palm Springs. JT is steeped in cultural arts and a gateway to Joshua Tree National Park.
For centuries, this arid desert was home to various Indian tribes until the late 1800s when smallpox and homesteaders in search of gold overtook the land. Most famous of the homesteaders was William Keys, who came to the area when he was 30. He, like many others, came to the area in search of gold. Shortly after becoming a superintendent of the Desert Queen Mine, the mine went bankrupt. The owners of the mine gave him the deed to the mine as compensation for wages owed to him. Keys and his wife Francis stayed in the area to homestead nearby land and built a ranch. They remained here until their deaths in 1963 (Francis) and 1969 (William). His ranch still stands today hidden away within the rocky confines of the Joshua Tree National Park. You can make a reservation for a Ranch Tour by calling 760-367-5522 or stopping by one of the three Visitor Centers (Cottonwood, Joshua Tree or Oasis) to purchase tickets. The cost is $5 for adults and $2.50 for children six and above. Seniors and those who have an annual pass are also $2.50. Tours are start at 2pm on Fridays and Saturdays and at 10am on Sunday’s.
The Main Attraction: Joshua Tree National Park
People have been flocking to the area of Joshua Tree since the early 1900s. And thanks to the efforts of Los Angeles socialite, Minerva Hoyt, who while president of the Desert Conservation League, helped get the area designated as a federal park to preserve the fragile desert ecological system from those who sought to destroy it. In 1936, Franklin Roosevelt signed a proclamation establishing parts of the Mojave and Sonoran
deserts as Joshua Tree National Monument. You may still hear local residents refer to Joshua Tree National Park (JTNP) as “The Monument” because the area did not get its National Park status until 1994 when President Bill Clinton signed the Desert Protection Act.
Nowadays, over 1.2 million tourists (including rock climbers, hikers, and locals) from all over the world descend on the village of Joshua Tree every year as they make their way to Joshua Tree National Park. Despite that many visitors annually, JTNP does not have shuttle bus transportation like many other national parks do, so you’ll have to rely on your own vehicle to get around. I highly recommend you have a full tank of gas before venturing into the park.
Here are the top 10 places to visit within JTNP:
Arch Rock Nature Trail –
Best reached by entering the Park through the entrance located in 29 Palms. This is a fairly easy
stroll among some fantastic boulder formations to the only known arch in the park.
Barker Dam – Best reached from the West Entrance in Joshua Tree. This is also an easy hike that most people enjoy. The water level will vary depending on recent rainfall. We’ve been experiencing a drought as of late so there hasn’t been much water for the local wildlife.
Cap Rock – Best reached from the West Entrance as well. This is one of the few handicap accessible hikes within the park. Personally, this has long been a favorite place of mine, so much so that I got married in this location in 2010.
Cholla Cactus Garden –You can reach this Pinto Basin location from the 29 Palms entrance into the park. I highly recommend coming here at sunset. The needles on the cholla cactus glow as the sun is setting in the distance. Speaking of distance, you’ll want to keep yours from this cacti, as they are known by locals as the “jumping cactus”. You’ll also want to watch were you walk as it is not easy
getting these needles out. I like to keep a pair of pliers with me whenever venturing into the
garden to photograph the sunsets.
Hemmingway – You can reach this location by entering the Park in Joshua Tree. Rock climbers love coming to this area to seek out the higher elevations.
Hidden Valley – Not to far past Hemmingway you’ll find this secret valley surrounded by towering boulders and a slew of joshua trees. This is the perfect spot to enjoy a family picnic. Plenty of tables and bbq’s throughout the area with plenty of rocks for the kids to scramble on.
Keys View – This is one of the highest points in the park and it can be reached from the Joshua Tree entrance. Once you reach your destination, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Palms Springs and the entire Coachella Valley. It’s also a great location to enjoy many 4th of July celebrations all at
Lost Palm Oasis – Best reached from the Cottonwood entrance located in the Coachella Valley off the 10 freeway. This remote canyon oasis can be reached by a 3.5 mile trail.
Ryan Mountain – Best reached by entering the Park from Joshua Tree. One of the more difficult hikes in the Park but you’ll be rewarded with dramatic views of JTNP from its peak. And in the campground area, it’s a short, easy hike to an abandoned adobe homestead.
49 Palms Oasis – Can be reached by driving into Indian Cove located off Highway 62 between Joshua Tree and 29 Palms. There’s a gorgeous palm oasis awaiting you at the end of this moderate trail.
Be prepared for the weather
The best time to visit Joshua Tree is from October to May when temperatures are milder. Right now the weather has been getting into the upper 60s and low 70s during the day and into the 40-30s at night. I always suggest wearing layers to adjust to the changing temperatures. During the summer it can get downright miserable with the summer heat getting well above 100 degrees. And no matter what time of year, always make sure you have plenty of water with you. This is the desert after all.
What more things to do outside JTNP?
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