Joshua Tree National Park Route
We entered via the Cottonwood Visitor Center entrance nearest I-10. There we met a friendly ranger who offered us a suggested route after asking us about the time we had available and our interests. Since we only planned on a day trip, we headed north along the Pinto Basin Road making our first stop at the Cholla Cactus
Garden. We were cautioned by the ranger not to hug (or touch) the “Teddy Bear” cactus despite their appearance, as microscopic barbs at the end of the silvery bristles made these painful to remove.
Ample parking was available at the garden entrance, as was a pamphlet which explained each of 16 numbered stops. The well-groomed path was easy to navigate and the clear skies provided easy viewing of the Pinto, Eagle and Coxcomb Mountains (some 33 miles away).
After traveling through Wilson Canyon, we stopped for a bit of picture-taking and hiking at Skull Rock. One of the nicest aspects of the park are the well-marked and varied hiking trails. There are over 25 hiking trails in the park. The easiest only .25 miles and accessible to wheelchairs, while others extend over 35 miles and would take 2-3 days to complete.
Continuing on we stopped at Barker Dam, Keys Ranch, Hidden Valley and through to Keys View. At all locations, we found adequate parking and well-maintained viewing areas.
Joshua Tree National Park Camping
We passed a number of dry campers on BLM land outside the park entrance. It seems that Joshua Tree National Park has become an extremely popular destination in recent years. From October to May, it is best to make a campsite reservation, though many of the sites are first come, first served. There are length restrictions at many of the campgrounds, so be certain to check the website carefully. However, if you are able to secure a site you won’t complain about privacy or the view. We were envious of the camper pictured here. And just imagine star-gazing in these dark skies at night.