#13 of 61 national parks in United States of America

Best Trails in Joshua Tree National Park

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Want to find the best trails in Joshua Tree National Park for an adventurous hike or a family trip? AllTrails has 123 great hiking trails, biking trails, running trails and more. Enjoy hand-curated trail maps, along with reviews and photos from nature lovers like you. Ready for your next hike or bike ride? Explore one of 32 easy hiking trails in Joshua Tree National Park that are great for the whole family. Looking for a more strenuous hike? We've got you covered, with trails ranging from 1 to 1,736 meters in elevation gain. Whatever you have planned for the day, you can find the perfect trail for your next trip to Joshua Tree National Park.
Description

Joshua Tree Wilderness was established in 1976 by The United States Congress and was later expanded by the California Desert Protection Act of 1994. Today the park is managed by the National Parks Service and covers a total of 594,502 acres of California desert The park extended north into the Pinto Mountains, northeast into the Coxcomb Mountains, southeast into the Eagle Mountains, and southwest into the Little San Bernardino Mountains. The Eastern areas of the park contain the drier Colorado Desert. Here you will see creosote bushes, ocotillo, and "jumping" cholla cactus. The Western half of the park contains the Mojave Desert, where you will see ample Joshua trees, one of the most iconic desert plants. Throughout the park you may also find palm tree laden oases, bighorn sheep, lizards, rattlesnakes, birds, coyotes, jackrabbits, burrowing owls, and more wildlife. You'll also see Southern California's iconic desert landscape and it's fascinating geology. Rock formations and granite monoliths are all around you, attracting rock climbers and hikers alike. Stargazing and camping opportunities abound. Joshua Tree National Park is 140 miles east of Los Angeles, 175 miles northeast of San Diego, and 215 miles southwest of Las Vegas. You can get there via Interstate 10 and Hwy 62 (Twentynine Palms Highway). The closest airport is in Palm Springs. There are three park entrance stations: 1) The west entrance is located five miles south of the junction of Highway 62 and Park Boulevard at Joshua Tree Village. 2) The north entrance is in Twentynine Palms, three miles south of the junction of Highway 62 and Utah Trail. 3) The south entrance at Cottonwood Spring, which lies 25 miles east of Indio, can be approached from the east or west, also via Interstate 10. Entering Joshua Tree National Park requires a pass ($20), which is to be paid at the park entrance. Accessibility: For accessible trails and facilities information for those with disabilities or using equipment such as strollers, please visit: https://www.nps.gov/jotr/planyourvisit/accessibility.htm

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Map of trails in Joshua Tree National Park
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Park information
Area:
319,598 hectares
Contact
760-367-5500
Helpful links
Top trails (123)
Ryan Mountain Trail
#1 - Ryan Mountain Trail
Joshua Tree National Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(3445)
Length: 4.8 km • Est. 1h 56m
Ryan Mountain is one of the most popular destinations in Joshua Tree! With awe inspiring rock formations and incredible panoramic views across the landscape — Ryan Mountain doesn’t disappoint. Visitors highly recommend hiking this route to experience an unforgettable sunset! There is a decent amount of elevation gain in the short 1.5 miles to the summit so make sure to bring an adequate amount of water. It gets incredibly hot here in the summer, so between June and September it's best to do this one either in the early morning or evening.Show more
Arch Rock Nature Trail
#2 - Arch Rock Nature Trail
Joshua Tree National Park
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(1996)
Length: 1.9 km • Est. 34m
Please park at Twin Tanks Backcountry Board/Arch Rock Nature Trail lot. Do not park at the White Tank Campground as this area is for campers only. Open all year, the Arch Rock Nature Trail features rock formations popular with the young crowd at Joshua Tree National Park. Accessibility: There do not appear to be any designated accessible spaces in the paved parking lot off of Pinto Basin Road at the west end of the trail. There do not appear to be any appropriate designated accessible parking spaces within 1.0 miles of the trailhead. The trail surface is a natural surface (sand, rocks, dirt). It is typically at least 4 feet wide. The whole trail is estimated to be in the mostly gentle (5% or less) grade category. All-terrain tires or motorized equipment may be needed for the surface type and grade. Show more
Barker Dam Nature Trail
#3 - Barker Dam Nature Trail
Joshua Tree National Park
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(2480)
Length: 2.1 km • Est. 34m
This is the perfect short, easy hike and as one of the milder hikes in Joshua Tree it is a great experience for the whole family. There is a small amount of rock scrambling but otherwise the hike has minimal elevation gain as it winds through the otherworldly Joshua Tree landscape highlighting the hidden liveliness of the Mojave Desert. Enjoy the iconic Joshua trees, creosote, and piñon pines as the trail passes by big granite rock formations and boulders where you might see some rock climbers in action. As a true desert environment there is usually no water in the dam, but the day after rains or after a particularly rainy season you might find water in the dam attracting more wildlife like bighorn sheep and a variety of birdlife. There are many interpretive signs along the trail that give historical information about the dam’s construction and use over time. Don’t miss the rock art site along the trail that provides a deep interaction with the human history of the desert (be sure to take in the rock art from a respectable distance so as not to disturb this historical artifact). Show more
Hidden Valley Nature Trail
#4 - Hidden Valley Nature Trail
Joshua Tree National Park
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(2027)
Length: 1.6 km • Est. 29m
Sample the best of Joshua Tree National Park on this short 1 mile nature trail loop in the heart of the park. If time or the fierce sun means you only have the chance for one short hike at Joshua Tree National Park, then Hidden Valley is a great choice. It is located just off of Park Boulevard. Encircled on all sides by the familiar golden rock outcroppings of the Joshua Tree park, Hidden Valley certainly lives up to is name. In addition to being a great sheltered location, this place is also rumored to have been well known to 19th century cattle rustlers who would hide their bovine hoards in here. The nature trail takes you on a circuitous route around some of the most prominent features of the park, including interpretive guides to the area's diversity, plant life and geology. The trail has an average width of three feet, and an average grade of 4% (max is 19%). Off the trail you will find some rock climbing sites.Show more
Lost Palms Oasis Trail
#5 - Lost Palms Oasis Trail
Joshua Tree National Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(1384)
Length: 11.6 km • Est. 3h 36m
Lost Palms Oasis Trail is located on the southern side of Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California. You will not find many Joshua Trees in the area due to the lower altitude, but you will find a spectacular palm tree grove within a desert oasis. This trail is also an incredible dark sky location. Getting down to the oasis requires a challenging off-route scramble. NPS suggests not hiking this trail between May and October due to the extreme heat. There are no bathrooms at the trailhead but the Cottonwood Visitor Center is just up the road. The Cottonwood Spring Wilderness Backpacking Board is located at the trailhead for backpackers to self register for overnight backpacking trips in the area.Show more
Skull Rock Nature Trail
#6 - Skull Rock Nature Trail
Joshua Tree National Park
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(1105)
Length: 2.7 km • Est. 48m
This loop contains 0.5 miles of walking along the paved campground road. Alternatively, visitors could just hike from Skull Rock, through the Jumbo Rocks area, and then turn around upon reaching the campground. This out-and-back route would be a mile roundtrip. The majority of this trail has a rocky dirt surface. It includes steep and narrow sections, and areas with stairs.Show more
Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail
#7 - Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail
Joshua Tree National Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(1926)
Length: 5.0 km • Est. 1h 41m
Explore rocky ridges, incredible views and a true desert oasis on this easily accessed hike. Just off of Twenty Nine Palms Highway, users will turn onto a small dirt road which leads to the trailhead. The trail climbs upward for a half-mile offering awesome views of the valley. The trail then goes up and down along several ridges, finally reaching a small, wet, oasis surrounded by palm trees. In the dry desert, it's incredible to see. Users will then turn around and go back the same way. This trail produces the most Search and Rescues and Medical Emergencies in the Park in the summer months. Avoid hiking between 10 am and 4 pm. Show more
Cholla Cactus Garden Nature Trail
#8 - Cholla Cactus Garden Nature Trail
Joshua Tree National Park
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(896)
Length: 0.3 km • Est. 5m
The Cholla Cactus Garden is located along the Pinto Basin Road near the transition zone between the Colorado and Mohave Deserts. This area provides the cholla with more water allowing this area to support a high number of cacti. The Cholla Cactus Garden includes a quarter mile trail to explore the area. Take care around these cacti, they are commonly referred to as "jumping" cholla as segments can break off and attach to people and animals as a way to reproduce. Accessibility: There is one designated accessible space in the small paved parking lot off of Pinto Basin Road at the north end of the trail. It is van-accessible with a striped access aisle. The trail surface is packed sand, rocks, and boardwalk (with edge barriers along the boardwalks), and typically at least 3 feet wide. The estimated grade is mostly gentle (5% or less). All-terrain tires or motorized equipment may be needed for the mostly unpaved surface type and unevenness. Show more
Split Rock Loop Trail
#9 - Split Rock Loop Trail
Joshua Tree National Park
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(1137)
Length: 3.1 km • Est. 56m
This loop featuring rock formations, wildlife, and desert landscapes can be done in either direction. Make sure to take the extra side trip to see Face Rock; and make sure to bring water since this is an exposed hike.Show more
Mastodon Peak Loop Trail
#10 - Mastodon Peak Loop Trail
Joshua Tree National Park
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(898)
Length: 4.2 km • Est. 1h 19m
This is a relatively easy hike. Lots of desert plants and flowers to see along with beautiful views. On clear days you can see the Salton Sea. There is an old mine to explore (only from outside as entrance has been sealed). The Cottonwood Spring Wilderness Backpacking Board is located at the trailhead for backpackers to self register for overnight backpacking trips in the area.Show more
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