Logo for Visit 29 Palms
Logo for Visit 29 Palms

Joshua Tree Half Marathon

Joshua Tree Half Marathon

Presented by Visit 29 Palms 

Presented by Visit 29 Palms 

November 2, 2024  |  Joshua Tree, CA

November 2, 2024  |  Joshua Tree, CA

  • Quick Info

  • Travel & Lodging

  • Explore The Area

  • Register Here

This has quickly become a favorite of thousands to cap off their racing season.

The Joshua Tree Half Marathon is a one-of-a-kind NIGHT RACE that takes you through the desert and under the stars with colorful lights leading you to the finish!

Race Day

Expo & Bib Pickup

Quick Info
  • Sandy trail loop course
  • Headlamps required!
  • 64° / 39° F
  • No wheelchairs or strollers
  • Palm Springs Airport (PSP) and more options
Race Raves logo icon

Race Raves: 4.1/5

Read more reviews from runners like you!

Course Photos

Get a feel for the terrain and landscape that await you out on the course!

Get to Know Your Half Marathon Course

  • Sandy trail loop
  • Elevation Gain: 461 ft
  • Max Elevation: 2,774 ft
  • Headlamps required!

Maps & Elevation

Course Difficulty

  • 70% Difficulty
Current Progress
Current Progress
Current Progress
Current Progress

Nighttime, rolling course with loose sand and rocks


We recommend training on soft earth trails with downhill portions and uneven ground. Check out our FREE training PDF for the Joshua Tree Half from Active at Altitude.

Aid Stations (Bring your own cup!)

image of a blue foldable cup with the Nathan brand name on it

All aid stations are cup-free so remember to bring your own hydration solution or request a FREE Nathan reusable cup when you register.

Expect about 6 aid stations on the course near mile 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 12 (Exact locations vary). A medic will be stationed typically at the aid station at or near mile 9. Aid stations include toilets, water, Gnarly Hydrate, Honey Stinger gels, basic first aid supplies, and sometimes more. 

Additional Details

Course Description & Requirements

If you’ve run with us before, you know that the scenery is extremely important to us when we choose our courses. We’ve tried something different with our Joshua Tree Half Marathon course. While the course itself isn’t necessarily scenic, the stars, night sky, joshua trees, and open desert will make the race a beautiful one! This course is on dirt roads, which depending on weather and how traveled they are before the race can greatly change the terrain. This is a very challenging course and is not always easy to run or get footing. There will be plenty of sand, so be prepared for loose sand and even significant portions with soft and deep sand. Combining this terrain with the fact that the race will be a nighttime event, we are asking each runner to bring a headlamp or some sort of light to illuminate the ground in front of you, as well as wear reflective gear/clothing.

The course will be well-marked, but it is your responsibility to know the course and pay attention to markings as well as stay to the left when running with traffic and be courteous and mindful of cars and other runners. DO NOT step off the course into traffic; you will be disqualified. We want you to stay safe.

This course is a challenging run through the Mojave Desert in Joshua Tree, CA near Copper Mountain. With the exception of a quarter mile at the start and a one mile section in the middle, this course is entirely on dirt roads and trails. The dirt roads will have sand on them with varying degrees of deepness adding to the challenge of this course. It is completely runnable, but runners should understand these conditions are difficult and not stroller friendly. That is the price we pay to run under the stars through the desert!

Time limit
All runners will have 4 hours to finish the race. That is an 18 minute mile - plenty of time for walkers! If at anytime we deem it unsafe and need to pull a runner off the course we would hope for understanding and immediate cooperation. Failure to comply will result in being banned from future events.

Required gear: Headlamps or flashlights

Recommended gear:
Trail shoes; trail gaiters; scarf/bandana/buff (runners will be fine without these items, but if you have them and prefer running with them this is a good course to use them on- the gaiters will keep sand and rocks out of your shoes and the scarf can keep you from inhaling dust. Dust is not a major problem on course, but with this many people running on these sandy roads it tends to kick up a fair amount so that is something to plan for if it is something you're sensitive to).

Location Note
To be clear, this race doesn't take place inside the National Park. It's difficult to get permission to conduct private business activities on national land (and rightly so.) Having said that, this is about as close to the park as it gets.

Joshua Tree D3S7904

Sandy Trail

This is a trail run with loose rocks and uneven terrain. Runners should wear trail shoes and train on trails to prepare for their half marathon. When in doubt - walk it out!

Pink and reflective silver hanging from a tree branch as a course marking

Course Markings 

We will have a variety of course markings for this event. They include pink reflective ribbons and additional signage to keep you on track. (click the image to expand)

BrianHead 20220812 0724 Edit scaled

Headlamps Required

This is a nighttime race with rough terrain. All participants must wear a headlamp on course to prevent injuries

Mile-By-Mile Course Overview

Start: Runners will start at the Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground. They will head south down Sunfair Rd (paved road) for about .25 mile. There they will turn off the road onto a dirt road and head west.

Mile 1-2: The dirt road runners turn onto is a little more narrow than the paved Sunfair Rd. We will choke the start line by waves to thin things out a bit, but runners should remember running etiquette (namely, stay to the right and when passing call out “on your left”). There is about a 200 foot climb from mile 1 to just past mile 2. This is probably one of the sandier spots.

Mile 2-3: Once you get past the little climb after mile 2 then you continue running on dirt roads through a semi residential area until you turn onto Center Ave at mile 3. Our first aid station will be in this section.

Mile 3-5: Runners will turn and head north on Center Ave (unmarked road) and continue running on dirt roads until the reach Winters Rd. Our second aid station will be near mile 5.

Mile 5-9: Runners will turn and head east on Winters Rd and enjoy a brief break from the dirt road as they run on pavement until just past mile 6. From there, the road turns back into dirt and there is a short 100 foot climb from mile 6.5 to mile 7. Runners will then continue on the dirt road until the turn south onto Mt Shasta Ave. There will be an aid station near mile 7 and mile 9. By now the sun will have fully set, stars will be out in force, and you will be high up away from any cars and lights. Truly out in the desert.

Mile 9-11: Runners continue on Mt Shasta Ave until they turn west onto Sonora Rd. We will have an aid station near mile 11. This section is all dirt.

Mile 11-Finish: At about mile 11.5 runners will turn off Sonora Rd. onto Coyote Valley Rd (which turns into Sunfair Rd). From here to the finish is a nice little downhill stretch all on dirt roads bringing you back into the campground for your finish.

*This is a difficult course with plenty of sand. Runners should prepare accordingly. We believe the challenge and the night sky make it worth it.

This race will be at NIGHT. Running through the desert outside Joshua Tree under the stars and the moon with the quiet of the night, the deep canyons in the distance, silhouetted buttes, and the twinkling desert all around will be an unforgettable experience. Explore Joshua Tree by day – run it at night.


Wander Project Final Logo color

Support Our

Park Communities

Fundraise for your chosen race and your registration fee could be waived. All funds go to Wander Project to support efforts in and around the communities that host our events.

Learn more about Wander Project >>

Volunteer with Us!

Our amazing volunteers help runners at the race expo, finish line, merch tent, and beyond! Join us for a 3-4hr shift and earn a $50 or $100 credit towards a future race.

Pro-tip: Volunteer at the expo and run the next day OR ask a friend to volunteer and "gift" you the credit (or use it themselves!)


Train with Vacation Races

FREE PDF download for each event!

No matter what your skill level, when you're pushing your limits it's nice to have a little guidance! We're excited to offer FREE training PDFs for all levels.

Know Your Guidelines

- Read your race details! Following event rules helps us to put on safe, sustainable events.

- We are a cup-free event! Please stick to reusable water bottles and avoid bringing disposable items to the race.

- Be courteous towards fellow runners on and off the course.

Join the Community

Vacation Races is honored to have a community of runners who actively support one another! We highly recommend joining one our Facebook groups to get input from other runners, share stories, and learn about the latest updates.

Joshua Tree Half Logistics

Come here to prepare for your race!

Race Expo & Bib Pickup

Bib Pickup Options

Choose your preference during registration:

  • Pickup at Race Expo: Recommended! Expos are always the Friday before the race.
  • Pickup on Race Morning: Please avoid. Typically available at the shuttle site or start line.
  • Shipped to your house: $30 fee applies. Available as an add-on in Runsignup until 1 month before the event. 

Race Expo Details

  • Browse the Expo: Official merchandise like exclusive Hydro Flasks, vendor offers, and race info tent available! 
  • Make S'mores: Chill at the expo and roast marshmallows at our expo campfires from Solo Stove!
  • Bring Your Own Bag: We do not provide bags at the expo. Help us reduce waste and bring your own bag!
Parking map for joshua tree half marathon

Race Day Schedule 


The race starts at 6:00 pm (EST) sharp! Please plan to arrive by 4:30 pm.

Due to the timeline of the day, if you arrive at the expo after 3:30pm - please plan to stay until your start time. We'll have hot chocolate and coffee to keep you going!


11:00 AM - Race expo & bib pickup open

4:30 PM - All cars should be parked for 6pm start time & start line prize raffle begins!

5:00 PM - Race expo closes & last call for bib pickup!

5:30 PM - Pacers line up

5:45 PM - Runners line up & gear check last call

5:50-6:20 PM - Access to the parking lot will close to allow the race to begin

5:55 PM - National anthem


Waves will start every few minutes

8:45 PM - Awards ceremony

Due to the nature of this course, a headlight is required for all runners! We will have some for sale at the expo, but you should plan ahead and bring your own.

Parking & Drop-off

Parking & Runner Drop-off

Location: Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground (2601 Sunfair Rd, Joshua Tree, CA 92252)

We will have plenty of parking to accommodate all of our runners. All cars should be parked no later than 4:30 pm. 

Runners will park in the designated parking areas. Please get there early to avoid any rush and to give yourself time to get ready for the race. If you have a reserved RV spot or are camping with Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground, please park your vehicle in your camping area and walk down to the race.


If you are dropping a runner off, please follow the drop-off signs. You will turn right off Sunfair Rd. onto La Brisa Dr. (north side of the property) and turn right to enter the property from the north gate. Unload your runner(s), then quickly exit the property back onto Sunfair Rd.

Please drop your runner off no later than 4:30pm. If you intend to stay and wait for your runner, you should park with the rest of event traffic.

layout of parking and finish line

Parking and finish line staging


Spectators and runners are welcome around the finish line to cheer on runners. They can park in the same parking lot and walk to the finish area. 

Please DO NOT drive to other areas of the race course to watch runners. This will add an unnecessary danger especially being a nighttime race. For spectators who are staying in the campground or RV camping, please walk down to the finish line. 

We recommend downloading the RaceJoy app to track your runner's progress and send them cheers along the way! Once your runner has crossed the finish line, please exit the runner recovery area to avoid crowding. The beverages, supplies, and medical tent at the finish line are for runner use only - thank you!

Zero Waste

As nature lovers, we are committed to keeping our events sustainable and managing negative impacts on the environment. Here's how you can help us:


Single-use plastic is a huge source of waste at any public event. We have reduced that impact by making our events "cup-free". 

What does that mean for you?

Coolers of Water and Gnarly Hydrate (electrolyte drink) are available at all aid stations, but cups will not be provided on course or at the finish line. In order to stay hydrated, we ask you to bring one of the following:

1. Reusable water bottle

2. Nathan reusable cup - These light-weight cups fold into a pocket or waistband. Request one when you sign up to run!

3. Hydration pack - These are refillable backpacks meant for running that allow you to access fluid via a built-in straw.

image of the foldable Nathan cup next to a person folding the cup into their waistbag

Stay hydrated on course with a reusable cup!


You can help us reduce trash by sorting disposable items into the appropriate container. 

You’ll notice three containers at our events:

  • Compostables: Organic goods like banana peels and most food items (without the wrapper please!)
  • Recyclables: Paper, aluminum, cardboard, steel, and glass. Please dump out any liquids into the compost bin BEFORE recycling the container.
  • Everything Else: Non-recyclable food wrappers like from used gel packets and styrofoam. Please dump out any food matter BEFORE throwing away the container.

Please avoid putting organic waste and compostable items in the wrong bin. It gets gross to sort through.

Race Results and Photos

Race Results

Visit RunSignup for current and past race results.

Runner times are available ~20 minutes after you finish the race. Keep in mind, the results are not official until all runners have crossed the finish line, and have been reviewed by the event director. Because our age group winners are based on chip time, it is possible to cross the finish line before someone else in your age group while still finishing with a slower time than them. 

Top Finisher but missed the awards ceremony? You can request to have your place medal shipped to you!

Got questions about your placement? please email timing@runsum.com.


Race photos are typically available for FREE via RunSignup the Friday following the week of the race. We will send out an email when they're posted to the album. 

Award Ceremony Photos (legacy)
View past awards ceremony photos below:

Share your experiences with us! 
Be sure to use #JTHalf in any photos you post from the race or your adventures exploring the park so we can share in the fun with you!

Race Merchandise

Exclusive Joshua Tree Marathon merchandise will be available both at the race expo and near the finish line! When possible, we'll have race merch for sale in our online store after the race is over. Please allow time for us to add items online.

Still need to train? Join the email list.

We'll send you updates about registration opening, price jumps, and more to keep you on track! 

Other events you're going to love!

Success message!
Warning message!
Error message!