Now that you have unpacked and settled into a relaxing, stress-free life in Palm Springs, your mind turns to ideas for exploring the area. Take a desert road trip!
Located 35 miles away and an easy 45 minutes away is Joshua Tree National Park. Just so you know, there is not just one Joshua tree as the name might imply, there are thousands of them in this amazing 792,623 acre park.
How to Prepare for the Trip:
Even though it may be warm temperatures in Palm Springs, please take some kind of sweater or coat, depending on the season. The park is at a 4,000 ft. elevation. The occasional wind and climate change has caught more than one visitor off guard. The temperature can be 20 degrees difference than Palm Springs. Keep in mind, in the middle of summer temperatures can soar to 96 degrees and there is no shade.
Make sure you wear comfortable shoes. The paths are easily navigated, so tennis shoes work just fine. By the way, this is a great place for children to run and explore. NOTE: No dogs are allowed on the trails.
No matter what time of year, make sure you have plenty of water with you. There is no place to get additional water once you have passed the Visitor Center.
Fill your car with gas before you enter the park. Not that you will be driving really long distances, but if you arrive with ¼ of tank, your focus might end up being on your gas gauge instead of your surroundings. There is no place to get gas within the confines of the park.
If you are a coffee drinker, your last chance for coffee is at the Visitor’s Center at the Park Boulevard entrance.
Finally, it is easy to get caught up with the majesty of this park. Even if you think you’ll be back in time for lunch or dinner, the chances are you will not. You’ll find yourself drawn to one more trail and wanting to know what is around the corner. There is no food within the confines of the park. Ideally, you will get a box lunch from Sherman’s Deli and Bakery or Aspen Mills Bread Company.
The Joshua Tree Visitors Center – Park Boulevard, Joshua Tree (Open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)
If you plan to do a great deal of hiking, this is the place to get a detailed map of the area. However, the lines waiting for special information from the Ranger can be 10 people deep. If you are just driving through and not concerned about learning about the details of all the trails, pick up your map when you entry the actual park and pay your entrance fee.
At the Visitors Center, there is a 25 minute film. I, personally, feel is a must. Not only is the photography beautiful, you learn so much about the park. Your appreciation for the people who helped preserve this area will soar—especially as you drive out.
The gift shop offers some unique gifts, including a packet to start your own Joshua Tree. A restroom stop is important here. There are restrooms throughout the park—just don’t expect 5-star ones.
Turn right out of the Visitors Center and travel up Park Boulevard. When you get to the Rangers Station you pay your fee and get the all-important map. Then you are off.
Which trail you choose to walk or hike is up to you. Recently, I hiked the one-mile Hidden Valley Trail. This area was known as a place where cattle wrestlers hid their stolen cattle. One wonders what was said around those evening campfires. In any case, I found it a delightful trek, a few stone stairs, but otherwise, easy to navigate and even where it is steep for a little bit, there is rock nearby to help you hold on to.
The map will show you where there are picnic tables and restrooms so it is easy to plan your timing.
This is an amazing adventure and too often missed by visitors to Palm Springs. There is so much to see and explore. I’m betting you’ll want to come back on your next visit to the area.
One last tip: If you can go during a weekday, you’ll avoid weekend crowds.
$15 per vehicle.
Senior National Park Pass: If you don’t have one, purchase one at the Rangers Station where you purchase your entry ticket and you’ll get in for the $10 cost of the pass.
Park Hours: Open 24 Hours a Day
Joshua Tree National Park
6554 Park Boulevard
Joshua Tree, CA 92262
Park Information: (760) 367-5500
Direction from Palm Springs:
Take Indian Canyon North until it dead ends.
Turn Right on CA Hwy 62
In City of Joshua Tree –
Turn Right on Park Boulevard