There’s no better way to immerse yourself in Joshua Tree National Park than camping. You can enjoy stunning sunsets and starry skies while surrounded by out-of-this-world landscapes. Whether you enjoy primitive camping or the luxuries of a full-scale RV park, this is the perfect place to enjoy the great outdoors and make unforgettable memories.
Today, we’ll share some of the best camping spots in and around Joshua Tree. So pack your bags, and let’s head out to the desert to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of life.
Let’s get started!
What Is Joshua Tree National Park?
Joshua Tree National Park is in Southern California and has over 790,000 acres. The park has a reputation for its iconic Joshua trees, which dot the landscape and look like Dr. Seuss inspired them.
Interestingly, Joshua Tree National Park was going to be called Desert Plants National Park. While maybe not as “fun” of a name, we learned during our time there that the latter would have been a very fitting name, as there are so many unique and interesting desert plants there! But it was the widely publicized and popular U2 album “Joshua Tree” that helped decide the park’s name.
Aside from the unique trees, the park is also home to various wildlife. Visitors often spot bighorn sheep, coyotes, and rattlesnakes while visiting the park. However, there are more than trees and wildlife that attract over three million visitors yearly.
The park offers numerous hiking trails, from easy nature walks to challenging backcountry treks. In addition, the park is a rock climber’s paradise as it provides more than 8,000 climbing routes. With so much to offer, you’ll want to spend a few days here.
Is Camping Allowed in Joshua Tree National Park?
Camping is one of the most popular activities in Joshua Tree National Park. There are more than 500 campsites within the park. Whether you bring an RV or pack a tent, many options are available. Additionally, there are some primitive and backcountry camping experiences.
Five established campgrounds require reservations, and three first-come, first-served campgrounds. Costs for camping in the park range from $15 to $25 per night. While the amenities and luxuries may vary, all offer incredible views and can provide the opportunity to make priceless memories.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking for a little luxury on your Joshua Tree adventure, use these tips for Avoiding Disappointment On Your Joshua Tree Glamping Trip.
10 Best Spots for Amazing Joshua Tree National Park Camping
Camping is one of the best ways to experience Joshua Tree National Park. Luckily, there are some incredible options in the park and the surrounding area. Let’s look at 10 of the best spots you should consider for your trip.
1. Hidden Valley Campground
This campground is at 74485 National Park Dr, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277.
Hidden Valley Campground is a year-round campground offering 44 first-come, first-served campsites. There are no electric or water hookups; the only restroom facilities are vault toilets. The maximum length for RVs is a combined length of 24 feet. The campground has a max stay of 14 days and sits at an elevation of approximately 4,100 feet.
Hidden Valley Campground is dry camping, so there are no power, water, or connections. There are vault toilets for restrooms, and each site has a fire ring and picnic table. The campground provides year-round trash and recycling services.
Many sites provide epic views of sunrises and sunsets. While there may not be cell signals or many amenities, you can’t beat the $15 price tag. However, try to arrive in the middle of the week, especially if you plan to stay during weekends or holidays. Sites typically fill up by Friday every weekend during the peak season.
2. White Tank Campground
This location is at 2 White Tank Campground Rd, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277.
White Tank Campground is another one of the first-come, first-served campgrounds. There are 15 total sites, but none provide electrical or water connections. The combined maximum length in this campground is 25 feet. The campground offers some great walking and hiking opportunities. There are plenty of rock formations, and it’s only a short hike to Arch Rock and Heart Rock from the campground.
Camping in White Tank Campground means going without most amenities. There’s no running water; the only restroom facilities are vault toilets.
If you’re a fan of rustic camping experiences, this is as good as it gets. The site views are incredible, and there are several great hiking opportunities. You can camp among the enormous rock formations and enjoy privacy during your stay.
3. Belle Campground
This campground is at Twentynine Palms, CA, 92277. Belle Campground is a small, first-come, first-served campground with 18 sites. If you’re hoping to enjoy night skies, this is the place to camp. It is a seasonal campground that usually closes from May 31 to September 4. It fills up fast during the peak camping season, so ensure you have a backup plan. The max combined length for RVs in this campground is 35 feet. Check with the camp management to confirm the daily time restrictions on generator use.
Camping at Belle Campground is dry camping, so ensure you are self-sufficient. If you plan to camp in an RV or other vehicle, you’ll want to fill up ahead of time as there is no water to fill your tanks. You can use one of the pit toilets throughout the campground for restroom facilities.
Bell Campground is near the center of Joshua Tree National Park, making it convenient to access and explore almost everything. Arch Rock is only a short hike away, and many campsites offer much privacy in the boulders. Sites are $15 per night, and those with the senior pass can enjoy 50% off savings.
4. Jumbo Rocks Campground
This campground is also in Twentynine Palms, CA 92277. Jumbo Rocks Campground offers 124 individual and family campsites. This year-round campground will likely require you to make a reservation if you plan to camp anytime from September to May. It has a central location and offers some of the best views of rock formations of any of the campgrounds in the park. As with most campgrounds here, there are length restrictions regarding RVs and trailers. The max RV length is 35 feet, and the max trailer length is 20 feet. One campsite (#84) is approximately 40 feet long, but it typically goes very quickly.
You should prepare for dry camping, as there is no potable water, dump station, or electricity in the campground. Each site has a fire ring, picnic table, and access to several hiking trails.
For only $20 per night, you can easily access almost everything in the park. Since there’s no cell service, you’ll likely have no trouble disconnecting from the outside world and enjoying the beauty of this park. It’s the perfect spot to make your base camp for almost any attraction in the national park.
5. Ryan Campground
Ryan Campground is also in Twentynine Palms, CA, and has 31 campsites that require a reservation. In addition, there are four designated equestrian sites and three bicycle sites. The campground allows RVs but has a maximum of 35 feet. It’s a comfortable and cozy place to camp while you explore the park.
This is a dry camping experience, so amenities are relatively limited. Restroom facilities are vault toilets, so ensure you plan accordingly. Recycle and trash services operate year-round. Each site has a fire ring and picnic table to help maximize your experience.
This is a small and cozy campground offering some incredible views. Despite being small, the sites here are relatively spacious and provide plenty of room to avoid feeling like you’re on top of your neighbors. Since the campground sits at 4,300 feet, temperatures can be a bit cooler than in lower portions of the park.
6. Indian Cove Campground
Sitting at 68917 Indian Cove Cir, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277, Indian Cove Campground is at 3,200 feet elevation and offers 101 campsites. 13 are large group campsites. This campground sits where Indian Cove Road dead-ends, which makes it incredibly secluded and quiet. The campground experiences a partial summer closure yearly from approximately June 1 through September 4. During the closure, sites 1 through 39 remain open.
This campground offers a somewhat rustic experience. Aside from the picnic table and fire ring, there’s not much else for each site. Restroom facilities require guests to use a vault toilet. The only potable water available is at the ranger station, approximately two miles from the campground.
For approximately $20 (usually $10 with the national park pass discount), you can access some of the best hiking and views you’ll ever experience. While it may not offer fancy amenities or luxuries, it’s a great place to camp in Joshua Tree National Park. With practically no light pollution, you can see more stars than you ever thought was possible.
7. Cottonwood Campground
At Cottonwood Oasis Rd, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277, Cottonwood Campground sits at 3,000 feet in elevation and offers 62 campsites. Unfortunately, it requires a reservation from September through May. From approximately June 1 through September 4, a partial summer closure occurs. Typically, Loop B will close, and Loop A will remain open. However, closures and dates can change from one year to the next. The campground sits near the Cottonwood Visitor Center, so stop in and see the exhibits and meet a ranger.
This is one of the best options to stay in the park as it offers potable water, flush toilets, tables, fire grates, and a dump station. However, there are no electrical connections, so plan accordingly.
Sites in Cottonwood Campground come with a premium $25 price tag for the national park. While this campground may not offer electricity, it provides many conveniences to make it easy to stay clean and fresh during your stay. You’ll be able to freshen up after a long day of hiking and other adventures in Joshua Tree National Park.
8. Black Rock Campground
At 9800 Black Rock Canyon Rd, Yucca Valley, CA 92284, Black Rock Campground is a massive campground in the northwest section of the park offering 99 campsites. Several shopping facilities are approximately five miles from the campground in Yucca Valley. Sites here are very spacious and can accommodate tents and RVs. The max length for these sites is 35 feet, so know your length and study the map before arriving.
Black Rock Campground offers potable water, flush toilets, tables, fire grates, and a dump station for guests. A day-use picnic area offers plenty of room to spread out and enjoy a meal with friends and family.
This is a fantastic option for those who want to spend a few days in the park but want to be close to the conveniences. This is also one of the few areas of the park where people report having cell service with major carriers like AT&T and Verizon. For $25, it’s a steal.
9. Palm Springs-Joshua Tree KOA
At 70405 Dillon Rd, Desert Hot Springs, CA 92241, the Palm Springs-Joshua Tree KOA offers everything you expect from a KOA or any other full-service campground. You’ll find 50 and 30-amp service to run your air conditioner to stay cool. There are almost 300 sites spacious enough to accommodate rigs of all shapes and sizes. It’s a 40-50 minute drive to the heart of Joshua Tree National Park. However, the views during the drive make the time pass quickly.
Like most KOA locations, the Palm Springs-Joshua Tree location has amenities. Amenities range from full hookups at your site to mini golf, a playground, and a large outdoor swimming pool. You can stay cool and comfortable while exploring the area. In addition, the park is pet-friendly and offers a dog run.
Palm Springs-Joshua Tree KOA received Campendium’s “Campers Choice” award in 2020, so you know they’re doing something right. Staying here can ensure you’ll have a place to come home and shower at the end of the day.
10. Sky Valley Resort
This resort is at 74711 Dillon Rd, Desert Hot Springs, CA 92241. Sky Valley Resort is the place to stay if you enjoy luxury and comfort. Their roomy sites can accommodate almost any rig. They offer various locations to deliver the experience you need during your stay. They provide luxury sites with premier landscaping and comfortable outdoor furniture, as well as standard RV sites.
Sky Valley Resort offers many amenities, including spacious patio pads, full hookups, cable TV, and WiFi. There are mineral pools, two clubhouses, athletic courts, and a fitness center to work out.
Staying at Sky Valley Resort can be an experience that makes it easy to explore one of the unique national parks in the country. Prices range from $50 to $78, depending on the season and site you select. There’s so much to see and do here that you won’t have to leave the campground if you don’t want to.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Joshua Tree National Park?
While Joshua Tree National Park is open year-round, some times are better. The best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park is spring (March to May) or fall (September to November). Temperatures are typically mild, and crowds tend to be smaller. This can allow you to explore the park by driving, hiking, or climbing.
Summer may mean a break from school, but June through August can be miserable in the park. Temperatures typically exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. This can make spending extended periods outdoors uncomfortable and dangerous. However, the summer nights can be cooler and provide some of the best stargazing opportunities.
Winter in the park is relatively mild as the daytime temperatures generally are in the 50s and 60s. Unfortunately, temperatures can drop fast once the sun goes down. Below-freezing temperatures are somewhat typical at night. However, it’s an opportunity to experience the park with fewer people, and you can enjoy views of snow-capped mountains.
Exploring Joshua Tree National Park
We personally went on several hikes while in Joshua Tree National Park and saw so much plant life and cool rock formations. It was a long drive from the South end of the park to the North end, and we definitely didn’t see everything we wanted to. However, these were some of our favorite things:
The cholla cactus (choy-yah) has a few nicknames: jumping cactus or teddy bear. This is because of its nature of dropping little arms off of its main trunk that are so prickly that they stick to everything: a shoe, a tire, an animal. They then travel with it for a good while before finding a new home to grow from.
The Cholla Garden is an awesome place because of the sheer number of cholla cacti. But be careful where you step and what you brush up against. Also, beware of the bees in the summertime. We were told by the ranger that the bees are attracted to the AC water drips under cars that are left on to stay cool in the parking lot. So you might pull into a spot inhabited by bees that are angry for the disturbance of your car over their watering hole.
These cactuses do not “reproduce”. Rather, they clone themselves. In fact, even though they do bloom flowers in the spring, they are mostly sterile.
This plant is fascinating. While it may appear boring and plain at first glance, just wait. This plant is also known as “the governor” plant because it actually creates an herbicide that it releases around its base to kill off other plants in competition for water.
When it rains, the plant opens its leaves and releases a creosote-like smell. This helps the plant absorb more moisture. It clones itself by growing roots out in multiple directions, which then emerge from the ground as new plants, creating a web of creosote bushes throughout the valley floor.
They have found that entire regions of creosote bushes are, in fact, the very same plant! Not only are they huge, but they are old – one date estimation (because it is very difficult to find the “original” plant to date) places a valley of the same creosote bush at over 12,000 years old! That is the oldest living plant discovered and documented!
This valley could be full of the same creosote bush.
This tall, spiky, spindly plant grows tall. When it blooms, brilliant orange pops from its tips, and we often see hummingbirds feeding on them. Green leaves also cover the stalks that branch out in crazy directions and conceal the dangerous thorns. We swear, everything in the desert is armed and dangerous.
Then, of course, there is the Joshua Tree. This unique tree has an almost tropical appearance, with pointed green leaves that burst out in every direction, then seem to lay flat in brown down the truck. They can have many arms that reach out in crazy directions. A group of Mormon settlers named the tree after a biblical story where Joshua reaches his arms up to the sky in prayer.
Two Deserts Converge
One of the reasons there is so much plant diversity in this park is that it includes two completely separate deserts. The higher and cooler Mojave Desert is the special habitat of Yucca brevifolia, the Joshua tree for which the park is named. Below 3,000 feet, the Colorado Desert encompasses the eastern part of the park and features habitats of Creosote bush scrub, Ocotillo, and mixed scrub, including Cholla cactus.
Another thing Joshua Tree is known for is its rocks! It is a rock climbing mecca, and we saw hundreds of climbers all over the park. The formations used to be a solid hill of rock, but over time the water has eroded away edges, leaving gaps between sections of rock that eventually lean together and form interesting stacks of rocks. The rock is rough, and you need to be careful of scraping yourself or falling on the rock, as it will take some skin with it.
Experience the Best Joshua Tree National Park and Its Camping
Joshua Tree National Park is a remarkable destination offering some of the most unique and stunning natural landscapes in the United States. Camping in the park allows you to maximize your time in the beauty of the desert and enjoy all that the park offers.
Whether you’re an experienced camper or a first-timer, there are many campgrounds and campsites. No matter where you stay, don’t miss out on an unforgettable camping experience that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.
Will you go to Joshua Tree National Park on your next trip? Tell us in the comments!
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