Joshua Tree National Park is located in southeastern California. It is named for the Joshua tree forests native to the park. It covers a land area of approximately 1,200 square miles. A large part of the park is a designated wilderness area. Straddling the San Bernardino County and Riverside County border, the park includes parts of two deserts, the higher Mojave Desert and lower Colorado Desert. The Little San Bernardino Mountains run through the southwest edge of the park.
Joshua Tree National Park offers visitors endless prospects for exploration and discovery. Depending on the number of hours you have to spend, your interests and oomph, here are some things to do. Begin your tour at a visitor center where park staff will be happy to help you plan your visit. If you have limited time you may want to limit your sightseeing to the main park roads. There are many pullouts with exhibits that dot these roads. There are 12 self-guided nature trails to explore. Definitely consider experiencing at least one of these walks during a short park visit. On a clear day the view from Keys View extends beyond the Salton Sea to Mexico and is well worth the additional 20-minute drive.
If you plan to spend an entire day, you will have the time to visit one or more of the hiking trails. Going to a ranger program will add fun and understanding to your visit. October through May you can call ahead and reserve a spot on the popular Keys Ranch guided walking tour. If privacy is what you are after, plan an all-day hike into the backcountry. If you would like to experience the desert on a mountain bike, the park offers a widespread network of dirt roads that make for less congested and safer cycling than the paved main roads. Joshua Tree is a popular rock-climbing area. Many visitors enjoy just watching the climbers.
The park is always open and may be visited any time of year. Visitation increases as temperatures cool in the fall, the peak is during the wildflower season in the spring, and there are very little crowds in the heat of the summer. This is the desert and don’t forget that, keep water on you at all times, even if you plan on only experiencing it from your car.
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