Joshua Tree Travel Guide: Your Weekend Will Be Spent Right!
Joshua Tree, Yucca Brevifolia, the tree of life, such a unique plantation area and stunning views created by these trees, cactuses and ocotillos…Among all national parks that I’ve visited so far, I believe this one was the shortest, so it is totally up to you whether you wanna do a one-day trip or two. We take a night in there to watch the clear night sky with those famous rock formations that we saw astrophotography shots. If you want to plan a night stay, Casa de Frank is one of the closest and affordable locations almost right next to the northern park entrance. However, Joshua Tree also offer many great camping sites inside the park for the adventure seekers. Especially for night photographers and people who want to make new friends in there, these tents are an awesome option. Your road trip inside the park will be one of the simplest since there is only one main road which is Pinto Basin Road. If you stick to that one you will see almost 90% of the must visit locations. With no further talk, here are the list of the places that you should add your list during your visit to Joshua Tree National Park:
It was a nice short walking trail which took 30 minutes for a roundtrip. This is gonna be your first stop if you enter from northern entrance. Probably during clear sky and times with good lighting, the reflections on the dam would be even better. Still we saw some nice Joshua Trees which already bloomed a lot of their flowers. On your way to the dam keep your eyes on surrounding area to see some squirrels. Definitely go and check out the dam!
Cholla Cactus Garden
Great place to make a stop, walk around the beautiful garden full of cactuses and enjoy the sunlight. It looks like an endless garden, you may fail to walk till its end. Even the entrance will be enough to keep you satisfied and relaxed. Well, I should say my time in that garden ended really painful. I left the walkway and tried to find a nice spot to shoot some cactuses with a different composition and didn’t noticed all the cactus pieces on the ground which sticked to my shoes. Once I realized it was too late, and it was such a painful process to remove them all. So, y’all better watch your step!
Arch Rock & Skull Rock
During the daylight, these rock formations are really nice, BUT if you have patience and time definitely visit them when the sun goes down. These rocks create amazing contrast with the night sky and they are perfect for astrophotography just like Joshua Trees. These rock formations are next to each other where there is a nice little campground area for campers. Skull Rock will be visible right after you parked your car next to it. For Arch Rock you may have to walk for 4-5 minutes depends on the place you park your car.
Cottonwood Visitor Center
Don’t worry I didn’t actually mean the visitor center itself unless you want to buy some souvenir, then visit there as well. The area the I’m talking about is between the Cottonwood Visitor Center and the southern entrance of the park (for us it was exit). There is a beautiful area along the way with full of different flowers all bloomed during spring. So this is definitely a place to have a short photo stop or to have a short picnic next to these beauties. One of the best parts of Joshua Tree National Park is that it has so many random stops that are not mention in anywhere neither on the map that we could call it as gem! Sometimes it is so great to have many stops without plan and just enjoy that moment and view.
There is another stop that I want to add here which is Ocotillo Patch. Even we made our search in the area, there were no bloomed ocotillos probably due to the seasonal issues. So during your visit definitely look out for Ocotillo Patch which is really close to the Cholla Cactus Garden.
Keys View (Let it be your location for sunset!)
Best Sunset Location In Joshua Tree National Park!! Yes, you heard it loud and clear. This is clearly the best scenic view for the sunset. Be aware that it will be cold due to the strong wind in that area. However this is the place that you can watch and photograph the best sunset in the area even without Joshua Trees, so try to deal with the cold somehow. Keys View has a large parking area since it receives so many visitors during the day. If Joshua Trees are a MUST for your sunset pictures, then drive your car 5-10 minutes north of Keys View and stop anywhere that has Joshua Trees around. Pick the one you like and get your sunset shot like mine on the cover of this post.
Of course I don’t need to mention Joshua Tree itself this as a stop, but just know that they are not present all around the park. Joshua Trees are mostly located on the northern part of the park.
That is pretty much it from our trip to Joshua Tree National Park. Hope you will find the best sunny days to plan your visit to there and have an awesome trip. Until the next National Park post, see you on the next one!
Other National Parks In California!
JOIN my National Park Bucketlist Photo Challenge on Instagram by using the hashtag #npbybaris for your pictures in National Parks! Great surprises will be waiting for travelers who joins the challenge!