If you are bored of traditional camping spots like bays and forests, try a desert one! Joshua Tree National Park is one of the greatest spots in this regard in the United States with nearly 3 million visitors per year. Huge granite boulders, unique rock formations and the park’s native Joshua trees are a sight to behold, so if you are interested in living among them for a couple of days, we’re here to explain everything you need to know before camping in Joshua Tree National Park.
Joshua Tree National Park is located in the US state of California, on the east of Los Angeles. It is named after its unique native Joshua trees. The park is 1,235 square miles large, nearly half of which is designated wilderness. 5 mountain ranges border the park: Coxcomb, Eagle, Cottonwood, Little San Bernardino and Pinto Mountains. There are 2 main areas: Mojave Desert and Colorado Desert.
Colorado Desert on the eastern part of the park is considered the “low desert”, and sits below 3,000 feet. It is nearly half as rich in species and seems sparser. Mojave Desert is located on the western part of the park and has more attractions, such as big Joshua trees and giant granite monoliths.
Since the park houses 2 desert areas, it has a hot desert climate. Temperatures are high, with average highs seeing 100 °F during summer. It doesn’t get much colder during winter months with even the coldest daily mean values sitting around 50 °F. Of course, these values can vary depending on the altitude, with higher mountainous spots averaging around 10 °F cooler.
Understandably, the park is very dry and doesn’t get much rain year-round. Its total yearly precipitation is around 5-6 mm, with its rainiest months being the winter months and August.
There are 9 campgrounds in the Joshua Tree National Park. Some of them are first-come, first-served, some others accept reservations and others are both, changing throughout the year.
Hidden Valley is the most popular campground. It is first-come, first-served year-round and accepts RVs. It is in the most scenic part of the park with beautiful rock formations and Joshua trees.
If you are a rock climber, Indian Cove has access to many popular rock climbing routes with boulders and monoliths.
White Tank Campground is located in the northern part of the park, among massive granite rocks. It is the darkest spot on the park and you can watch the night sky perfectly. It is also really close to the popular Arch Rock Nature Trail.
Jumbo Rocks Campgrounds is the largest one in the park and it is really close to many rock formations, the most famous one being Skull Rock.
If you arrive during busy weeks and want to get away from the crowds, Belle Campgrounds has only 18 first-come, first-served campsites that are spread around large rocks and Joshua trees.
Best Time to Visit Joshua Tree National Park
Because of the intense heat during summer months, most campgrounds fill from October to May. If you don’t mind the scorching heat and want to enjoy a desert camping experience without other people, you can visit during summer. Just keep in mind that the intense heat can be dangerous and all campgrounds are first-come, first-served during summer. Some of the campgrounds may also close.
If you don’t want to evaporate during summer, visit during fall, winter or early spring months. Winter months are not that crowded, but you will miss the chance to see beautiful desert wildflowers. Early spring is the best time to visit the park, but it will be crowded, so make reservations early or arrive as early as you can. Also, making your plans for weekdays will improve your chances.
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