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planning a trip to joshua tree

Living in Southern California means we have access to a lot of beautiful scenery and fun adventures. One of the easiest road trips to a location where there is a lot to explore is none other than a trip to Joshua Tree! 


Joshua Tree National Park is considered unusual due to being where two distinct desert ecosystems meet: the Mojave and the Colorado, providing even more scenic plants and terrain to explore, including Joshua trees themselves. Joshua trees are spiny, tree-like plants that are native to the Mojave Desert. Although they look somewhat like palm trees, they are Yuccas, members of the asparagus family and close relatives of Agave, the plant used to make tequila. These unusual trees create unique scenery and an other-worldly experience for all visitors. 


Planning Your Trip 

When you are planning your trip, one of the first things to decide is if you’re going to enjoy one of the many activities outside of the park, inside of the park, or a little of both!  


if you’re planning to go into the park, make sure you purchase your pass ahead of time. If you are a veteran, senior citizen, disabled, have a national park pass, or are visiting on you won’t need to purchase one. Otherwise, buy an annual pass for the park for around $55, or a private vehicle, motorcycle, or individual pass for a one-time visit.  


If you don’t have time for a long hike, there are several scenic view stops, short walks and nature trails that will still allow any explorer to enjoy the park and soak in the desert landscape. When hiking, always remember to tell someone where you are going, take a map, load up on water and snacks, and wear sunscreen! 



If you’re ready to camp under the stars, it is highly recommended to make an advance reservation for one of the 500 campsites available in the park. Reservations start booking up to six months in advance, although there is usually more day-of availability for weekday and non-holiday travel dates. 


One of the newest, coolest spaces in Joshua Tree is AutoCamp, where you can rent an airstream or stay in a suite, including accessible suites! The experience includes a Quonset Hut-inspired clubhouse, plunge pool, indoor and outdoor dining, and much more. 


If you’re looking for a full home rental, look no further than Hi Desert Dwellings. The prices often preferable than other home rental websites, and there are a wide variety of homes from rustic to luxurious. 


Lastly, for a unique and historical stay, look no farther than Pioneertown! Built by Roy Rogers in 1946 as Old Western movie star lodging while they were filming on location, the hotel has remained a mainstay with 19 guest rooms and a saloon.  


Where to eat in Joshua Tree 

Pioneertown is home to the Red Dog Saloon, with a plethora of breakfast, lunch and dinner tacos and craft cocktails to suit any appetite. 


Craving something else but still want to soak in some history? No road trip to Joshua Tree is complete without a stop at Pappy and Harriets, a long-standing tradition for all travelers. 


For healthier fare or a quick bite to go on the way home from your trip, The Natural Sisters Café is the place to go. 


There is much more to see, do and explore in Joshua Tree. This is just a little taste of everything that awaits, no matter what your interest. The most important thing is to enjoy the journey in your car as much as the destination! 

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