Seasons, Fees and Reservations
Joshua Tree National Park is open all year, and each season offers a variety of activities highlighting different aspects of the desert for visitors. Because of extreme temperatures that routinely climb into the 100s, summer is the least popular time to visit the park. Winter days are comfortable, but the nights are freezing.
Spring and fall are high time for ranger-led programming like walks, hikes and campfire talks. Visitor centers and wayside exhibits, accessible from the park’s main roads, provide year-round information, education and other resources. In early spring — typically at the beginning of March — the Mojave Desert blooms, blanketing it in cream-colored Joshua tree panicles, yellow tickseed and other wildflowers. Cacti add flowers later in April and May. Visitors during this season should be sure to check out the park’s southern Cottonwood Springs area. Spring is also a great time of year for birding.
Standard entry to Joshua Tree National Park cost $15 per vehicle or $5 per person arriving on foot, motorcycle or bike. Entries are good for seven consecutive days, and special passes are available. Visitors can reserve camping spaces at Black Rock or Indian Cove, but most of the park’s campgrounds are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Backcountry campers must register their vehicles prior to heading into the wilderness.
Points Of Interest
On clear day — which can be rare, due to recently worsening air quality — you can see Mexico from the top of wheelchair-accessible Keys View. Other visible areas include Coachella Valley, Salton Sea and the San Andreas Fault. This overlook on the crest of the Little San Bernardino Mountains is a 20-minute drive from Park Boulevard. There’s also a turn out for the Lost Horse Mine day hike further up the road.
Covington Flats is home to some of the park’s largest Joshua trees, pinyon pines and juniper trees. An 8-mile round trip hike from a popular picnic area leads to Eureka Peak, which offers great views of Palm Springs and the Morongo Basin. There are also numerous backcountry trails in this part of the park.
Black Rock Canyon is a good destination for first-time park visitors, but it’s also the trailhead for the 35-mile-long California Riding and Hiking Trail. Many short day hikes abound here, with ample opportunities to view wildlife.