Joshua Tree National Park – a paradise for desert lovers

Stef Zisovska

Just a few hours drive from Los Angeles you can find one of the most scenic desert parks in the world, the Joshua Tree National Park. The park is open to visitors all year round and offers plenty of outdoor activities for all those who need a bit more excitement in their life. The serene desert environment of the park attracts the most people between October and May when the area gets busy. It’s good to note that the desert scenery can be harsh sometimes, as it’s important that you prepare well before your trip. The temperatures in the park are most pleasant in spring and fall when the maximum temperature rarely gets above 85°F.

Here are a few of the activities that you can do while you’re at the Joshua Tree National Park.


Cap Rock Hike, Joshua Tree National Park, California – Author: Ken Lund – CC BY-SA 2.0
Cap Rock Hike, Joshua Tree National Park, California – Author: Ken Lund – CC BY-SA 2.0

Joshua Tree National Park is a desert hiking paradise. Here you can find anything from short nature walks to moderate and challenging hikes. Every desert hike requires some necessary items, including water, food, layers of clothing, sun protection, first aid kit, sturdy shoes, navigation (map & compass), pocket knife or multitool, flashlight or headlamp, and emergency shelter. The section of the California Riding and Hiking Trail is the longest one in the park at 35 miles long. Cholla Cactus Garden Trail is the one of the shortest, and it will take you 15 to 30 minutes to finish it.

Horseback riding

Horseback riding has a long tradition in Joshua Tree National Park. There are 253 miles of equestrian trails across the park that will provide you with stunning views of canyons, open lands, and riding corridors. It’s crucial to follow the designated trail and not to ride off of the path. The desert environment is extremely fragile and it takes decades to heal. Consider bringing a lot of drinking water because there are no shops here where you can stop and refresh yourself.

Geology motor tour

Giant Marbles in Joshua Tree National Park – Author: Brocken Inaglory – CC BY-SA 3.0
Giant Marbles in Joshua Tree National Park – Author: Brocken Inaglory – CC BY-SA 3.0

The geology motor tour is perfect for people who are unable or simply don’t like to walk too much. The whole tour lasts for two hours, and there are sixteen stops along the way. If you don’t have plenty of time to explore the park, the geology motor tour will provide you with a quick but enjoyable excursion.


Joshua Tree National Park has plenty of suitable overnight backpacking spots that you can visit, including Black Rock Canyon, Cottonwood Springs, Covington, Indian Cove, and Juniper Flats. Each backpacking area has a parking space for your vehicle and an orientation map. If you’re planning an overnight stay, register at one of the 13 registration boards within the park. Respect the wildlife and don’t bring any pets with you because they’ll disturb the natural habitat of the park residents. Clean all the garbage after yourself and as always leave no traces.

Mountain biking

Mountain biking
Mountain biking

The park offers 29 miles of biking trails where all cycling fans can enjoy an active day on two wheels. Always wear a helmet for protection because the park’s tracks are narrow, sandy and with potholes. Bring at least a gallon of drinkable water per person for a day. The park authorities recommend wearing reflective clothes after dark.

Nature trails

For those that don’t like to spend all day hiking or climbing, there are more leisurely outdoor options. The most popular nature trails in the park are Arch Rock (5-mile loop), Cap Rock ( 4-mile loop ), Hidden Valley (1-mile loop), Oasis of Mara (5-mile loop), and Cottonwood Spring (1-mile loop). As with all the other desert activities, for the nature trails you also need to stay hydrated and use sunscreen.

Rock climbing, birdwatching, flower spotting, and stargazing are some of the other outdoor activities you can get involved in whilst visiting the park. Get a few days off work or plan an extended weekend and visit this amazingly beautiful natural wonder. Good luck!

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stef-zisovska is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival