What To Do in Joshua Tree in Winter – The Crowded Planet

Welcome to a different publish from our National Parks in Winter sequence! This visitor publish about Joshua Tree in Winter is by Mimi McFadden from The Atlas Heart, a California journey web site that helps individuals discover the very best of the Golden State via native perception, street journey itineraries, and bucket record guides. 

The first time I visited Joshua Tree National Park in my mid-20s, I used to be blown away by the distinctive panorama, dusty hikes, and stargazing alternatives on chilly nights in the desert. It wasn’t like wherever I’d been earlier than and I knew it might find yourself being a particular place to return again to again and again. 

Today, Joshua Tree is certainly one of my favorite locations in California (of which, sure, there’s an exhaustive list) – and undoubtedly my favorite nationwide park for a winter go to. 

When you go to Joshua Tree for the primary time, you’ll discover its idiosyncratic bushes that give the park its identify. They appear alien and unfamiliar with their sharp spines and bulbous growths, twining up above your head, reaching for the solar.

They’re international and but by some means, surrounded by them in the cool, starlit sky, one can’t assist however really feel related to one thing deeper than what you would possibly discover in close by Southern California cities.

And being situated in the California desert, top-of-the-line instances to go to Joshua Tree is in the winter. The winter months are when daytime temperatures are at their mildest, which is ideal for lengthy mountain climbing days.

In normal, the park is a fashionable winter vacation spot because it’s nonetheless hotter than many of the remainder of the US in the course of the center of winter, not less than in the course of the day. 

Come for the gorgeous hikes, the unbeatable stargazing, and the temperate climate to expertise the very best elements of this unequaled nationwide park in California. This is what it is advisable to know to go to Joshua Tree in winter.  

Cholla cacti at joshua tree national parkCholla cacti at joshua tree national park
Most of the instances, Joshua Tree in winter is tremendous sunny!

Things To Know About Joshua Tree in Winter

Joshua Tree Winter Weather

Winter is the excellent time to go to Joshua Tree. The daytime temperatures can fluctuate round 60°F-plus levels (approx 15-20°C), which is good for mountain climbing via unshaded trails. And the climate is mostly sunny and clear.

The solely factor to maintain in thoughts is that the desert is all about extremes. So despite the fact that it would really feel heat in the course of the day, it will get very chilly at night time (and that is particularly the case in winter). 

To offer you an thought, nighttime temperatures in the winter can get under freezing, so ensure you pack appropriately and costume warmly if you happen to’re tenting on the park in winter.

On uncommon events, there might be some climate anomalies related to Joshua Tree in winter. Because the park is situated in the excessive desert, there’s generally hail and even snow in the winter. This is uncommon but it surely’s at all times good to test situations earlier than you head to the park for the reason that climate in the desert can change shortly. 

Does It Ever Snow in Joshua Tree?

This brings us to our subsequent level. It’s humorous to speak a couple of desert’s “wet season,” however if Joshua Tree has one, it’s in winter. 

Average December precipitation measures at round half an inch (not bad for a desert), and this generally contains snow, however solely at increased elevations.

Joshua treesJoshua trees
Iconic Joshua Tree landscapes

How To Get To Joshua Tree

Palm Springs, California is host to the closest airport to Joshua Tree, however many cities are inside driving distance, together with Phoenix, Las Vegas, and, in fact, San Diego and LA.

Relying on GPS navigation to get you into Joshua Tree National Park in winter is just not at all times the neatest. It will generally take you thru again roads which might be lined in deep sand and inconceivable to navigate, even with 4WD. 

To maintain it easy, Interstate 10 and California State Highway 62 are the roads you’ll want to recollect to get to the park. These two roads result in the park’s three entrance stations.

The West Entrance is simply south of Joshua Tree Village, on Highway 62. The South Entrance is close to Cottonwood Spring. You can entry it from Interstate 10 and it’s about 25 miles east of Indio, CA. The North Entrance is simply a few miles to the south, the place Highway 62 meets the Utah path.

Note: Paper maps are your buddy when driving to Joshua Tree and across the California desert area in normal. Not solely are they at all times totally charged, however paper maps are additionally a particularly helpful strategy to get round nationwide parks as a result of the roads proven on these maps are totally purposeful, in contrast to GPS that frequently goes unmonitored in phrases of accessible routes.

If you don’t wish to do paper maps, you must on the very least pre-obtain your route by way of Google Maps (utilizing the above highways). 

Cottonwood visitor center sign, near los palms oasis trailCottonwood visitor center sign, near los palms oasis trail
Driving is one of the simplest ways to get round Joshua Tree in winter!

Getting Around Joshua Tree in Winter

Public transport to Joshua Tree is proscribed and there are not any public shuttles that take guests round like another nationwide parks, so that you’ll want a automotive to get round.

Though it would snow in increased elevations in winter, the principle entry roads are just about at all times secure to drive on yr-spherical. 

Is Joshua Tree Busy in Winter?

Winter is likely one of the busiest seasons in Joshua Tree. This is as a result of winter temperatures don’t get very low on the park in the course of the day. So everybody who needs to go to a nationwide park in winter, however who doesn’t wish to take care of tremendous chilly daytime temperatures (ahem, I’m you Bryce Canyon), will discover themselves in Joshua Tree in the course of the winter months. 

Hidden valley in joshua treeHidden valley in joshua tree
Hidden Valley in Joshua Tree

Best Joshua Tree Winter Hikes

Because Joshua Tree will get so scorching in {the summertime}, there are some wonderful hikes that one ought to solely try in spring, fall, and particularly winter. These three hikes are a few of the most attractive hikes in the park in the course of the winter.

Panorama Loop

  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Length: 6.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,000 ft
  • Estimated Time: 3.5 – 5 hours

The Panorama Loop is unmatched in Joshua Tree. This hike takes you in the form of a lollipop that begins and ends in a sandy wash however climbs to an overlook with, because the identify implies, a panoramic panoramic imaginative and prescient of the entire park. 

The Panorama Loop additionally takes you to a few of the densest Joshua Tree development in the entire park. It’s actually astounding to see the wealthy inexperienced vegetation stark in opposition to the rocky desert crags.

Lost Horse Mine

Lost horse mineLost horse mine
Lost Horse Mine and a Joshua Tree
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 400 ft
  • Estimated Time: 2-3 hours

The Lost Horse Mine path is a wonderful selection for historical past lovers. Before Joshua Tree was a nationwide park, it acted because the supply of many gold mines, whose dilapidated stays are nonetheless decaying at numerous factors all through Joshua Tree. 

The Lost Horse Mine is certainly one of these. Though you’re not allowed to get very near the previous mill web site and mine (to guard it and your self), you may see it from a distance and marvel on the ruins.

For these in an extended historic path, the Lost Horse Loop Trail is a tougher hike that’s additionally value testing.

Discovery Trail

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: Less than one mile
  • Elevation Gain: Less than 100 ft
  • Estimated Time: half-hour to an hour

The Discovery Trail definitely doesn’t provide rigorous train for the professional hiker, but it surely’s on the prime of the record for simple hikes in Joshua Tree. The Discovery Trail is definitely one of many latest hikes at Joshua Tree and it factors out a few of the most fascinating geological options the park gives.

Climb below unusual sandstone rocks, see the sprawling piles, and seemingly countless desert wash all in one quick hike. This hike can also be a good possibility if you happen to’re touring with children. Besides it being a simple hike, it additionally supplies an interactive expertise via informative placards that assist children be taught extra in regards to the geological formations on the park. 

And More!

For extra Joshua Tree hikes be certain that to check out this post

Joshua trees tallJoshua trees tall
A mini backyard of Joshua bushes

Best Places To Visit in Joshua Tree National Park

These are my prime spots to see in Joshua Tree in winter!

Wall Street Mine

The previous Wall Street Mine was a extremely profitable gold mine in its day and is now a few of the park’s coolest ruins. Take the Wall Street Mine path to search out this hidden rustic magnificence.

Hidden Valley Nature Trail & Day Use Area

In addition to providing a stunning quick hike via a few of the better of what Joshua Tree has to supply, the picnic spot throughout the parking zone from this trailhead is an unimaginable spot to eat lunch. Look up on the iconic rock piles whilst you eat your peanut butter sandwich, then spend a while with the household climbing on these large works of nature.

Keys View

Keys viewKeys view
The surroundings at Keys View

Especially if you happen to aren’t a giant hiker, Keys View is a should-see for any first-time customer to Joshua Tree National Park. This drive takes you up 5,000 ft over Joshua Tree, and the miles and miles of valley seen from the head make Keys View a simple favorite. If you’re into stargazing, this generally is a great place to see a sky filled with glittering stars at night time as properly.

Skull Rock

Skull Rock is a favorite place to discover and climb in Joshua Tree. This distinctive rock which, sure, seems to be similar to a cranium, is true off the roadside. You can cease for photographs and lunch or you may park and take the 1.7-mile hike that’s simply throughout the street. This is one other should-see and one of many park’s most original rock formations. 

Joshua tree mojave desert californiaJoshua tree mojave desert california
Getting near the rocks

How Many Days Do You Need in Joshua Tree?

Day journeys are completely positive for anybody in the California space, and it’s not exceptional to get the household roused good and early on a Sunday morning and spend the day mountain climbing all through the park.

However, for these in search of greater than only a fast day journey, I’d suggest not less than three or 4 days on the park. Any much less, and also you’re having to select and select which hikes you wish to do and which of them to skip. 

Plus, a part of the attraction to Joshua Tree is having the ability to camp. This means that you can take your time getting up, head out to the paths after they begin to heat-up, round 10 or so, after which spend the night time stargazing. And as I’ve talked about above, the stargazing is phenomenal in Joshua Tree.  

To offer you an thought, seeing and mountain climbing every thing I’ve listed in this information alone would take not less than 4 days, and that is not at all every thing there’s to see on the park!

Where To Stay in Joshua Tree

There are loads of locations to remain in and close to Joshua Tree, listed here are a few of my prime picks.

Inside the Park

Near hidden valley campgroundNear hidden valley campground
Joshua Tree surroundings close to Hidden Valley Campground

There are a whole of 9 campgrounds at Joshua Tree. And moreover having prompt entry to stargazing and good previous-long-established marshmallow roasting, you might be immediately supporting the National Park Service by tenting at their campsites, which is a win-win. 

For those that love tenting, my prime choose is Belle Campground. This is a small web site and might replenish shortly, particularly in the busier months. Be certain to get right here early because it’s first-come, first-served. 

Cottonwood Campground is one other good keep. This one’s a lot bigger than Belle Campground, with over 60 spots obtainable. During the winter, reservations are required and spots replenish shortly. Cottonwood Campground options nice views of the distinctive geology that makes Joshua Tree so beloved.

Outside the Park

La Maison Hotel is likely one of the coolest spots to remain close to Joshua Tree. It principally feels such as you’re dwelling in a big residence whilst you’re there. This lodge is nothing just like the Marriott or one thing comparable; at La Maison, you’re transported again to the times of the California gentry. 

Parker Palm Springs is one other place to remain exterior the park, as long as you will have the money to make it work. This place will run you a hefty invoice, however in alternate, you’ll get the very best-high quality care and repair, match with scorching tubs, spa days, oh, and possibly some mountain climbing if you will get out of the consolation suite.

Andalusian Court is the most costly place to remain on this record, but it surely’s additionally probably the most unforgettable. You don’t simply get a room right here – at Andalusian Court, you’ll get a non-public villa. This place means that you can take pleasure in Joshua Tree with the consolation of true luxurious as your private home base.

There are additionally many great Airbnb to remain at in the Joshua Tree space – we stayed in this wonderful cabin near Joshua Tree village, however there are a lot of extra locations to select from!

Planning to go to different nationwide parks in winter? Here are our guides!


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