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Best Hikes in Joshua Tree for All Levels


Joshua Tree National Park is located in southeastern California, near Palm Springs. It’s quickly becoming one of the most visited national parks in the United States, totaling 3 million visitors in 2019. It has something for everyone. Whether you’re a hiker, rock climber, photographer, young or old, you’ll find plenty of things to do for an adventurous time.

When to Visit

Joshua Tree can be brutally hot in the summer months. The best time to visit is fall through early Spring. Always check current conditions before you visit.

Tips

You will definitely want to plan ahead to visit the most popular spots early in the day. Parking space can be very limited at the trailheads. If you’re planning to camp, use Recreation.gov to reserve your campsite. There are numerous lodging options (airbnb, hotels, BLM, private campgrounds) nearby as well.

Best Joshua Tree Hikes for Beginners 

Cholla Cactus Garden

Cholla Cactus GardenPhoto by @adventure.planner

Cholla Cactus Garden is one of the most unique gardens you’ll visit. It’s located near the park’s north entrance and features a large collection of cholla cacti. This is an easy 0.25-mile walk.

Hidden Valley

Hidden ValleyPhoto by @stephie_109

Hidden Valley is an easy 1-mile loop walk through Joshua Tree’s unique boulders and rock formations. Its interpretive signs introduce you to the park’s flora and fauna.

Barker Dam

Barker DamPhoto by @adventure.planner

Barker Dam is an easy 1.5-mile loop hike through some amazing rock formations. The water reservoir provides an important resource for the park’s wildlife.

Lost Horse Mine

Lost Horse MinePhoto by @kar_wash_dawsh

Lost Horse Mine is a 4-mile out and back hike to a well preserved mine and mill.

Best Joshua Tree Hikes for Intermediate & Experienced Hikers

Lost Palms Oasis

Lost Palms Oasis Photo by @adventure.planner

Lost Palms Oasis is a 7-mile hike to an oasis featuring the highest concentration of California Fan Palms in the park.

Willow Hole

Willow HolePhoto by @adventure.planner

Willow Hole is a 7-mile roundtrip hike to a surprise oasis and seasonal pools. x

Ryan Mountain

Ryan MountainPhoto by @adventure.planner

Ryan Mountain is a moderately strenuous 3-mile hike to the 5,458’ summit, with views of Queen, Lost Horse and Pleasant valleys.

Quail Mountain 

Quail Mountain TrailPhoto by Geoff Pasley via AllTrails

Quail Mountain is a strenuous, mostly off trail 13-mile hike to the highest peak (5820’) in the park. 

Best Joshua Tree Hike for Backpackers

California Riding and Hiking Trail

California Riding and Hiking TrailPhoto by @adventure.planner

Perhaps the best way to visit Joshua Trees is by thru-hiking the California Riding and Hiking Trail. It is a 37-mile thru hike that runs from the Black Rock Canyon trailhead in the east and ends at the north entrance. Along the trail you’ll have sweeping views of the high desert, rock formations and the iconic Joshua trees. 

Do you have a favorite Joshua Tree hike not covered above? Let us know in the comments below!

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 Adventure Planner - daily planner for hikers

Adventure Planner is the only planner designed for hikers, backpackers, and outdoor / camping enthusiasts. If you dream about hiking and spending time in the great outdoors while sitting in front of a desk, this planner is for you! 

We designed this planner to help us plan for trips throughout the year, keep us on track for health & fitness goals, challenge ourselves to schedule at least one adventure every month, and stay connected to nature in our day to day life.

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