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Joshua Tree park – don’t forget your food & water

Some say Joshua Tree park is one of the nicest ones in the USA. It’s a quick getaway for people from L.A. during breaks & weekends. This is something to keep in mind, since camp grounds are apparantly scarce.

Due to limited amount of time, I needed to take the freeway. If you have time and come from the south, a visit to Salton Sea &  e.g. Salvation Mountain (landmark from ‘Into the Wild’ are an interesting visit.

You will be driving near big farms and huge windmill parks. Houses are often not near the street, that’s why the mail boxes are aligned near the road. You will see the typical ‘leverages’ too (wich are high when you have mail)

Typical mail boxes

Typical mail boxes

When entering the park (from the west), you’ll find a guardpost to get your permit. At 6pm, it was not manned and no fees had to be paid (it states 20 USD / vehicle + 5 USD / person). A park permit is valid for several days. I paid 15 USD when existing the park (around 1pm) on the north side.

Camping Hidden Valley is very unique with all it’s boulders, which makes it an attractive destination for rock climbers!  Jumbo Rock is similar.

When entering the camping grounds, you can get a camping spot by filling in a paper from the ‘box’ and fill in the details such as dates that you attach to the camping spot (so people can see it’s occupied). It is full self-service. On most campsites, for 1 day you pay 10 USD. You can stay maximum 1 week at the same spot.

Example campground

Example campground

Arriving very late (7pm) I was out of luck, but a friendly family offered to park my car next to theirs :). They had the same issue in the past and were very happy to return the favor.

Picture time! The camping is perfectly located for great pictures with all the rocks & boulders.

That night ‘unfortunatly’ it was full moon, making it difficult to make good pictures of the stars.

Suddenly I realized I did not buy any food in the rush for sunset. The cookies given by David his mom from San Diego came in handy as dinner & breakfast 🙂

I got up to see the sunrise, the boulders are very easy to climb and have an amazing sunrise view!

Getting up early is adviced as it can get very hot, making a walk more comfortable. Always bring enough water! During the hikes, I was hoping to find some rattle snakes (they emerge from hibernation in March or April), normally they are most active during early morning and late afternoon. A good spot for rattle snakes is the ‘rattle canyon’ walk near Indian Cove, note no real trail exists and you just choose where you go.

Other nice walk I did on the way out was Wonderland of Rocks, where I also just ‘invented’ a trail across the rocks. Just make sure you got good referrals to landmarks such as typical mountain peaks (on a good day). On the way you’ll find an old pink ruin. Another landmark on the way is ‘the skull’, just besides the road.

The Skull

The Skull

Some specific advice when hiking here & desserts:

  • Lookout where you put your feet & hands, especially when climbing rocks
  • Don’t run and allow snakes to get away
  • Wear closed shoes and loose pants

When you drive to Vegas, avoid the route 15 since it is just boring. In the beginning drive through amboy and the Mohaviv reserve. You will even pass a small strip of route 66 🙂

In the image below, you can navigate in 360 degrees!


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