Within Joshua Tree National Park lies two different deserts, the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert. Take the time to look through the differnent tabs below to gain a better idea of the layout of the park and the best way for you to approach a visit to the park.
The park is open year-round. There are three park entrance stations. The west entrance is located five miles south of the junction of Highway 62 and Park Boulevard at Joshua Tree Village. The north entrance is in Twentynine Palms, three miles south of the junction of Highway 62 and Utah Trail. The south entrance at Cottonwood Spring, which lies 25 miles east of Indio, can be approached from the east or west, also via Interstate 10. A fee of $15 per vehicle is charged for a 7-day admission to the park.
Most visitors to the park enter from the north side, just over the Little San Bernardino Mountains from Palm Springs. The Oasis Visitor Center is two miles from the park's North Entrance, in the town of Twentynine Palms, provides helpful orientation and information about park conditions and upcoming ranger-led programs. The main route through this portion of the park is called Park Boulevard, and takes visitors past several campgrounds, trailheads, and scenic points. A five mile extension to the breathtaking Keys View is a recommended detour on clear days.
There is plenty to do in this area of the park. The Wonderland of Rocks area contains a profusion of granite boulders of all sizes and is immensely popular with rock climbers. The popular Desert Queen Ranch tour leaves twice daily during the high season and offers a look at the lives of some colorful early twentieth century ranchers. The Fortynine Palms and Mara oases are splashes of greenery in the desert landscape. Plenty of unpaved roads and trails invite mountain bikes, hikers, and high clearance vehicle exploration.
With easy access from Interstate 10, the southern portion of the park is comprised mainly of wilderness. The Cottonwood Visitor Center has information and programs about this very different desert, the cactus-dominated Colorado. A scenic drive along the Pinto Basin Road connects the two areas of the park, passing by the Cholla Cactus Garden and cutoffs to four wheel drive roads to old mining camps. The backcountry wilderness of the Coxcomb and Eagle mountain ranges await backpackers seeking solitude.
Some Other Things To Know
While pets are allowed in the park, their activities are restricted. They must be on a leash at all times and cannot be more than 100 feet from a road, picnic area, or campground; they are prohibited from trails, and they must never be left unattended—not even in a vehicle.