Imagine taking a handful of coarse sand, then taking that sand to create small, separate piles on an open landscape. Now, imagine those individual grains of sand are actually the size of cars, buses and homes! The landscape looks like a mixture between Mars and some foreign part of Earth. This is Joshua Tree National Park, 794,000 acres of desert located in southeastern California.
Joshua Tree National Park consists of two deserts, the Mojave Desert (high elevation areas) and the Colorado Desert (lower elevation areas). It's a park that offers a shifting landscape that changes every few miles, while offering some of the most bizarre and other worldly rock formations and vegetation. There is a park entrance fee of $15 (which is good for seven days) so be prepared to pay when you enter the park OR when you exit. The park's web site has more information on fees and passes here.
If you want to stay a night (or more), Joshua Tree National Park offers nine different camping areas, which cost $10-$15 per night and are on a first-come, first-served basis. (Note: make sure you get there early, especially on weekends). White Tank Campground ($10 per night) only has 15 sites and is the smallest of all the campgrounds. For more information on camping in Joshua Tree, visit the National Park web site.
How We Did It
- Bring a camera! The landscape is out of this world and you will regret it if you don't have a camera to capture it all with.
- Stop at the ranger/ information station at the park's entrances. There, they will give you a map and answer any questions you may have. Getting a map is essential and will help you navigate all that the park has to offer.
- Bring a ton of water. Joshua Tree is located in not one, but two deserts. It gets very, very hot, especially in the summer. So hot, in fact, that sometimes they have to close certain campgrounds.
- There is no electricity, running water, or cell phone service, so make sure you plan accordingly. White Tank Campground, which is one of the farthest campgrounds in the park, is about 45 minutes to 1 hour from a park entrance. Having a basic medical kit along with food and water provisions is a must.
- Finally, have fun and explore! (Just watch out for all of the cacti, they are painful to pull out of your skin if you get hit!)
Getting Joshua Tree National Park map is essential and will help you navigate all the park has to offer.