Updated: Feb 24
One of the best way to see Joshua Tree National Park is spending the day there hiking or even camping in the park. Joshua Tree is famous for the weird looking Yucca trees, the park is filled with hundreds of them. Here are my top picks for what to do in Joshua Tree National Park.
HIDDEN VALLEY NATURE TRAIL
Hidden Valley Nature Trail is one of the best spots for rock climbing, not only that but it is also very close to campgrounds. It is a great place to take photos of the big rocks and trees. The trail is a scenic short 1-mile loop. It is also one of the closest stops from the main entrance of the park.
WALL STREET MILL TRIAL
Wall Street Mill in Joshua Tree is considered to be the best preserved gold mill in Joshua Tree. The hike to the mill is 2.4-miles from the parking lot by Barker Dam, the trail provides access to Barker Dam and Wall Street Mill. On the way to the mill you will come across the Key's monument which is about the history of the mill's owner , Bill Keys.
Keys view is Joshua Tree's highest viewpoint. The viewpoint offers panoramic views of the mountains and Coachella Valley. It is especially beautiful if you can make it out for sunrise or sunset. The walk to the top is very short and moderately steep. You get a view of the San Andreas fault line as well.
LOST HORSE MINE
Lost horse mine is an old historic gold and silver mine in Joshua Tree. You can hike to the mine and back to the parking lot the same way for a 4-mile round trip hike. Or you can choose to do the whole lost horse mine loop which is a 6.7-mile loop. The hike is rated as moderate with slight incline and uphill climbing. The trail is rocky but you get amazing views of wild flowers, ravines, Joshua trees, and yuccas.
Ryan ranch is right beside Ryan campground. It is a short 0.8-mile round trip hike. It is good hike for people of all fitness levels. And is popular for hiking, walking, bird sighting, and nature walks. You can start the trail from the campground and from the parking lot. The trail rewards you with remains of the ranch, as well as old metal tins. There are large rock structures around as well, which is fun to climb.
RYAN MOUNTAIN TRAIL
Ryan mountain is at the center of Joshua Tree National Park. It is a well marked trail that takes you to the summit of the mountain. The trail is only 3-miles round trip, but climbs 1,050 feet up a rocky trail with stone stairs. The hike is moderate/difficult but is a great place for a view of the park. It is a very popular trail and can get very busy. Be prepared to be out in the sun and bring water.
You can probably guess by the name that skull rock is a skull-shaped rock made from dessert granite. You can drive right up to the skull rock to take photos, or there is also a parking lot and trail head by the Jumbo Rocks campground. The skull rock nature trail is a 2.7-mile round trip trail. It is a good trail for all fitness levels, it is a flat trail and full of wild flowers. Lots of tourist gather around here to see the rock, so if your not a fan of crowds then try getting here early.
CHOLLA CACTUS GARDEN
Cholla cactus garden is a short nature trail at only 0.25-miles long. It is a flat trail that takes you around nearly 10 acres of cholla cactus. The cholla cactus are also known as "teddy bear" cactus because of it's fuzzy-looking spines. It is a great place to take photos and an amazing place to see a lot of cholla cactus all together in one place.
DRIVE THROUGH THE PARK
Even if you don't have much time you should still visit Joshua Tree National Park. Just driving through the park is worth it with all the amazing views you will be seeing. The park is so surreal with all the jumbo rocks and yuccas.
I recommend camping in Joshua Tree National Park, but if you do prefer a more luxury experience than there are a lot of hotels outside the park.
Check out the map below that pinpoints all the places listed above to do in Joshua Tree.
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