General Camping Information
There are nine campgrounds in the park and they are all open year round. Six of the nine are available on a first-come first-serve basis. All of the campgrounds have tables and fire grates. There are picnic sites near the campgrounds.
Two cars, two tents, and up to six people are allowed at each family campsite. Group site capacity ranges from ten to seventy people.
Beginning 15 March, obtain reservations for sites at Black Rock, Indian Cove, and all group sites by calling 1-800-365-2267. Other campgrounds are first-come-first-served and fill early on fall and spring weekends. Group site fees are: $25.00 at Cottonwood, $20.00 / $35.00 at Indian Cove, and $20.00 / $35.00 at Sheep Pass.
Showers are not available and there are no hookups for recreational vehicles.
If you wish to have a campfire, bring your own firewood as all vegetation within the park is protected.
There is a 30-day camping limit each year. However, only 14 nights total may occur from October through May.
Water is available at Oasis Visitor Center in Twentynine Palms, Indian Cove Ranger Station, West Entrance, and Black Rock and Cottonwood Campgrounds.
Quiet hours are from 10:00 pm to 6:00 am. This includes generators and motors.
|Campground||Sites||Group Sites||Elevation||Dump Station||Water||Flush Toilet||Pit Toilet||Fire Grates||Fee|
|Black Rock||100||0||4,000 ft||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||$12.00|
|Hidden Valley||39||0||4,200 ft||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||None|
|Indian Cove||101||13||3,200 ft||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||$10.00|
|Jumbo Rock||125||0||4,400 ft||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||None|
|Sheep Pass||0||6||4,500 ft||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||None|
|White Tank||15||0||3,800 ft||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||None|
Horseback riding is a popular way to experience Joshua Tree National Park. However, because of the special requirements for horses in this environment, care should be taken in planning your trip. The lack of available drinking water is both a challenge and a limitation.
Backcountry and Wilderness Management Plan provides for 253 miles of equestrian trails and trail corridors that traverse open lands, canyon bottoms, and dry washes. Many riding trails are already open, clearly marked, and ready to be enjoyed. Other trails are in various states of development. Trail maps for the west entrance area and for the Black Rock Canyon area are available at the park.
Ryan and Black Rock campgrounds have designated areas for horses and stock animals. A $10 per night fee is charged at Black Rock. Reservations may be made by calling 1-800-365-2267. Water is not available at Ryan Campground and no charge is made for camping. Call 760-367-5541, Mon�Fri, 8 am to 4 pm, to make reservations. Reservations are not required for day use.
A permit is required to camp with stock in the backcountry. You can arrange for a permit by calling 760-367-5541. Grazing is not permitted in the park. While in the backcountry, stock animals are restricted to pellet feed. Manure must be removed from campgrounds and trailheads.
Stock use is limited to horses and mules and is restricted to designated equestrian trails and corridors, open dirt roads, and shoulders of paved roads. Riders should travel single file to reduce damage to soil and vegetation. Stock animals are not permitted within � mile of any natural or manmade water source. Horses and other stock are not permitted on nature trails, in the Wonderland of Rocks, in campgrounds, in picnic areas, or at visitor centers.
|Area||Miles from Oasis of Mara||Miles from Cottonwood||Miles from West Entrance|
|Black Rock Canyon||28||73||17|
|Cholla Cactus Garden||18||20||36|
|Oasis of Mara||0||38||34|
|Sheep Pass Campground||16||37||19|
|White Tank Campground||11||27||29|
Joshua Tree National Park is a backpacker's dream with its mild winter climate and interesting rock formations, plants and wildlife. It embraces 792,000 acres of which 630,800 acres have been designated wilderness. By observing the guidelines, your venture into the backcountry should be safe and enjoyable. It is your responsibility to know and abide by park regulations. If you have questions, contact a ranger.
If you will be out overnight, register at a backcountry board. There are twelve backcountry boards. Their location is shown on the map in the park publication, the Joshua Tree Guide. An unregistered vehicle or a vehicle left overnight somewhere other than at a backcountry board is cause for concern about the safety of the vehicle's occupants. It is also subject to citation and towing.
Your wilderness camp must be located one mile (1.6 km) from the road and 500 feet (150 m) from any trail. Make yourself aware of any day-use areas in the vicinity (they are indicated on the topo maps at the backcountry boards) and make your camp outside of them.
Washes may seem inviting places to sleep because they are relatively level, but it is important to realize that they got that way because of flash floods bulldozed the rocks and vegetation out of the way.
Water sources in the park are not potable and are reserved for wildlife so you will have yo carry in an adequate supply for drinking, cooking, and hygiene. You will want to give some thought to the trade-off between the water required to hydrate dried food verses the weight of fresh and canned food. If you want to heat something, you will need to pack in a stove and fuel as fires are prohibited in the backcountry.
Bring plastic bags to hold your garbage so you can pack it out. Buried trash gets dug up by animals and scattered by the wind; it is not a pretty sight. Do bury human waste in "cat" holes six inches (15 cm) deep. Don't bury you toilet paper; put it in plastic (zip lock works nicely) and pack it out. Leave no trace, as they say.
It is easy to get disoriented in the desert; washes and animal trails crisscross the terrain obscuring trails, boulder piles are confusingly similar, and there are not many prominent features by which to guide yourself. Do get a topographic map and compass and learn how to use them before you head out.
Know your limitations. You should not attempt to climb cliffs and stiff terrain without adequate equipment, conditioning, and training. Accidents can be fatal.
Carry a minimum of one gallon (3.8 liters) of water per person per day just for drinking; two gallons (7.6 liter) in hot weather or if you are planning a strenuous trip. You will need additional water for cooking and hygiene.
Don't forget the other essentials: rain protection, a flashlight, a mirror and whistle, a first aid kit, pencil and paper, a pocket knife, and extra food.
The desert sun can damage eyes as well as skin. Wear a hat and sunglasses and use sun block lotion liberally. Temperature changes of 40� (22� C) within a 24 hour period are common. Bring a variety of clothing that you can layer on and off as conditions change.
Although rain is relatively rare in the desert, when it comes it can really pour down. Even when it isn't raining where you are, rain in the mountains can run off so fast as to cause flash floods. Stay alert.
To minimize vegetation damage and soil erosion, stock animals are restricted to marked trails and washes. Plan to pack along sufficient water and feed (pellet form only) as your animals are not allowed to drink from any of the water sources in the park nor graze the vegetation.
A permit is required if you wish to camp in the backcountry with horses or other stock animals.
Keep your backcountry experience a safe one and let your actions protect the park as well as yourself. Please follow the following tips.
Joshua Tree contains abandoned mines and associated structures that are potentially dangerous. Supervise children closely and never enter abandoned mines.
It is easy to become dehydrated in arid desert environment. Even if you plan to drive through the park, you should have some water with you. Drink the water and do not economize. When the water is half gone, it is time to turn back. Carry enough water, at least one gallon (4 liters) per person per day; two gallons (8 liters) when it is hot or when you are involved in strenuous activity.
Campfires are permitted in campgrounds and in picnic areas where fire grates are provided. Campfires are not allowed in the backcrountry. Collecting vegetation, living or dead is prohibited, so bring your own firewood.
The dry climate cannot decompose such things as orange peels, apple cores, egg shells, and other picnic remains. Loose paper blows into the bushes and makes an unsightly mess and plastic six pack rings strangle birds. Dispose of your trash in a responsible manner and recycle when you can. During your visit, pick up the trash around the campgrounds and trails. Your actions will help inspire other visitors.
Firearms, including fireworks, traps, bows, BB guns, paint-ball guns, and slingshots are not allowed in Joshua Tree National Park.
Avoid washes after thunderstorms because of flash floods.
Pets are allowed in the park but they must be leashed at all times and they must never be left unattended, not even in the car, (temperatures can become very hot , very quickly in a car), and they are prohibited on trails.
Watch where you put your hands and feet, especially in summer when snakes are active.
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