Best Hiking Trails in Joshua Tree National Park


Though Joshua Tree might seem like a vast desert of only rocks and strange trees, don't be fooled; it's teeming with life. Species have adapted the ability to survive both the inferno of peak summer, as well as frozen winter nights amazingly well. Explore desert nature and the Joshua tree “forests” (modify your thinking of what a traditional forest looks like!) while hiking or climbing in this world class rock climbing destination.

Getting Started

Only a few hours or less from both Los Angeles and San Diego, Joshua Tree is pretty accessible to those with a car. Alternately, get yourself to the town of Twentynine Palms and hop on the free shuttle bus into and around the park.

While there, don't miss hiking up the Ryan Mountain Trail, the most popular hike in the park with great views. If you're looking for something super easy, take the loop trail to Keys View or through the Cholla Cactus Garden.

Wanna climb? Just peruse this link and you'll have plenty of schools and guides to choose from, or info on routes you're already a climber. There's even a meeting with a climbing ranger called Climbers Coffee.

When to Go

March to May are the best times to visit, with daytime and nighttime temperatures more moderate. If you enjoy baking in the hot sun of the summer, just remember to take proper steps to staying well hydrated. Winter days are also pleasant, though nighttime temperatures often drop below freezing.


Entrance fees apply. However, backcountry permits are free and self-registered, so take advantage and pack your backpacking gear.

Dog Info

Like most national parks, Joshua Tree only allows pets on a leash no longer than 6 feet in length, and never on any trails or in the backcountry. As the website suggests, anywhere you can drive your car, you can walk your pet. Want to go further afield? Leave Fido at one of the kennels in the area. Get details on pets at Joshua Tree, here.


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