If you're planning a trip to Joshua Tree in southern California, look no further for inspiration on the best things to do in Joshua Tree. There are lots of ways to make your visit unique to you, but feel free to steal a few of our ideas to get you started! However, if you find yourself in need of further guidance, don't hesitate to reach out to Visit 29 Palms. They are experts in the area and can provide you with valuable recommendations on fun local activities, great places to stay, and delicious food options to enhance your experience.
1. Hike 49 Palms Oasis...in Twentynine Palms
How many palms are there!? Look, we don't make the rules, but when you're in the desert you need to create some sort of landmark and the folks around here have taken to counting trees to mark the map. The 49 Palms Oasis lies at the northern end of the park and is accessed by a 1.5-mile hiking trail (one way). Fresh water at the oasis allows more life to take hold and thrive. Please note, the trail and oasis are only open in the fall, winter, and spring. It is closed in the summer so that bighorn sheep can peacefully access the water source.
2. Find Arch Rock
Do you think you can find this famous rock in the park? Even if you're no Sherlock Holmes, we think you'll be able to find your way to this impressive formation. Follow the Arch Rock Nature Trail to your destination and be greeted by this 30-foot wide arch.
While you're in the area, see if you can also spot Skull Rock. Let your imagination wander and see what other shapes you can find in this desert rock garden.
3. Plan a Stargazing Night
Apart from the small towns in the area, there isn't a lot of development around Joshua Tree which makes it perfect for stargazing! It boasts some of the darkest skies in California and is an International Dark Sky Park. If possible plan your trip around the new moon when the sky is darkest; you can still see stars when the moon is out, but its brightness will limit your visibility. Follow these tips and more from the Joshua Tree National Park website for a memorable experience:
- Use red light only. White and blue lights disrupt our night vision and it takes 20-30 minutes for our eyes to adjust to darkness. This means you should put your phone away.
- Layer up! Low humidity makes the desert quite chilly at night.
- Bring a chair or something to sit/lie on while you stargaze.
4. Go Off-Roading!
Looking for off road trails near me? There are plenty of routes in the park that allow vehicles to drive off road. Popular options include Covington Flat and Pinkham Canyon. You can get more information on the Joshua Tree National Park website and at the visitor's center. Don't have a 4x4 vehicle? No problem. You can enjoy an off-roading adventure without the responsibility of not getting stuck. Book a tour with one of the local companies on Viator.
5. Be a Pioneer at Pioneertown
The site of several old western films and television shows, Pioneertown is an old film set that was built in 1946. At this location, well known westerns like Annie Oakley, Range Rider, and Judge Roy Bean were filmed here. The site is now privately owned and visitors can enjoy food, music, and old west reenactments! Reenactments occur on Mane Street (no, we aren't horsing around, that's actually the name of the street) every Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 pm from April to October. Visitors can enjoy six different dining options in Pioneertown and can take advantage of other entertainment like comedy and music at the Wild West Theater!