Weekend in Joshua Tree National Park
I lived in California all of my life and I have yet to experience all of the State’s national parks. I always thought that because I live so close, I can visit anytime. Up until January, the only national park I have visited in California was Yosemite. I was thrilled when my friend and I settled for Joshua Tree for our annual cabin trip. Yas! Joshua Tree, here we come!
Table of Contents
When to Visit:
I visited Joshua Tree in January. The weather was excellent for hiking as it was not to hot or too cold. Night time can be a little drafty due to the Santa Ana winds. Most blogs will recommend visiting March to May or October to November. Joshua Tree is in the desert and does experience extreme heat in the summers and cold tempatures during the winters.
The best way to visit Joshua Tree National Park is by car. I recommend renting a Jeep or four wheeler because the GPS may take you down unpaved dirt roads. We experienced a few rocky rides along the way. The dirt roads can be easily avoided by staying on the main road if you are confident on your navigation skills.
Where to Stay:
My friends and I stayed at an AirBnB called Haeven in Yucca Valley. The house has 3 bedrooms and sleeps 9 guests for $445 a night. Haeven had a rustic desert ranch vibe that fit the mood of our weekend. Haeven had all the fixings including a hot tub, yoga room, outdoor BBQ, and spacious patio area. The AirBnB was a quick 15 minute drive to Joshua Tree which was a bonus.
Driving to Joshua Tree:
I drove from the Santa Ana/John Wayne Airport which averages around 120 miles or 2 hours 26 mins. If you are coming from the Los Angeles Airport, it takes about 3 hours, 146 miles. Be mindful of traffic hour in California. You can count on rush hour Monday to Friday around 7am to 10am and 3pm to 7pm. Of course congestion hours may vary. I left around 2pm on a Friday and I did not arrive to our AirBnB in Yucca Valley until 5:30pm. It took me about 3 hours and 30 minutes due to the traffic.
Entering into Joshua Tree:
Entrance to Joshua Tree National Park is $35 per vehicle. The pass is valid for up to 7 days.
There are multiple entrances to Joshua Tree. We entered towards the main Joshua Tree Visitor Center on Park Blvd. We went hiking each day at 7:30am. There were only a few cars ahead of us at that time. By the time we exited the park at 11am, the line stretches back about a mile long (Not exaggerating). I would imagine that it would be longer in the afternoon as people head over to hike to watch the sunset. We never did an evening hike for specific reason. There is only one line going into the park. If you have an annual pass, you just show your card, but as you leave, you will need to present your annual pass with your identification.
Joshua Tree National Park
The drive through Joshua Tree was smooth. There is one lane most of the way and you’re surrounded by Joshua Trees. Use caution when you are around Joshua Trees. They are extremely sharp. I accidently graced it and immediately started bleeding. Joshua Tree has a few notable hikes that we tried to hit. Half of us were novice hikers while the other half were experts. The experts definitely eased up a little bit for us to provide us a pleasant experience.
Trailhead address: Fortynine Palms Canyon Road, Joshua Tree National Park, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277
Fourtynine Palms is located in the North part of the park that does not require an entrance fee. The trail is a 3 mile hike round trip and known for its oasis. There is a slight incline during the hike until you hit the halfway point. The trail slopes down until you hit the hidden oasis. This combination of up and down made the hike a little easier than straight incline and straight decline. The trail is a well paved dirt road.
Trailhead address: Park Boulevard (Loop Road), Joshua Tree National Park, CA 92277
Hidden Valley is one of the easier hikes in Joshua Tree. The trail is a mile long loop trail. Due to Covid, there are arrows showing hikers directions on where to go. This is great to prevent any traffic jam with other hikers. The trail has lots of rock formations and not too many Joshua Trees.
Barker Dam is an easy 1.3 mile hike with minimal incline. The reservoir was underwhelming due to the shallow stream caused by the California drought. I would visit the trail at another time when there is more water in the dam. The trail is flat and you can enjoy some petroglyphs on the rocks.
Hall of Horror
One of my friends rock climbs and he was introduce to this trail to do traverse climbing (lateral moving instead of climbing up). Hall of Horror is a hidden and unmarked hall that is wedge between rocks. You will need to go off the trail about 0.5 miles into the trail. I recommend asking someone where the hidden hall is or locate a group of people standing on rocks. My friend took us there so we did not struggle trying to find it. We were the only people in the hall but other hikers found our group and waited for us to finish with the slot. You must be willing to climb on rocks to find it. The hall is narrow so you will need to slowly climb down boulders to enter the slot.