I’ve been wanting to visit Joshua Tree for a while now, and at the beginning of May, Zack said we should getaway for Memorial Day Weekend, and I immediately began planning a trip to Joshua Tree.
It’s about a 3 hour drive from Los Angeles, so you could make a day trip out of it, but I recommended staying at least 1 night (which is what we did) – read on to find out why.
This was our first stop in the park – a 3 mile out and back hike to the summit of Ryan Mountain with incredible views of the desert from 5,000 feet. It’s definitely one of the most popular hikes, so try and get there early to grab a spot in the small parking lot.
Distance: 3 miles, out and back
Difficulty Level: Moderate/Difficult
HIDDEN VALLEY LOOP TRAIL
More of a nature walk than a hike, but a nice cool down after a more strenuous hike (we did this after Ryan Mountain). It’s a 1 mile loop that takes you through a little valley that is surrounded by boulders, crazy rock formations, and of course, lots of Joshua Trees.
Distance: 1 mile loop
Difficulty Level: Easy
CHOLLA CACTUS GARDEN
Another short nature walk that has you walking through THOUSANDS of densely concentrated cholla cacti. Much like the Joshua trees, the cholla cacti look like they are from another planet, and the sheer number of them that are clustered in this area is mind blowing.
Distance: 0.25 mile loop
Difficulty Level: Easy
There are SO many trails throughout the park ranging from easy to difficult. For more hikes, check out there website.
And let’s be honest – it wasn’t really camping. The yurt was fully assembled and ready to go when we got there, and everything we needed was provided for us – a queen sized air mattress, couch, blankets, pillows, lanterns, a propane grill AND fire pit, cooking/eating gear, a cooler, AND a shared porta potty nearby. There were a few other campsites nearby that shared the bathroom, but the closest site to us was at least 50 yards away, so it was very peaceful and private.
We had packed a cooler of our own and grilled some hot dogs (but made them “fancy” cuz this was glamping, folks), drank lots of wine, and honestly just relaxed and enjoyed the quietness of the desert. We watched the sunset over the mountains, roasted s’mores when it got dark, and then laid a blanket on the ground and did some stargazing.
STARGAZING: Reason number 1 that you NEED to spend the night in Joshua Tree. With no light pollution and a clear night, you can see more stars than you can imagine. It was absolutely mesmerizing.
MORE TO EXPLORE
If you’re driving from Los Angeles, you’ll pass right by this little shop, and it’s definitely worth a quick stop. It’s a “plant emporium featuring cacti, succulents, tools, supplies, decor, and more” and if anything, you’ll be able to snag some cute pictures for Instagram.
JOSHUA TREE COFFEE COMPANY
Caffeine up before you head to the park. Grab a cup of their organic coffee that’s roasted right in Joshua Tree.
JUST CHECK OUT THE JOSHUA TREES
I mean, the town is called Joshua Tree after all. The alien like trees are all over the place, but if you enter through the West Entrance, you’ll see SO many it’s almost overwhelming!
• The entry fee is $30/vehicle but includes re-entry for 7 days – just another reason to stay longer than 1 day
• There is NO cell service or wifi in the park.
• Pack PLENTY of water, snacks, and sunscreen.
Obviously there’s so much to do that 1 day simply isn’t enough – at least for a first time visitor! If you’ve ever been to Joshua Tree, did I miss out on anything (because you better believe I’m planning a trip back!).
PS – For more to do in Joshua Tree, check out Glamping in Joshua Tree: Round 2!
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