3 Iconic Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park

Copy of Hiking Highlight

Located about 2.5 hours from Los Angeles, Joshua Tree National Park is accessible as a day trip or a great stop during a long road trip of Southern California. It is also a hot-spot for advertisers and Instagrammers: many commercials have been filmed here, and the stark desert landscape can be found in numerous photo shoot backdrops. With it’s crazy-looking trees, interesting rock formations and expansive blue skies, it is a landscape that cannot be duplicated elsewhere.

Hiking is a popular activity in Joshua Tree and there are many opportunities – from nature walks to strenuous treks. Make sure to be prepared with a ton of water as the desert conditions are extremely dehydrating. The following hikes are in order from the West Entrance Station and offer a good variety if you have limited time.

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What Makes Joshua Tree National Park so Unique?

One of the national parks long on my list was Joshua Tree National Park. But I didn’t know too much about it except for its desert setting and the Dr. Suess-like trees that frequently show up in photographs. From what I could tell during preliminary research, the park isn’t known for its sweeping vistas akin to Yosemite, Zion and Grand Canyon. It obviously doesn’t host common national park features like lakes, waterfalls and rivers. I was skeptical.

We decided to see for ourselves during a recent spring break trip. We spent two full days in the park as a stopover between Death Valley and the Channel Islands. Our visit was in April: a little too early for wildflower blooms (boo), a little too early for rattlesnake appearances (yay), late enough for the daytime temps to reach Hot AF! Here are the features that make this park unique and worth your time. Now that I’m in the know.

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Road Trip: Death Valley, Joshua Tree and Channel Islands National Parks

A 9-day/600-mile road trip covering National Parks of Southern California – including Death Valley, Joshua Tree and the Channel Islands. Travelers included our family with 3 kids ages 9-15. Enjoyed hiking over sand dunes, watching Joshua Tree sunsets, and sea-kayaking. Stayed in a variety of accommodations. Month of travel: April.

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Road Trip: National Parks of Utah and Arizona

An 11-day/1600-mile road trip covering National Parks of Utah and Arizona – including Zion, Bryce, Arches and the Grand Canyon. Travelers included our family with 3 kids ages 6-13. Enjoyed hiking among and above hoodoos, canyons and arches. Stayed in a variety of accommodations. Month of travel: April.

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Road Trip: South Dakota and Wyoming

An 8-day road trip from Saint Paul, MN to the Black Hills of South Dakota via Badlands National Park. Detour to Devil’s Tower in Wyoming on the way home. Travelers included 2 families of 5, with kids aged 4-10 years old. Lots of outdoor adventure and a variety of accommodations from camping to VRBO. Month of travel: July.

Companion post to Black Hills Gold

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Road Trip: Pacific Northwest

A 9-day city tour/road trip covering Vancouver, Seattle + Bainbridge Island and Portland. Travelers included our family with 3 kids ages 6-12. Stayed in mostly AirBnB accommodations. Month of travel: July.

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