Joshua tree park is named after a tree that has pointed leaves and grows in the Mojave desert. Joshua tree national park is where two deserts combine or meet together in a way that creates a desert ecosystem where animals make their homes, panoramic views of rocky formation landscapes.
Joshua tree is only limited to nature creations but also offers its visitors the information, history of the place. Don’t forget to see the rock art on rocks which defines the history of the place and people of the desert.
Joshua tree park is not only limited to hiking. One can add thrill to their journey by climbing up the rocks and bouldering. In case you want to enjoy the view under the stars then there are various campsites where you can camp. You can also join the rangers program.
Best hikes in Joshua tree
Boy scout trail
One of the longest trail hikes in the Joshua tree is located near the Indian cave station. The
journey to the boy scout trail starts from the keys west trail. The trail can be hiked through many different routes.
But the popular one is the 15-mile trail which starts from the boy scout backcountry board. Other ways to hike the boy scout trail are
● You can hike the trail one way which is 7.1 miles.
● You can hike the trail through Wonderland of Rocks or through Windows/Maze loop area.
● Another thrilling trail, which starts from the Indian cave and takes you through a willow hole, and brings you back to the Indian cave.
If you start your journey from key west you will hike through the desert of Joshua trees, after passing the desert the trail transmits into rocky points which also offers scenic and panoramic viewpoints along the trail. Then the trail will take you through canoniyan and ends at the Indian cave.
Boy scout trail will surprise you at every moment as it takes you through the upper desert
followed by the lower desert.
Don’t be surprised to see the cactus and wildlife from the beginning of the journey. Wildlife is more visible during the morning time.
The hike to boy scout is ranked between intermediate and tough by hikers. The trail is decent at the start but as the journey continues the trail levels up and it becomes difficult to hike for some people. Tough the climb is only 1300 feet, still, it is hard because of the sand.
If you start your journey as described above you have to save your energy for the back journey.
Besides that, the trailhead has toilets and trash can facilities. No water facilities are provided at the trailhead which means you have to carry your own water bottle with you.
Dogs are not allowed on trail for specific reasons(don’t know maybe because of trail length).
Wall street mill
Located near a wonderland of rocks in queens valley wall street mill is considered the best
gold mill in Joshua tree. Just like the boy scout trail, wall street mill also has two routes or
trailheads to complete the journey.
● Start your journey from the trailhead of the wonderland of rocks. Barker Dam is also
accessible through this route.
● Or start from the parking area. Starting from the first trailhead will make 2.5 miles round trip for you.
Before the beginning of your journey, you can know about the history of wall street mill
which is accurately described on the national park service sign at the trailhead.
To know the exact history behind wall street mill you can read the board sign. The history of the wall street mill revolves around the gold rush which was happened during the depression.
In search of gold and silver, the miners scattered the land and when the ore was mined it was sent to wall street to be extracted. Since then the wall street mill is known as the popular and best mill in Joshua tree.
From wonderland, trailhead takes the right route which leads to wall street mills. After walking for a few minutes the trail meets the second trailhead and further continues to the wall street mill.
After 0.7 miles walk the trail splits, the left routes will take you to ruins of wonderland ranch and pink house. Walk straight to continue your journey to wall street mill.
Some of the highlights of the trail are windmill which rises up from the sand or desert.
This highlight can be visible after 0.3 miles walk from the second trailhead.
Just passing the windmill and walking for 0.2 miles the trail offers visitors with another highlight which is a memorial for Worth Bagley. Further, walking for 0.2 miles will bring you to wall street mill.
Wall street mill is a short and easy hike, which can be conquered in 1 hour. As stated in the above trail this is also open for hikers.
Cholla garden cactus loop
Cholla garden is a loop of 0.25 miles, located in the upper Mojave desert. The trail leads
through the Corolla cactus garden. This garden features the cutest cactus plants.
The cholla is also known as the teddy bear cactus. But unlike teddy, it only looks cute from far, as you come close to the plant the spines will attract to your skin. Because of this, children care is recommended throughout the trial.
Though the spines make the garden somehow dangerous, but also help in the survival of the desert at the same time.
To reach the cholla cactus garden or trailhead you should take pinto basin road for 12 miles
from Boulevard Park. This is one the shortest and easiest hike Joshua tree, recommended for family and kids(be alert around cactus). This trip will end in .25 miles and take
Another short hike and one of the best hikes in Joshua tree Barker dam features wildlife, plant life, rocky landscapes and holds the history of the place.
If you want to explore wildlife, or you are a photographer, a history enthusiast, or just want to explore nature with your family then look for Barker dam in Joshua tree.
Barker dam trail is a 1.1-mile long trail that covers almost most of the highlights in Joshua tree.
The trail is easy to hike, has no elevation gain, and requires no intense scrambling. The trail also covers the highlights of the Mojave desert which features plant life and monzogranite boulders that are present in different shapes and sizes.
The rainy season makes the desert unleashes its commodity and offers the visitors wonderful views. To experience the wildlife one can go to the lush vegetation which surrounds the broker dam, here you can see the different animals of different species from birds to reptiles to desert bighorn.
If you want to know the history of the place, look at the exhibits along the trail which tells the history of the dam.
If you are into art, you will love the rock art sight, which tells the human history with a desert. Avoid climbing or touching the rocks or boulders because the art can be present on any portion of the rock.
You can start your journey to Barker dam from different locations.
● Start from Echo T parking lot, though the trail adds extra 0.6 miles to the journey and
makes it 1.7mile long trail.
● You can also enter the Joshua tree from the western entrance. Then you have to follow
the drive-through of 11.6 miles to reach the intersection rock area.
After reaching there you have to follow the board sign and then turn left for “Hidden Valley Campground, Key’s Ranch, Barker Dam, Ranch Tours.” After covering the 2.3 miles distance you
will reach the barking dam parking lot.
● There are other two ways to reach Barker dam that you can check on nps.govt
Hidden Valley trail
One of the easiest and short hikes in Joshua tree “hidden valley trail” is located near Twentynine Palms. The trail gives an overview of the park with plant life, wildlife rocky
landscapes along the trail. This small valley is surrounded by boulders.
Begin your journey from the parking lot which passes between rock walls into the hidden valley.
After walking through the tight route the trail will reach the junction where you will find a plain surface with sand. Choose the direction from here and start exploring the place.
To identify the particular animal or plants sign boards are fixed along the trail. The person
can read the boards to know about plants or animals. The hidden valley is also popular for cloning, there are some separate sections for climbers to challenge their climbing ability.
One can scrabble over the mountains for fun and views. As you climb up you will see a better view.
The hidden trail offers its visitors the best in return for their efforts. Besides that, there is a Hidden Valley Campground which has 39 sites.
The campground welcomes a lot of climbers across the world who spend most of the time scaling mountains with their teammates or alone to test their ability.
In case you don’t want to climb or don’t want to stress your muscles, the picnic area is there just close to the parking lot. The parking lot is surrounded by the tallest rock that provides a beautiful view.
A 3 mile submit to Ryan mountain is a straight hike filled with amazing landscapes and
panoramic views. The dirt trail with more than 5,000 stone steps is surrounded by a forest
of Joshua trees. The trail also offers panoramic views of trees and rocks.
As you continue your journey you will be offered with a breathtaking view of the heart of the park from the top.
To reach the trailhead
● Go 2.1miles east from the intersection with keys board view. At the side of Ryan mountain, you will see the parking lot.
The trail starts high from the beginning as there is an elevation gain of 1.5 miles. The trail is structured efficiently, the rocks from the surroundings are used or built into steps.
After covering 0.2 miles distance the trail will reach the only junction from where it splits into two directions. The left route leads to the sheep pass group camp. To continue your journey to submit follow the right direction.
As you continue your journey, you will be offered with excellent views of the wonderland of
rocks. Through your journey, you can see nature’s beauty in rock formations that reflect
the Joshua tree landscapes.
Continuing your journey will bring you to one of the main highlights of the trail i.e rock
formation on the slope of the mountain. From here walk for another 0.45 miles as the trail makes its way up. To reach the top of the submit you have to cover another 0.6 miles up with an elevation gain of 400 feet.
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Lies on the western edge of the little sand Warren peak is a 5.5 Nile long trail that offers endless viewpoints throughout the journey. This is the highest point on the western edge which takes around 5,000 footsteps.
The journey to the summit starts from the black rock campground.
From the beginning of the trail, you will see a lot of Joshua trees along the trail. From the campground walk left to the campsite 30 to start the journey.
The trail splits after every trailhead. Take the appropriate direction which leads to the submit. After the first trailhead, the trail will take you to the undulating desert.
From there it takes you to the center of Black Rock Canyon. Further, the trail passes through the Black Rock Spring and fork (here you can access the panorama loop that breaks off at left).
To continue the submit follow the right path or direction. As the journey continues the trail takes you to Y labeled WV-WP, here again, at the left is Warren view, but you have to follow the right to complete the submit which is about 400 feet away from you now.
Besides the journey, Warren peaks offer its visitors the scenic view of Majeva forest and
Coachella Valley at the same time.
Besides that Warren peak offers a panoramic and breathtaking view of three mountains that are- Mount San Jacinto which lies in the south and more than a 10,000-foot peak.
Mount San Gorgonio which lies in the west, is also one of the highest peaks in southern California with around 11,500 feet. Eureka Peak is one of the lowest peaks in Joshua tree that lies in the east.
The maze loop
Another long and one of the best hikes in the Joshua tree maze loop is a combination of flat, sandy, and rocky surfaces. If you love hiking more than camping or climbing then a maze loop trail is surely for you.
The Trailhead of the loop is a few miles away from the entrance.
Begin your loop journey from the parking lot which is 1.8 miles left to the west entrance
After covering 1.8 miles see the board on the right side which has “Maze loop 4.5 miles” written on it.
Though the trail is loved by hikers but you have to do climbing at the end which adds thrill and fun to the journey. The trip is done anticlockwise.
In the beginning, the trail starts plain on a road surface which further turns into a rocky surface which is what Joshua tree trails are known for.
Sandy wash, rocks, and branches create the full deal of desert trail until the maze trail begins. As the journey continues the same for another 1 mile after which the trail splits left, which rises high and falls with the surface.
Walking for another 3 miles will bring you to the end of the trail where you relax and fit the
view in your eyes.
If you visit the maze loop during springtime or after rain then you can expect to see plentiful wildflowers.
Then you can head back to the trailhead by following the loop trail of 4.5 miles. In case you want to explore more then you can head to Big Pine Trail on the right and avoid turning left to the north view trail.
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Lost palms oasis
One of the best hikes in Joshua tree lost palms is located in the southern part of the park. The trail is loved by hikers who visit every year to hike in Joshua tree, which also makes it one of the crowded trail Joshua tree.
Begin your hike from the parking lot that has cottonwood spring parking. Before continuing further you can use the bathroom or fill water as you pass Joshua Tree NP Cottonwood Visitor Center, this is the only place where you can use the bathroom on the trailhead.
To reach the trailhead you will pass through the campground and then reach the cottonwood spring. The trailhead is at the back of the parking lot where your journey starts.
Lost palms oasis is a moderate hike that showcases the excellent views of the oasis, peaks, Salton sea at the south is also one of the top highlights of the trail.
The trail to lost palms follows ups and downs as you continue the journey. Always carry plenty of water with yourself to avoid dehydration during hot days.
You may also get a glimpse of wildlife through this hike, but the wildlife and plant life of the southern part of the park is totally different from the northern and western parts of the park.
If you love desert hiking then you going to love this hike, because most of the hike is a desert hike. Through your hike pay, close attention and you will see cacti and if the luck is right you may get a glimpse of Salton sea.
How to reach Joshua tree
Reaching Joshua tree is easy, a few hours’ drives will land you in Joshua tree park. Joshua tree national park is a few miles away from many metropolitan cities.
- 140 miles away in the east from Los angles
- 225 miles from southwest of Las Vegas, Nevada
- 175 miles away from the northeast of San Diego
- 222 miles from west of Arizona and Phoenix
While planning your drive from any city, avoid using Gps navigation system because in most cases it tells the roads full of soft sand where driving any normal vehicle is impossible.
When to visit Joshua tree
Just like any other hiking trip the best time to visit the Joshua tree is during springtime. You can visit the Joshua tree twice a year, one from March to April and the second is in October to November.
You can also visit the Joshua tree during wintertime when the temperature is pleasant or ok during the daytime. Also if you want to avoid the crowd factor then go during the winter season.
Avoid summers, as the temperature goes up to 100 in Joshua tree during summer because of the desert. In my suggestion spring is the best season to explore the greenery of plants and bloom of flowers in the desert.