So Steve & I love the Palm Springs area, (have you heard this before, maybe? 😉 ) and on our last trip we finally made it to Joshua Tree for the first time. Joshua Tree National Park is a stunning desert landscape filled with trees that grow in few places in the world, and with rock formations that are an Instagrammers dream. We went in January, and let us tell you, for nature, history and photography lovers, this place does not disappoint. We were just there for the day, so we stopped at the Joshua Tree Visitors Center and got some great info on the area. The helpful staff shared advice on everything from wildlife we might see, to the best hikes in Joshua Tree. And we even picked up a couple of souvenirs for the nature loving little ones back home! So here are our top 5 Joshua Tree hikes and some other bonus tips! Plan a trip to Joshua Tree! It’s unforgettable!
Best Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
These are the top five Joshua Tree hikes we recommend based on ones we have done, or were strongly recommended by docents at the park. The first three we did on our day trip in, and they are all easy hikes. The last two are hikes I would love to plan when staying overnight in the Joshua Tree area, so we could take our time and fully enjoy them. If you plan a hike in Joshua Tree, make sure you check the JTNP website for maps, weather alerts, road closures and other warnings about conditions. And follow their recommendations on hiking safety!
The Hidden Valley was our favorite Joshua Tree hike during our day trip. Hidden Valley is truly a one of a kind place. A box canyon with a history of the Old West, and one of the most gorgeous desert landscapes. We want to go back to photograph it at sunrise! Easy 1 mile loop that most beginning hikers can do with no problem, although there are a few stone stairs. This hike was pretty busy during our visit in January, but there is still ample opportunity to get photos without anyone photo bombing. (Accidentally or otherwise!)
Arch Rock is a much quieter spot, located near the White Tank Campgrounds. In fact, we didn’t pass anyone on the trail while we were there! Great spot for photos, with tons of gorgeous rock formations. Be aware, the parking lot for the Arch Rock trail is actually across the street from the trail itself. There is a little Kiosk just off the parking area, start there. It will take you down the road and then across the street. Easy trail with no hills, less than 1/2 mile.
Skull Rock is a really short and easy trail, and in fact is so close to the road you can almost take pictures from there! (But don’t, you want to get up close to this awesome formation!) We did this one last, which was fine, because we were getting hungry but wanted one last trail before we headed out! Photo by ‘NPS‘.
Barker Dam is one of the hikes recommended by the docents at the Joshua Tree Visitors Center. Considered an easy hike of a 1.5 mile loop, this one is supposed to be the perfect hike if you want to see lots of wildlife. Photo by ‘Modern Hiker‘.
Ryan Mountain was the most challenging hike that was recommended to us, and it’s the first one we want to do on our next trip back to Joshua Tree! It’s a 3 mile loop with a 1000 feet change in elevation. But we hear the sunrise and sunsets from this peak are spectacular. Photo by ‘Yang Lu‘.
Joshua Tree Restaurants
So if you plan on spending time at Joshua Tree National Park, you are gonna get hungry. There is no food inside the park itself, but the nearby offerings are much more enticing than one might expect out in the desert. Here are some great Joshua Tree area restaurants worth trying when you’re there!
Crossroads Cafe – Great place for breakfast, but get there early. Lunch too!
Hwy 62 – Just East of Park Blvd
Joshua Tree Coffee Company – Best coffee around and terrific pastries. Starbucks, who?
61738 29 Palms Hwy
Organic Market Cafe – Another coffee place, but this one is organic! A lot of gluten free and vegan friendly offerings as well.
55231 Twentynine Palms Hwy
Yucca Valley, CA
(714) 488- 1782
Joshua Tree Saloon – Best Burgers in town, good beer selection and music on the weekends. Cool, funky western vibe!
Joshua Tree, CA
Corner of Hwy 62 & Park Blvd
Natural Sisters Cafe – Vegetarian and Some Vegan offerings with great salads and sandwiches. Even smoothies!
Joshua Tree, CA
Hwy 62, just East of Park Blvd
Firehouse Subs in Yucca Valley – Want something fast, but not fast food? Firehouse subs is a national chain, but they have great fresh sub sandwiches and they give back to the local community. We ate there for a quick lunch and we would eat there again.
58709 29 Palms Hwy
Yucca Valley, CA
29 Palms Inn – Fine dining in the desert, music on some nights! No reservations, so be prepared to wait on a busy night. Worth it!
73950 Inn Avenue
Twentynine Palms, CA
Pie for The People – NY style pizza with a west coast twist. Great for lunch or dinner!
61740 29 Palms Hwy
Joshua Tree, CA
La Casita Nueva – Great Mexican food, and if you aren’t the designated driver, check out their awesome margaritas!
57154 29 Palms Hwy
Yucca Valley, CA
La Copine – La Copine is a new offering for Joshua Tree restaurants. It is the perfect place for foodies, luring people from as far away as L.A. on any given night.
848 Old Woman Springs Road
Yucca Valley, CA
Joshua Tree AirBnB Options
If you want to go to Joshua Tree for more than just a day trip, you are going to want to check out the Joshua Tree AirBnB options. Why? Cause they are awesome. This may be in the middle of a desert, but the places you can stay in JT can be everything from artist funky to downright sophisticated. And they all make the most of the gorgeous landscape, the beautiful night skies, and the solitude you find in the desert. Photo below is ‘The Joshua Tree House‘.
You just have to check out some of these places. They are absolutely gorgeous and just so cool! Click on the links below to see photos and more information.
The Joshua Tree Little Jo Cabin is set all alone in a desert landscape, giving you the perfect place to relax and enjoy the wildlife. The space is a blend of boho and modern desert design, has two bedrooms and great reviews. From $134 a night.
One of the reviewers who have stayed at The Shark Attack spells it our perfectly…”Absolutely magic. The shack is just as stunning in real life as it is in the pictures.” One bedroom, one bath, secluded and tranquil location. This even has a fun & funky outdoor bathtub! From $160 a night.
The Joshua Tree House is one of the most popular AirBnB’s in the area, so be sure to book this one in advance! Gorgeous views, stunning decor, and even a Jacuzzi, and a stock tank pool for the warmer months! Perfect Honeymoon location! From $285 a night. Walking distance to town.
The Casita has the same owners as the Joshua Tree house, so you get the same level of decor and amenities here. This is a two bedroom that is set among the boulders with complete privacy. Be aware this one is a 15 minutes drive into town, some of it on dirt roads. Looks worth it to us! Over 300 five star reviews. From $299 a night.
Ok. Seriously. The Architect’s Off Grid Stargazing Cabin is remarkable. This peaceful setting and modern design makes this a prime Joshua Tree AirBnB, but the heated outdoor stargazing bedroom? Stunning. Worth every penny. From $353 a night.
Camping in Joshua Tree
For those of you who love the great outdoors, there are tons of camping opportunities in Joshua Tree. If you like the idea of having a bed and a place to cook indoors, then try RV camping! If you jump on over to ‘Your RV Lifestyle‘, they have a great guide on how to RV in Joshua Tree! (And, it rhymes, so it has to be cool!)
To find campsites and advice for tent camping in the park, visit ‘The National Park Service‘ website.
So hopefully you are already planning your Joshua Tree hikes and a full visit to the park. The next time we go back, we will definitely be staying in one of those inspiring AirBnB’s, and taking a dinner at La Copine, with a great burger at the Joshua Tree Saloon! Also check out our post on the Palm Springs Tramway!