First-Timer’s Guide to Joshua Tree National Park

If you’re looking for an amazing national park to visit with your family, Joshua Tree National Park is a great choice! With its incredible rock formations and desert landscape, this park offers something for everyone. If it’s your first time visiting, here are a few tips to help make the most of your trip!

1. Decide which month to go

Joshua Tree is a desert, so it’s important to consider the weather when planning your trip. The best time to visit is between October and May, when temperatures are cooler. June through September can be quite hot, so if you’re not a fan of the heat, you may want to avoid these months.

Before you go, be sure to check the Joshua Tree National Park website for any closures or alerts. This is especially important if you’re visiting during the summer, as there can sometimes be fire closures.

We went in Oct, and while it was hot, it was bearable.

2. The drive from LA to Joshua Tree is beautiful

The drive from Los Angeles to Joshua Tree National Park is about two and a half hours. But trust us, it’s worth it! The landscape is stunning, and you’ll definitely want to take your time driving through the park.

We left early in the morning so we could get there before it got too hot. Here are some pictures.

3. There are plenty of food and drink options in the town outside the park

Initially, during the initial research phase, since everyone is saying that we should bring a lot of water and our own food, we thought that there was nothing nearby or inside the park. It turned out that there are plenty of food options in nearby towns (about 15 mins drive) outside the park.

So you can choose to eat there first before entering the park or get additional water, other supplies

4. Stop at the visitor center to ask for advice and a free map

When you first enter the park, be sure to stop at the visitor center. Here you can pick up a map of the park and chat with a ranger about any questions you may have. They’ll also be able to tell you about any current conditions or closures that you should know about. We stopped at the visitor center and talked to a ranger about how best to spend 4-5 hours inside the park. We didn’t want to stay overnight due to other agenda items. The staff was super helpful.

We also bought some souvenir items at the visitor center to support the local community.

If you decide to stop at the visitor center, then I don’t recommend stopping at the “Cultural center” anymore since they are the same.

5. You can drive between different places of interest inside the park

The road condition is great, so driving inside the park is perfect.

This picture can show you the road condition.

driving inside the Joshua Tree national park 2022

6. Hidden valley and Skull rock are perfect for a leisure hike

My daughter can hike at both places easily. The scenery is breathtaking too.

Some pictures we took at the Skull Rock

And here are some pictures of the Hidden Valley.

7. Of course, water is critical, so bring a lot of water when you are inside the park

While you can buy plenty of water outside the park, you can’t buy inside as it is pure wilderness, so be prepared.

8. Buy America the Beautiful national park pass

The entrance fee for 1 car to enter Joshua tree national park is $30 for 7 days. But if you plan to visit multiple national parks within 1 year, I recommend buying America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Series. It’s only $80/year for 1 vehicle, so it’s value for money.

There are plenty of other things you can do, including camping overnight, or birding, etc…

Now that you know what to expect, start planning your adventure to Joshua Tree National Park! And don’t forget to bring plenty of water.


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