Hiking in Joshua Tree National Park can be a fun and rewarding experience as in other national parks. It is a great way to both see and experience the park.
There are many hikes that offer some of the best scenery that the park offers. Here are some of the more popular ones.
Trails of Joshua Tree National Park
|Trail||Distance mi / km Roundtrip||Time||Difficulty||Description|
|Boy Scout||16.0 / 25.8||1 - 2 days||Moderate||Scenic trail through the edge of the Wonderland of Rocks.|
|49 Palms Oasis||3.0 / 4.8||2 - 3 hours||Moderately strenuous||Several stands of fan palms and pools of water are found at the oasis.|
|Lost Horse Mine / Mtn||4.0 / 6.4||3 - 4 hours||Moderately strenuous||Site of ten-stamp mill. Summit is at 5,278 feet / 1,583 m.|
|Lost Palms Oasis||8.0 / 11.2||4 - 6 hours||Moderate||Canyon with numerous palm stands. A side trip to Victory Palms and Munsen Canyon involves scrambling.|
|Mastodon Peak||3.0 / 4.8||2 - 3 hours||Strenuous||Excellent views of the Eagle Mountains and Salton Sea. Summit is at 3,371 ft / 1,138 m.|
|Ryan Mountain||3.0 / 4.8||2 - 3 hours||Strenuous||Excellent views of Lost Horse, Queen, and Pleasant Valleys. Summit is at 5,461 ft / 1,638 m.|
|Trail||Length mi / km Loop||Starting Point|
|Arch Rock||0.3 / 0.5||White Tank Campground, opposite campsite number 9|
|Barker Dam||1.1 / 1.8||Barker Dam parking area|
|Cap Rock||0.4 / 0.6||Cap Rock parking area, at the junction of Park Blvd and Keys View Road. Wheelchair assessable.|
|Cholla Cactus Garden||0.25 / 0.4||20 miles north of Cottonwood Visitor Center.|
|Cottonwood Spring||1.0 / 1.6||Cottonwood Springs parking area.|
|Hidden Valley||1.0 / 1.6||Hidden Valley picnic area.|
|High View||1.3 / 2.1||Northwest of Black Rock Campground.|
|Indian Cove||0.6 / 0.1||West end of Indian Cove Campground.|
|Keys View||0.25 / 0.4||Keys View.|
|Oasis of Mara||0.5 / 0.8||Oasis Visitor Center, Twentynine Palms. Wheelchair accessible.|
|Skull Rock||1.7 / 2.7||Jumbo Rocks Campground, just beyond loop E.|
California Riding and Hiking Trail
Thirty-five miles of the California Riding and Hiking Trail pass through the park. Two to three days are required to hike the entire length of the trail but shorter hikes of 4, 6.7 or 11 miles (6.4, 10.7 or 17.6 km) are possible. Additional information on hikes in the park is available at park visitor centers.
Joshua Tree National Park is one of America's best climbing sites, especially in the winter. The park's natural walls feature the sharp edges, cracks and high friction that experienced climbers favor. There are also routes of varying difficulty.
Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most popular rock climbing areas in the world. More than 4,500 established routes offering a wide range of difficulty are concentrated within about 100,000 acres of park land. Over one million people visit Joshua Tree each year, many of them rock climbers. The National Park Service mission requires park managers to provide for the enjoyment of the park by today�s visitor while conserving and protecting park resources for future generations. Dramatic increases in the number of visitors engaging in rock climbing contribute to an already difficult, sometimes contradictory, task. Park managers are concerned about trash, soil erosion, vegetation damage, human waste disposal, natural and cultural resource protection, and the quality of each visitor�s experience.
Guided by the provisions of its Backcountry and Wilderness Management Plan, the park is working with the climbing community to implement a comprehensive approach to climbing management. The park�s goals are to restore to a natural condition those areas already impacted by climbing, to mitigate future impacts, and to prevent the cumulative impacts of climbing from increasing to unacceptable levels. A committee comprised of members of the climbing community, conservation organizations, and interested individuals is providing recommendations to the park on a variety of climbing-related issues.
Under the provisions of the Backcountry and Wilderness Management Plan, climbers may replace existing unsafe bolts, and new bolts may be placed in non-wilderness areas through a monitored process. You may obtain a checklist of bolting guidelines for non-wilderness areas at entrance stations and visitor centers or go to "http://www.nps.gov/jotr/activities/climbing/bolts.html" download a copy. You must obtain a special-use permit to use a power drill in non-wilderness.
Bolting in wilderness is currently prohibited. A permit system is being developed for installing new bolts in wilderness with the goal of ensuring that the cumulative impacts of climbing in wilderness not exceed 1998 levels. Placing bolts in wilderness with power drills will not be allowed.
Whether a particular climb is in or out of wilderness is not always easy to determine. Go to "http://www.nps.gov/jotr/activities/climbing/climbs.html" for a current list of what is in and what is not, but remember that it could change as they are able to locate climbs with ever more accurate GPS coordinates.
General Climbing Regulations
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.
Activity & Calendar Page
Address, Email & Phone Guide
Biking & Four Wheeling
Brochures, Maps, Written Info
California Riding & Hiking Trail
Jobs, SCA, Volunteer Positions
Junior Ranger Programs
Life in the Desert
Size & Visitation Info
The Desert Fan Palm
Wildflower Blooming Guide
Copyright © 1995 - 2007 Hillclimb Media
This site is in no way associated with the United States Government, the Department of the Interior or the National Park Service