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Joshua Tree National Park Trails

Joshua Tree National Park is a 790,636-acre national park in southeast California. The park was established in 1994, and receives about 1.3 million visitors annually. Although the park is known for its desert views and bouldering, Joshua Tree is also a challenging desert Backpackers mecca. Joshua tree National Park includes parts of the Colorado Desert and Mojave Desert, and is named for the Joshua tree, which is native to the park. The Joshua tree, also known as the yucca tree, thrives in the higher elevation and cooler temperatures of the Mojave Desert. The park is also flanked by the Little San Bernardino Mountains on its southwest edge. The park is famous for its dominant geologic feature, large piles of spherical boulders. The rock formations are popular among rock climbers, and the warmer climate makes Joshua Tree National Park an off-season destination when climbing hotspots like Yosemite National Park are snowed in. The granite rocks in Joshua Tree National Park are not polished by snow or ice, and are much rougher than the rocks in northern California.
More than half of Joshua Tree National Park is designated as wilderness by the National Park Service and is accessible only by unpaved roads. The park offers backcountry campsites and trailheads, but open fires are prohibited. Backcountry visitors are required to follow Leave No Trace principles.
Joshua Tree National Park is also popular among astronomers, because the park is remote compared to most of southern California and has little light pollution.

Los Angeles, CA: Inner Basin Pass, Joshua Tree National Park

Scramble across the trailless desert in Joshua Tree's wild northeast corner to inner Basin Pass. BY EMELIE FROJEN

Joshua Tree National Park: Lost Horse Mine

Explore a desert moonscape of otherworldly cacti on this 4.2-mile hike to an abandoned gold prospect. Take plenty of water and sunscreen.

Joshua Tree National Park: Warren Peak via Black Rock

Escape the hot-air desert floor by bagging two breezy peaks with outstanding views on this 5.8-mile out-and-back hike.

Joshua Tree National Park: Coxcomb Mountains

This 12.4-mile dayhike or overnighter hits the park’s lesser-traveled northeast tip, linking cactus lands to unnamed peaks. Good navigation skills required.

Joshua Tree National Park: Fortynine Palms Oasis

Hike past massive boulders, red barrel cacti, and restless tumbleweeds to a shady oasis on this 3-mile out-and-back in Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua Tree National Park: Ryan Mountain

This popular 1.5-mile climb leads to a panoramic view of valleys, mountains, deserts, and one really cool rock formation.

Joshua Tree National Park: Lost Palms Oasis

This 7.4-mile out-and-back rolls over hills dotted with spiky yuccas, ocotillos, and cactus before dropping into the lush Lost Palms Oasis in Joshua Tree National Park.

Palm Springs, CA: Big Morongo Canyon Preserve

Sample nature trails that weave through Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, a bird-watching haven tucked between the Mojave and Colorado deserts.

Joshua Tree National Park: Mastodon Peak

In 2.6 miles, you’ll explore abandoned mine sites, learn about desert fauna, and scramble up Mastodon Peak for wide-open views of Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua Tree National Park: California Riding and Hiking Trail

Clocking in at 36.5 miles, this trail is a fine choice for hikers to see high desert landscapes, mind-blowing rock formations, and absolutely no one.

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