A travel guide to Joshua Tree National Park, ideal for first time visitors who only have one day to spend in the park.
Recently I traveled to Palm Springs for my wellness travel series, What to Eat & How to Burn it Off. As it likely goes without saying, no visit to Palm Springs is complete without a trip to Joshua Tree National Park.
When I was researching my visit to Joshua Tree, I found the resources available online to be a bit overwhelming so I wanted to put together a quick and easy guide to visiting the park if you only have one day to spend. Afterall, I wanted to see as much as possible in what limited time I had in Joshua Tree which meant certain attractions that require you to hike 4 hours each way just to get there were off the table.
What makes Joshua Tree so very special is the fact that it is two distinct desert ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado. that have come together to form Joshua Tree National Park. As a result, one area of Joshua Tree looks nothing like the other so if you only have one day to visit and it’s your very first time visiting, you likely want to enter from the northern side which is most famous for the quintessential Joshua Trees.
Upon entering the park, head first to the Hidden Valley Nature Trail. The short 1 mile loop is located near Twenty-nine Palms, California. Ideal for all skill levels, it features beautiful wild flowers and a relatively flat terrain. The trail is best used from March until October.
Next, drive two miles up the road to Barker Dam Nature Trail. This brief 1.3 mile loop trail features a beautiful lake that is ideal for taking a quick break and busting out your camera.
From there, head to Skull Rock, about an 18 minute drive east of Barker Dam. The result of rock erosion and rain accumulation, over time two hollowed-out eye sockets formed and the rock began to resemble a skull. There is also a 1.8 mile hiking trail that starts at the skull.
Located 6 miles southeast of Skull Rock is Arch Rock Trail. Pro Tip: Cell service is non-existent in the park which means Google Maps does not work. We learned this the hard way and as a result never made it to Arch Rock. Be sure to print off directions before you enter the park!
For a beautiful end to your day in Joshua Tree, try to time it out so that you can experience sunset at Keys View. Overlooking the Little San Bernardino Mountains, Keys View provides panoramic vistas of the Coachella Valley. A breathtaking way to end your day in Joshua Tree!
What are your favorite hikes and sites in Joshua Tree? This was my first visit but it definitely won’t be my last! Be sure to leave a comment and let me know what I should check out next time.
Your hiking shoes are waiting.
Disclosure: Greater Palm Springs coordinated my hotel accommodations, meals and activities during my stay. Photography by Alejandro Photography. I was not compensated to write this post. All thoughts are my own.
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