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.
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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.

This easy to reach, palm-covered oasis is the perfect destination for those short on time in Joshua Tree National Park. And, if you start early on this 3-mile out-and-back, you may witness endangered desert bighorn sheep enjoying the shade and water at the oasis.

Hike to Fortynine Palms Oasis

At the parking lot, take in the expansive views of Morongo Basin to the north, before heading south on the trail. The pebble-strewn path gradually ascends 0.7 mile through a boulder field to the top of a scrub-covered hill. After a few steps, look into the distance for views of the oasis, tucked in a small canyon less than a mile ahead. From here, a switchback descent past plump, red barrel cacti ends at Fortynine Palms Oasis. Drop your pack and relax under the welcoming canopy of massive California fan palms (these giants can weigh up to 3 tons) before heading back to the trailhead.

-Mapped by Amy Balfour

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 4.8

Waypoints

FP001

Location: 34.1192303, -116.1120129

In winter, expect strong winds throughout much of the park. Hang on to hats and other loose items so they don't get blown away.

FP002

Location: 34.1169209, -116.1083651

Climb 350 feet to the top of a ridge.

FP003

Location: 34.1174894, -116.1065412

Turn right at the top of the hill. As you hike the windy ridgeline, hold on tight to anything loose.

FP004

Location: 34.1154465, -116.1065519

If you look south and squint, you'll catch the first views of the green, mop-topped fan palms in the canyon below.

FP005

Location: 34.107168, -116.106306

Pay attention: The rocks along this stretch look alike, which can make trail finding tricky on the return trip.

FP006

Location: 34.106297, -116.1054468

A broad, flat rock inside the first cluster of palms is a nice spot for a picnic. Look closely: Some of the palms have charred trunks while others have graffiti carved into them.

FP007

Location: 34.1058795, -116.1050069

Scramble over boulders to get to a second grove of palms and small seeps created by the springs. Follow the same route back to the trailhead.

Fortynine Palms

Location: 34.1071676, -116.1061871

Can you count 49 palms?

Trailhead

Location: 34.1192214, -116.1118841

Check out the sweeping view of the Morongo Basin to the north of the trailhead.

Boulder Field

Location: 34.1176226, -116.1108971

The trail twists through an imposing cluster of boulders before a short ascent.

View of Morongo Basin

Location: 34.1169209, -116.1082363

The town Twentynine Palms is visible in the distance.

First View of the Oasis

Location: 34.1154465, -116.1064231

Final Push to Oasis

Location: 34.1122576, -116.1075604

The trail gradually descends to the oasis. Red barrel cacti along the trail add a dash of color to the gray-brown landscape.

Welcome to Fortynine Palms

Location: 34.1084112, -116.107378

Palm-Framed view of Morongo Basin

Location: 34.1062881, -116.1053288

Ridgetop view of Morango Basin

Location: 34.1157485, -116.1060369

The sprawling Morongo Basin dominates the view from the ridge on your return.