USA Travel

Top 6 reasons to put Joshua Tree National Park on your United States bucket list

Tim Gillespie
January 16, 2024

A uniquely beautiful wilderness that has something for everyone, a visit through Joshua Tree National Park is an experience you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Forests of giants branching yuccas known as Joshua trees give this park its namesake, though these are not the only reason over a million people visit each year.

Here are six reasons why Joshua Tree National Park should be bumped up to the top of your United States bucket list.

1. A mystical night sky

One of the best reasons to stay at a campsite while visiting the park is so you can lie down at night and take in a surreal view of the stars. With little light pollution, you may even have a chance to see shooting stars. For the best views of the Milky Way, be sure to visit during the summer months.

Milky Way hovering over the famous Arch Rock

2. A hiker’s paradise

What’s unique about this park is that you can hike just about anywhere. There are very few restrictions and you are not required to hike on the trails. Just pick a direction or a boulder to scale, and let the explorer in you take over. There are, of course, dozens of marked trails to help you along the way.  Barker Dam is an easy hike located in a part of the park known as the Wonderland of Rocks. Or ascend the summit of the 5,456-ft Ryan Mountain to take in incredible views of the surrounding desert landscape. Whichever hike you choose, be sure to bring plenty of water.

3. Carpets of wildflowers

Springtime is the ideal season to view these blooms at their fullest, and given the right conditions, the desert floor will burst into a myriad of colors, unlike nothing you’ve seen before. Explore the region of Pinto Basin and take a short hike through the Cholla Cactus Garden Nature Trail for a great place to check out many types of cactus.

4. A wonderland for climbing

The natural elements make this park a must-visit destination for climbers of all levels. Even if you are not an experienced climber, you’ll still find adventures in scrambling up and down all the rock formations. Hidden Valley is a popular area to test your bouldering skills. It is also home to one of the best campgrounds in the park. Climbers will also have lots of fun at the Hall of Horrors, another popular destination.

Exploring the boulder fields in Joshua Tree National Park

5. Picture perfect sunsets and sunrises

Be sure to bring your camera when visiting Joshua Tree National Park because the skies will not disappoint during the golden hours. Desert landscapes saturated in red, silhouetted cactus backed by multicolored skies, you won’t even need to use your Instagram filter! Though the sunsets are beautiful throughout most of the park, one of the best places to watch the setting or rising sun is at Keys View.

Catching the sunset

6. Must visit destinations inside the park

You may not have a lot of time to explore every corner of this amazing park, so if you are limited with time, be sure to check these iconic spots out. 

  • Arch Rock Trail, which starts from the White Tank Campground, is a short hike to a natural arch within the granite formations. You can climb and scramble all over this rock. 
  • Skull Rock is what that name implies, a rock formation that appears to look like a skull. Easy access makes it a popular destination that can be viewed from the road as well. 
  • Driving the park’s loop road is a beautiful, scenic journey that will take you through unique rock formations and Joshua Tree forests, with plenty of pull-off spots to take photos.
Scenic views along the park’s loop road

Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most distinctive parks in the United States and should be on everyone’s bucket list. When visiting this park, take your time to walk among the trees that are said to be the inspiration for both Dr. Suess’s The Lorax and one of U2’s most famous albums. This beloved natural gem offers visitors stunning vistas, rewarding hikes, and surprises around every corner.
If you are looking for like-minded individuals to explore this park with, then join Under30Experiences and check out Palm Springs and Coachella Valley as well.

Thinking about camping during your visit to Joshua Tree National Park, read our Camping Tips article.

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Tim Gillespie
Tim is U30X's Thailand Manager & Community Builder, and has been living, traveling and accumulating experiences in SE Asia since 2009. He loves being in the outdoors, immersing himself in local cultures, and tasting exotic foods.


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