I first started hiking in the then “Joshua Tree National Monument” in the early 1970’s, and fell in love with the area, it was no surprise to me when it was designated a National Park in 1994. If you are ready to experience some of the most beautiful hiking the Palm Springs area has to offer, grab your CamelBak, other Hydration Pack or Hydroflask and get out on the trail!
The area of desert covered by Joshua Tree National Park’s nearly 800,000 acres has been inhabited by humans for at least 5,000 years. The first group known to inhabit the area was the Pinto Culture, followed by the Serrano, the Chemehuevi, and the Cahuilla. In the 1800s cattlemen drove their cows into the area for grass and water, and later miners dug tunnels through the earth looking for gold and made tracks across the desert with their trucks. Homesteaders began filing claims in the 1900s. They built cabins, dug wells, and planted crops.
Joshua Tree National Park hiking trails
Hike up Ryan Mountain – A fairly easy hike that offers fantastic views of the park
Hike to 49 Palms Oasis – A 3.4 mile round trip hike to a fan palm oasis
Hike to the Lost Horse Mine – A 6.8 mile loop hike that takes you to an 1800’s gold mine
Hike to the Lost Palms Oasis – A 7.4 mile hike to a beautiful desert oasis
Each of these diverse groups left its mark upon the area and contributed to the rich cultural history of Joshua Tree National Park. Joshua Tree National Park protects 501 archaeological sites, 88 historic structures, 19 cultural landscapes, and houses 123,253 items in its museum collection.
The area became a national monument in 1936, local and regional residents were the primary park visitors to the park. As a teenager living in Yucca Valley I used to make frequent visits to the monument, and hiked several of the trails, including 49 Palms Oasis and Mastodon Peak.
As Southern California, especially the Yucca Valley and high desert area, as well as Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley grew so did park visitation; Joshua Tree now lies within a three-hour drive of more than 18 million people. In 1994, Joshua Tree was elevated from national monument to national park status, and now even greater numbers of visitors from around the nation and the world come to experience Joshua Tree National Park. It is a beautiful area to visit and spend time in, and a place that you should not miss if visiting Southern California, or the Palm Springs area.
Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most popular rock climbing areas in the world. More than 4,500 established routes offering a wide range of difficulty are concentrated within the park. For more detailed information on rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park click here.
Directions to Joshua Tree National Park
Directions: Joshua Tree National Park lies 140 miles east of Los Angeles. You can approach it from the west via Interstate 10 and Hwy 62 (Twentynine Palms Highway). The north entrances to the park are located at Joshua Tree Village and the city of Twentynine Palms. The south entrance at Cottonwood Spring, which lies 25 miles east of Indio, can be approached from the east or west, also via Interstate 10. You can view a maps of the park and roads leading to it here.
Things to do at Joshua Tree National Park
Things to do at Joshua Tree National Park (these links will open a new window at the official Joshua Tree National Park website)