Exploring Joshua Tree National Park
Whether you’re visiting from Las Vegas or other parts of Southern California, visiting some of the stunning recreation areas around the Mojave Desert offers some fantastic views. Less than four hours away is the beautiful desert landscape of Joshua Tree National Park. While it’s not one of the most popular national parks in America, Joshua Tree has a unique landscape of its own with unique rock formations, Joshua tree forests, desert plants and clear views of the night skies. Here’s how to enjoy the perfect visit to Joshua Tree National Park.
Inside Joshua Tree National Park
Obviously, the Joshua trees are a significant draw inside Joshua Tree National Park. Still, if you think that’s all there is to this national park, you’ll be surprised at the stunning hikes, rock climbing and Instagrammable spots you’ll find throughout over 400k acres.
While there are certainly Joshua trees aplenty, there are numerous trails to discover and views to soak in, like those near Skull Rock. Like many locations in the National Park System, Joshua Tree doesn’t have the best reception (you’re in the middle of the desert, after all), so make sure to hang onto that map at the entrance.
What to Do Outside Joshua Tree National Park
Outside the park, there are a few other notable spots to check out. Pioneertown is a fun excursion—the town was created to be a vacation spot and filming location with its relative proximity to Los Angeles. You’ll find a number of picture-perfect spots in the old-timey setting, along with a fully modern motel and some fun venues.
If you’re in the mood for another Instagrammable spot for your feed, make sure to check out the tiny, colorful World Famous Crochet Museum. The colorful building is worth a stop, even if you’re not into crochet. Big Morongo Canyon Preserve is also nearby, with more hiking and nature opportunities.
Where to Stay in Joshua Tree
Where you stay will depend on how close you would like to be to the park. There are numerous Airbnb options within 20-30 minutes of the park entrance and reasonably close to Twentynine Palms Highway. Many rental properties (via Airbnb and VRBO) offer luxurious accommodations, fantastic views and plenty of amenities (for instance, the C-House). If you’re in the mood for a bit of glamping, the famous AutoCamp is located in the town of Joshua Tree.
A short jaunt away, you’ll find Whisper Rock Ranch in Pioneertown. A little farther away in Twentynine Palms to the east of Joshua Tree, you’ll find numerous chain hotels and motels with several inexpensive options. Out to the west, Palm Springs and the rest of the Coachella Valley offer various accommodations ranging from luxurious sprawling resorts to hip boutique hotels and budget options.
What to Eat in Joshua Tree
The charming main drag of Joshua Tree (Twentynine Palms Highway) is astonishingly easy to navigate. The relatively straight stretch of road is home to local shops and plenty of dining options.
We love Pie For the People, a small local pizza spot with no frills but delicious pizza. The charming outdoor courtyard seating was perfect for enjoying the desert sun, and the portions were ideal for sharing with a group. You’ll find traditional flavors and unique tastes with a twist here, and even the salads are fantastic.
Frontier Café is a great spot to enjoy breakfast or grab a quick coffee on your way to explore. The cafe also has a delicious number of sandwiches, salads and handheld bites that are perfect for a desert picnic or an easy meal on the road.
You can venture west on Twenty-Nine Palms Highway to find various familiar options and fast food choices. If your accommodations have kitchen facilities, there are markets along the main street that stock just about everything you’ll need. Just make sure you have plenty of water, even in the winter, because… it’s a desert out there.