Joshua Tree Camping

Joshua Tree Camping | Your Guide to Joshua Tree National Park Campgrounds


Joshua Tree Camping is one of the best camping experiences one could ever have. Its rich blend of fauna and flora, beautiful nightlife with the starts, scenic rocks and world-class hiking and climbing possibilities make Joshua Tree National Park Camping just what you need when you need to take a break all by yourself or with loved ones to relax and let nature do the trick!

Joshua Tree Campgrounds can be found 2½ hours east of Los Angeles. It is east of Idyllwild and Palm Springs, and north of the Salton Sea and rich in ideal desert getaway destinations for you. Most of the campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park can be found among magnificent boulder formations. The formations evolve beautifully in the evenings when illuminated in the evenings with light from flickering campfires as the sky darkens. A million stars in the sky join the howling coyotes to make the nightlife in the shade of the Joshua Trees and then you’ll see for yourself the beauty of Joshua Tree Camping.

Joshua Tree Camping is worthy camping experience and it comes with interesting options to that’ll make you come back for more of   Joshua tree national park.You should know your way around Joshua Tree Campgrounds in order to decide which would work best for you and your preferences. This article will highlight the best of Joshua Tree Campgrounds and what you get to do in each to ensure you have all the fun the park has to offer and nothing less.

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Belle Campground – Joshua Tree Camping

Joshua Tree CampingElevation: 3,800 feet (1,158 meters).
Open: October – May
Cost: $10
Number of campsites: 18

The Belle Campground is a perfect place to be if you like it serene even when in the wild. It is a small campground and often over-looked because of its distance from the more popular desert highlights of the park.  This distance is however an advantage in disguise as it makes the campground to be one of the quietest and darkest in the park, an excellent choice for stargazers. With 18 campsites, it is an obvious location for those who go to bed early and lovers who want to escape unavoidable distractions. The Sonoran Desert and Pinto Basin can be viewed and accessed from here as well as the large expanse of sprawling desert landscape.

Black Rock Campground – Joshua Tree National Park Camping

Joshua Tree CampingElevation: 4,000 feet (1,219 meters).
Open: Year-round (1/2 of campsites closed June – September)
Cost: $15

Number of campsites: 100

The Black Rock Campground is located near the far western corner of the park, just above the Yucca Valley and some distance away from major attractions of the park. It has no direct access to the park but it makes up for this with its perks such as lovely sites on a hill-top location, potable/ running water, flush toilets, junipers, cholla cacti and an abundance of the dramatic Joshua Trees for shade. Its location by the Little San Bernardino Mountains allows for hiking to some of the highest peaks in the area. And at night you’ll be treated to a pretty view of Yucca Valley’s lights shimmering below.

The campground is one of the first you’ll see on your way from LA and is within easy reach of restaurants and stores along 29 palms highway. The 1.3-mile Hi-View Nature Trail can be easily accessed from the site, along which herds of bighorn sheep or mule deer pass through regularly. Hike lovers will love to ascend some of the highest peaks in the park and enjoy the night hiking experience which always reveals the glittering Yucca Valley lights below.

Cottonwood Campground – Joshua Tree Campgrounds

Joshua Tree CampingElevation: 3,000-feet (914-meters)

Open: Year-round (1/2 of campsites closed June – September)
Cost: $15

Number of campsites: 62/ Group sites available
The Cottonwood Campground is a unique one. Located on the southern boundary of the Joshua Tree National Park, it is different in every way from the other campgrounds around. For starters, it is secluded in the heart of the Sonoran Desert; away from the shade of Joshua trees it also has a relatively low elevation: (3,000-feet/914-meter), which makes it warmer than other campgrounds. This is good for winter but not so good during summer. The campground also has potable water and flush toilets.

Cottonwood campground can be easily accessed through the south entrance of the park. The campground is close to the Cholla Garden, Ocotillo Patch, and many hiking trails including the Lost Palm Oasis, a favorite hiking spot. One of the best-kept secrets of the park, the Cottonwood Spring Oasis is just a half-mile hike away. This natural spring was in times past used by the Cahuilla Indians, gold prospectors, miners, and teamsters. Gold mills were built up the spring and some remains of this can still be found near the oasis, a scenic feature in the desert with its tall luxuriant palms that sway gracefully in the desert.

Hidden Valley Campground – Joshua Tree Camping

Joshua Tree CampingElevation: 4,200 feet (1,280 meters).
Open: Year-round
Cost: $10
Number of campsites: 44

If you want a beautiful place to camp in the park, this is it! Even the sight of mountain climbers reaching for the height of every rock in view day and night is a beautiful sight to behold. The Hidden Valley Campground is a top destination for bouldering, climbing, rope climbing and even tall climbing without ropes. Tucked perfectly in the midst of some of the park’s most striking rock faces, the Hidden Valley Campground has a way of making one feel safe and cozy amidst all the fun and activities making.
This campground is a social camp with climbers, explorers, and rangers as regulars.

Its location on the southern edge of the Wonderland of Rocks makes it popular with rock climbers. This may explain why it is also one of the most difficult campgrounds to get a campsite. But if you are early and lucky enough to get any of the 44 campsites of Hidden Valley Campground, you’ll have the privilege of enjoying the most beautiful campgrounds in the park. It is a within easy reach of Barker Dam, a popular hiking destination. This is the ultimate campground for crowded, friendly fun.

Indian Cove Campground – Joshua Tree National Park Camping

Joshua Tree CampingElevation: 3,200 feet (975 meters).

Open: Year-round (1/2 of campsites closed June – September)
Cost: $15

Number of campsites: 101/Group sites available

The Indian Cove with its 101 sites is the second-largest campground in the Joshua Tree National Park. Located south of 29 Palms Highway, it is a great choice if you need to be able to access the amenities in town, outside of the park.  However, this means that it is a bit far from major attractions of the park. The fact that it is nestled amidst some magnificent boulder formations of interest to rock climbers (who fill it up quickly) makes up for its distant location.

The towering rock formations scattered in the area also makes the campground popular with hikers. You can see Mojave yuccas, spring wildflower blooms, the exceptional desert tortoise and or the Le Conte’s thrasher (birders take note!) from here.
The campground has potable/running water, flush toilets and can accommodate small RVs or trailers with a maximum of 25 feet in terms of combined length.

Jumbo Rocks Campground – Joshua Tree Campgrounds

Joshua Tree CampingElevation: 4,400 feet (1,341 meters).
Open: Year-round
Cost: $10
Number of campsites: 124

Jumbo Rocks is the most family-friendly and largest campground in the park. It has the highest number of sites (124) and scale of rocks. It is in the midst of fantastic boulder formations that are ideal for climbing and scrambling. The large Jumbo Rocks hangover easy going trails and campsites to offer privacy. The rocks are in different sizes for different categories of climbers so you don’t have anything to fear if you’re not a pro as there are even beginner-friendly and kid-friendly rocks. Yes, kid-friendly rocks because the camp encourages families to camp, no excuses anymore. Besides, there’s enough space to go round.

Ryan Campground- Joshua Tree Camping

Joshua Tree CampingElevation: 4,300 feet (1,311 meters).
Open: October – May
Cost: $10
Number of campsites: 31

The Ryan Campground is famous for its incredible sunsets, great climbing experiences on the magnificent boulders that dot the grounds and closeness to the Ryan Ranch ruins, incredible sunsets and great climbing on the giant boulders strewn throughout the grounds. The Ryan Ranch was built by the J.D. Ryan family in 1896. The Ryan family were profitable miners in charge of the Lost Horse Mine about three miles south. A fire in the 1970s destroyed the home of which the foundation and brick fireplace remain, as well as a small cemetery nearby. Lovers of spooky night-time stories will find this campground to be a delight.

That aside, the west side of the camp is the place to go if you love picturesque sunsets there are only 31 sites at the  Ryan Campground, so getting a spot here may be difficult. But as always, the earlier you go for it, the better for you.

Sheep Pass Campground – Joshua Tree National Park Camping

Joshua Tree CampingElevation: 4,500 feet (1,372 meters)
Open: Year-round
Cost: $25 – 40

Number of campsites: 6 campsites/ Group sites only

Sheep Pass Campground is a strict group campground and a favorite place for families and large groups. It has 6 group campsites big enough to accommodate 10 to 60 people each.

You may want to think twice about choosing this camp if you’re a total loner but it is perfect for summer camps, parties, picnics, birthday celebrations, Boy Scouts campouts and family reunions. It’s a huge space with beautiful sights, heartwarming sounds and enough space to go round for activities. There is an easy access to the Ryan Mountain hiking trails from the campgrounds for those moments when you and your loved ones want to take things a notch higher.

White Tank Campground – Joshua Tree Campgrounds

Joshua Tree CampingElevation: 3,800 feet (1,158 meters).
Open: October – May
Cost: $10

Number of campsites: 15

The White Tank Campground is the smallest of Joshua Tree campgrounds; it has just 15 campsites. Well, the great advantage that this offers is coziness, seclusion, peace, and serenity, this is perfect for lone or private camping. It is near Belle Campground and Arch Rock Nature Trail, for the best hiking experience

You can enjoy an easy hike on the Arch Rock Nature Trail during the day and uninterrupted stargazing at night.  The Arch Rock is a granite arch 15 feet high and 35 feet wide. It’s a rare beauty to behold and worth seeing even if you won’t be camping in the white tank campground.

Each campsite can take six people, three tents and two cars while group sites can take 10 to 60 people. The hours between 10 pm and 6 am are quiet hours. There is a 30-day camping limit every year while14 nights total are allowed from October to May.

There are no hook-ups for recreational vehicles. Black Rock and Cottonwood have dump stations and fresh-water fill-up.

The group sites of Indian Cove campground, Hidden Valley campground and White Tank campground cannot have motorhomes and trailers with a combined vehicle length that is more than 25 feet.

Only Black Rock Campground, Cottonwood Campground and Indian Cove campgrounds are the only campgrounds with running water.

All campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park have basic toilet facilities, with fire rings and picnic tables present in all campsites. You are however expected to bring your firewood or purchase from stores just outside the park.

Things To Do In Joshua Tree National Park 

Joshua Tree National Park is the prettiest National park California has. It is located in the midst of the Mojave and Colorado deserts, a picturesque setting with a thrilling aura. There’s so much to see, feel and do in the park. From camping under the stars to rock climbing, hiking and walking under the shade while you appreciate the vegetation, it’s a beautiful place to be.

The Joshua Tree National Park is a clear-cut picture of beauty in the midst of the desert. The sun rises and then sets to be followed by a galactic display of the stars in their full glory, the unusual flora rise up to accentuate the exquisite rock formations and just when you think that’s all to see, you see something else. When you find yourself in Joshua tree national park, be sure to try out the following.

Climb the Hidden Valley – Things to do in Joshua Tree National Park

The hidden valley is a popular climbing spot and a great place to start your exploration of the Joshua Tree National Park. It is one of the most beautiful areas of the park that is easily accessible with a perfect for a short hike in the area wandering amidst trees and rock outcrops. Watch out for giant monolith “Great Burrito” on the trail. The valley has a picnic area where large Joshua Trees provide the right amount of shade.

The Hidden Valley has a picnic area, opposite parking lot from the trailhead with an abundance of large Joshua trees amidst rock piles that make it scenic, picture-perfect for photography.

Take Pictures – Things to do in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is a photographer’s paradise. As you enjoy the beautiful sights and sceneries, be sure to capture as many moments as possible as you can in pictures. You’ll want to remember later, trust me.

Climb the Arch Rock – Things to do in Joshua Tree National Park

The Arch Rock is a rare geologic formation with a granite arch that is about 15 feet high. It has a natural trail with beautiful rock formations for your climbing pleasure.

Explore the Hall of Horrors – Things to do in Joshua Tree National Park

The Hall of Horrors is not a hall in reality. It is a famous climbing spot and one of the best places in Joshua Tree National Park to take sunset pictures. Name asides, it is a fascinating place to be as its unusual rock formations look like they were put there by titans.

Climb the Skull Rock – Things to do in Joshua Tree National Park

I bet you think only mammals have skulls. I did too until I saw the Skulls Rock. With its 1.5 nature trail loop that is sure to fascinate you, it is definitely a different type of rock. People have described seeing images and faces in the skull rock formation that you need just a little imagination to see skull shapes in the different faces of the rock. The naturally sculpted rock is located by the road and always seems to draw a crowd to it.

See The Palms Oasis – Things to do in Joshua Tree National Park

We all love the idea of an oasis in a desert, of the promising possibilities the desert holds and gives hope for the future of more. This is what the Palms Oasis signifies. It is not your regular oasis lovable all the same and worth hiking to see.

Gaze at the Stars – Things to do in Joshua Tree National Park

While it is easy to call it a day once the stars come out to play, the night lights in the Joshua Tree National Park will give you a reason to stay awake much longer as you behold the resplendent array of the night lights. There is limited light pollution on the campground and this allows for better viewing than in anywhere else.

Visit the Cholla Cactus Garden – Things to do in Joshua Tree National Park

Nature lovers will agree that this is one of the most beautiful places in the park. The display of densely packed chollas across the desert floor is one of the most awesome sights you will find in the park. You can even go a bit further and catch the glow of the backlit needles early in the morning as the sun rises or later in the afternoon as the sun sets, with the distant mountains as perfect backdrops. The Cholla Cactus Garden is located on the way to on Cottonwood Spring, after Belle and White Tank campgrounds. The Ocotillo Patch is further along this road, towards Cottonwood.

Visit Noah Purifoy’s “Outdoor Museum – Things to do in Joshua Tree National Park

The Joshua Tree Outdoor Museum is a desert marvel that is often overlooked. Noah Purifoy dedicated the last 15 years of his life towards the construction of enormous junk sculptures across 10 acres of desert. Check out the junk sculptures and as you explore his works.

Rock Climbing and Bouldering – Things to do in Joshua National Park

Climbing and bouldering are major recreational activities in the park. The landscape provides an obvious explanation. Joshua Tree National Park has about 8,000 climbing routes alongside hundreds of climbing formations.

Climbers frequent Joshua Tree National Park attracts a lot of climbers especially during winter when other climbing destinations are out of season. The Hidden Valley area and sites towards the west end of the park are popular spots. Campgrounds in the park are mostly full during winter as a result of this especially in February and March, when climbers compete with recreational campers to vie for spots.

Walk the Barker Dam Nature Trail- Things to do in Joshua National Park

The Barker Dam is a 1.3-mile loop trail is a short walking path. It is your best option if you want to do one short trail in Joshua Tree. There are huge Joshua trees by the trail, rocks and an area of water that birds seem to be drawn to. At the end of the loop is the remains of a water tank left by former residents of the area who were cattle ranchers. Most people go back by the same route but this should not be so. There is a longer but more fascinating pathway if you continue on as the loop beyond the dam has some of the largest trees and best scenery in the park.