The closest entrance to Joshua Tree NP is the West entrance, a 45 minute drive from Azure Palm Hot Springs north on Route 62. Turn right in the town of Joshua Tree on Park Blvd. A visitor’s center is located on the corner before entering the park or more information.
There are two other entrances (or exits) as well–the north entrance near the Oasis Visitors Center in Twentynine Palms, and a south entrance, near the intersection of Box Canyon Road and Interstate 10, which leads to the Cottonwood Visitors Center.
Directions and Map
Here are some highlights of the park, but check out the resources below to learn more:
Get started at Hidden Valley Nature Trail
An easy one-mile introduction to the park. Hidden Valley is a great introduction to the northern, Mojave Desert portions of the park. You’ll see Joshua Trees, pines, oaks, yucca, and maybe even a bit of desert wildlife along the way. The path winds around the outside of the valley, occasionally making its way through the park’s distinctive piles of monzogranite boulders.
Take the scenic Barker Dam Hike
The short and scenic Barker Dam hike is one of the most popular hikes in Joshua Tree NP, and is suitable for most skill levels. You’ll come across many beautiful boulder formations along the route, and if you have the time, you may want to get in some rock scrambling as you do this trail! Most visitors hike the relatively flat 1.1 mile loop in a counter clockwise direction, where the dam comes first and then the petroglyphs.
Rock climb at Echo Cove
With more than 8,000 known climbs and 400 unique formations, it’s little wonder Joshua Tree is a climber’s paradise. Echo Cove has plenty of routes great for first-timers and advanced climbers alike. BYO gear or rent everything from shoes to chalk at Nomad Ventures. The friendly local shop has been in business since 1980.
Hike among giant boulders on Arch Rock Trail
Millennia of whipping winds and rushing water have served to sculpt some incredible designs throughout these deserts. One of the most miraculous, the 30-foot-tall Arch Rock, is easily accessible thanks to a 0.5-mile out-and-back trail starting just outside White Tank Campground and the Twin Tanks parking area. Located near the center of the park, 40 minutes past the West entrance.
Walk among cacti in Cholla Cactus Garden
Mother Nature’s majesty and her mischief are both on full display in this organically occurring cacti grove. Stay the course on this 0.25-mile loop and you’ll be treated to one of the world’s densest concentrations of the lovely-but-dangerous cholla cactus. Located near the center of the park, just past Arch Rock.
Explore Indian Cove Nature Trail
The walking trail at Indian Cove is one of the best places to enjoy the park’s namesake flora. Its official name is Yucca brevifolia, but it’s better known as the Joshua tree. Accessible only from further East on Route 62, turn right on Indian Cove Rd from the town of Twentynine Palms. This 0.6-mile path is surrounded by boulder formations. Keep an eye out for wildlife, including bighorn sheep and desert tortoises. More advanced boulder scrambling is another highlight of this area but is recommended for more experienced hikers as it is easy to get lost once you lose sight of the parking lot.