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.

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Hike the Lost Palms Oasis

Home to the largest stand of fan palms in Joshua Tree National Park, the Lost Palms Oasis is a refreshing reward for hikers on this 7.4-mile desert trek. Starting near the southern border of the park at Cottonwood Spring Trailhead, the hike climbs to the southeast through scrub-covered desert. Watch for hummingbirds that dart around the surrounding yuccas, chollas, and ocotillos. (In early summer, red flower clusters adorn the tips of the ocotillo plants.)

Massive boulder piles and rocky gullies become more common as the trail nears Lost Palms Oasis. At mile 2.3, turn right into a wash and follow the sandy trail through a maze-like wall of rocks. Next, descend into a small canyon lined with gullies and gorges and continue hiking southeast. One mile later, turn right onto a short spur trail that leads to bird’s-eye views of the green, shaggy-topped fan palms. After 3.5 miles, a short, downward scramble drops down to the oasis, a prime spot for picnicking and bouldering. After relaxing at the oasis, retrace the route back to the trailhead.


Lost Palms Oasis Gear List

Synthetic T-shirt
Synthetic shorts or pantsSynthetic undies
Wool hiking socks
Hiking shoes or boots
Sunscreen (SPF 15+)

Midweight synthetic or fleece long-sleeve top
Wool or fleece hat
Waterproof/breathable jacket and pants
Map, compass, GPS unit
Water containers and water treatment
First-aid kit
Extra food and snacks
Firestarting kit
Lighweight gloves
TP and trowel

-Mapped by Amy Balfour

Lost Palms Oasis

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 11.9



Location: 33.7369162, -115.810656

Cottonwood Spring: Once an important water-gathering spot for Cahuilla Indians and prospectors, the spring here now lures birdwatchers hoping to catch glimpses of ravens, slickers, cactus wrens, and hooded orioles.


Location: 33.735264, -115.807595

Pass the first trail sign and continue southeast.


Location: 33.7316119, -115.8014452

Stay straight at 3-way junction. The Mastodon Peak Trail veers to the left.


Location: 33.72958, -115.797002

Hike past the one mile marker.


Location: 33.729434, -115.795509

A precariously perched rock can be seen on the left. Continue hiking southeast through a desert landscape of rocks, shrubs, and cacti.


Location: 33.7223587, -115.7835603

Pass a “Mile 2” marker, then meander southeast past the surrounding ridges and rock piles.


Location: 33.7194852, -115.7777882

Turn right to follow a wash. The sandy trail winds through a craggy, maze-like wall of rocks.


Location: 33.7193893, -115.7776299

Follow signs leading out of wash. The trail soon descends into a small canyon lined with gullies and gorges.


Location: 33.7154872, -115.7682395

Tricky stretch: When you reach a ridge above a narrow gully, turn right off the ridge and drop onto a rock-bordered path. From here, the trail rolls across a series of hills and gullies.


Location: 33.7126136, -115.7649779

There’s no camping beyond this day-use sign. Bighorn sheep and other wildlife drink from the springs at night.


Location: 33.7125734, -115.7644522

Look down the canyon for a first glimpse of the green, shaggy-topped fan palms. Before scrambling down to the oasis, turn right at 3-way to visit an overlook with bird’s-eye views of the palms.


Location: 33.712248, -115.762895

Take in the scene, then backtrack to Waypoint 11 and turn right. Descend 650 feet to Lost Palms Oasis.


Location: 33.7128166, -115.7627758

Lost Palms Oasis: This peaceful oasis contains the largest number of fan palms in the park. When you’re ready, turn around and follow the same route back to Cottonwood Spring.

Lost Palms Oasis

Location: 33.7128277, -115.7626712

Lost Palms Oasis Trailhead

Location: 33.7369162, -115.8106023

Cottonwood Spring was popular with Indians and prospectors, and it now lures birders.

Junction with Mastodon Peak Trail

Location: 33.7315851, -115.8011985

Mojave Yucca

Location: 33.735047, -115.8070135

A common sight on the hard-packed trail.

Cholla Cactus

Location: 33.7310944, -115.8003294

Look for these “fluffy” cacti along the trail just after the turn to Mastodon Peak.

Rock Pile and Well-Balanced Rock

Location: 33.7294348, -115.7953727

Rock Piles and Yucca

Location: 33.7220552, -115.7830667

Leaving Wash

Location: 33.719387, -115.7775199

Desert and Mountain View

Location: 33.7166384, -115.77097

First Glimpse of the Oasis

Location: 33.7125756, -115.7644174

Lost Palms Oasis Overlook

Location: 33.7122476, -115.7627785