We had a blast hiking and climbing in Joshua Tree National Park. There are tons of fun activities to do in the park, even for a family with small children, and the park landscape feels like a prehistoric world.
We had only planned to stay three days, but after our first day exploring the unique landscape and climbing the boulder piles, we extended our stay to five.
We camped in Black Rock Canyon while at Joshua Tree. Black Rock Canyon has some trails that wind through the desert and summit some of the surrounding peaks for panoramic views of the park, but we spent most of our time outside of Black Rock Canyon, visiting different features and trails along the main drag through the park.
We stopped at some of the park’s main natural attractions like Arch Rock and Skull Rock, and we’d pull to the side of the road when we found an interesting boulder pile we wanted to climb.
I highly recommend a visit to Joshua Tree if you’re in the area or passing through.
A weekend in Joshua Tree National Park
If I only had a weekend in Joshua Tree National Park, I would spend it climbing the boulder piles in the 29 Palms area of the park.
You can pull to the side of the road when you see a boulder pile, or you can visit the popular spots, like Arch Rock, Skull Rock, and Hemingway.
Below are the best pictures from our time climbing the boulders in Joshua Tree National Park, and after that I share some tips if you are planning a visit.
Planning to Visit Joshua Tree National Park
Good Things to Know:
Be prepared for a lot or driving in and around Joshua Tree. The trailheads and features are spread out.
For climbing the boulders, have sturdy shoes and jeans. Our kids were scraped and scratched all over with holes in their cotton pants.
Just outside of the park entrance, there are plenty of grocery store, restaurant, and gas station options.
At each entrance, there is only one lane to let traffic into the park. After 10am, a line of cars and buses can form at the park entrance. We waited half an hour to get into the park one morning.
There are only a few places with running water inside the park. Be sure to carry with you into the park the water that you need.
The visitor centers leave a bit to be desired. We visited the visitor centers in Joshua Tree and 29 Palms, and each was sparse with interpretive exhibits and activities.
There aren’t showers in the park, but in the town of Joshua Tree, the Joshua Tree Store on the main park drive sells showers for $4 for 7.5 minutes. Totally worth it. Make sure you use the Duck bathroom. It’s smaller but has harder water pressure than the other bathroom.