Read about our entire vacation to Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park in my “48-Hours in Palm Springs” article here!
Joshua Tree National Park is roughly two hours from Los Angeles depending on where in the city you are and which entrance of the park you choose. It’s also only about an hour from downtown Palm Springs making it the perfect one or two-day vacation spot from either one!
We stayed at The Saguaro Hotel in Palm Springs before visiting the park. Check out my, “Where to Stay in Palm Springs,” post to learn more!
We woke up before the crack of dawn to drive out and get to the desert before sunrise. It should go without saying, but the desert gets especially hot in the summer, and that’s when we visited.
Here are a few tips before visiting the desert:
We only spent one day in Joshua Tree National Park, so this is by no means a complete list of things to do, but we saw some amazing highlights during our drive through the park, and here is a list of where we went:
Sunrise in The Cholla Cactus Garden
We started at the south end of the park and worked our way north. As I mentioned above, we started early to beat the heat of the midday sun in the desert. The first place we stopped, aside from the welcome sign, was the Cholla Cactus Gardens.
We continued up the road and pulled over at any viewpoint and parking lot that looked cool. Arch Rock was really amazing, because the rocks were right up close to the parking lot, and we were the only people there.
Finding Joshua Trees
The ecology of this National Park is absolutely fascinating. It’s the convergence of The Colorado and The Mojave Desert surrounded by The Little San Bernardino Mountains.
The Cholla Cacti are in the Colorado Desert, and the Joshua Trees are in the Mojave Desert. When you cross from one to the other you can really tell; the landscapes look completely different, and the Joshua Trees are very different from the cacti.
Visit The Visitor Centers
I always recommend visiting Ranger Stations or Visitor Centers in National Parks. We stopped into The Western Entrance Station of Joshua Tree National Park and learned all about the different deserts and landscapes, the wildlife living in the harsh ecosystem, and finally figured out the names of the plants we had been seeing all morning.
Ending at the visitor center made me want to explore the park more with my newly learned information. Instead, I will just have to keep it in mind until my next trip back.
After our day in the national park we stopped at The Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Museum of Assemblage Sculpture and then Pioneertown. Read both of my guides below to check out these cool roadside stops!
Talkin' 'bout Tacos:
I'm Taylor, aka Tacos! I am sharing my journeys and experiences from across the world hoping to inspire travel and adventure in all who read!