Are you dreaming of a camping trip to Joshua Tree National Park? Joshua Tree is magical, with otherworldly landscapes, starry night skies, and unique rock formations.
This comprehensive guide will teach you what you need to know to plan the perfect Joshua Tree camping trip.
Here's a sneak peek at the top 5 campgrounds in Joshua Tree:
- White Tank Campground
- Hidden Valley Campground
- Jumbo Rocks Campground
- Indian Cove Campground
- Black Rock Campground
Read on to learn more about these campgrounds and some essential camping tips.
1. White Tank Campground
Amidst the vast White Tank Mountain Regional Park, the largest regional park in Maricopa County, spanning nearly 30,000 acres, lies the White Tank Campground.
This gateway to rugged terrains and the White Tank Mountains is an enclave amid immense granite boulders. It is known for its excellent night sky viewing near the park's darkest section, offering stargazers a celestial feast.
For the best stargazing spots, check our list: Top 5 U.S. National Parks for Star Gazing
The campground features 40 individual sites available for tent or RV camping, with amenities like water and electrical hook-ups, picnic tables, barbecue grills, and fire rings.
All sites can be reserved online, catering to both advanced planning and spontaneous visits. While it accommodates RVs and trailers, they are restricted to a combined maximum length of 25 feet, ensuring a cozy and intimate camping experience.
Here are some insider tips that could help you prepare for your trip:
- Prepare to carry in your own water as there's no potable water on site.
- Arrive early to secure a first-come, first-served campsite.
- Bring firewood for campfires in the fire pits.
- Enjoy scenic desert landscapes and rock formations.
- Photograph stars at night — excellent stargazing.
- The best times to visit are late fall and early spring due to weather.
- Unfortunately, there's no wheelchair access.
- Each site fits up to six people and six vehicles.
- Stay for a day or overnight to fully experience the area.
2. Hidden Valley Campground
Hidden Valley Campground, along Park Boulevard, offers a serene escape amidst towering boulders and iconic Joshua Trees.
With 44 campsites available on a first-come, first-served basis, visitors have a fair chance to experience the campground's charm. While Hidden Valley lacks a water supply, its stunning natural beauty and practical amenities compensate.
Each campsite features a picnic table, ideal for meals under the starry desert sky. The campground's prime location boasts picturesque scenery and convenient access to outdoor activities.
Hikers can explore the surrounding trails, while cyclists can enjoy the views along the park's paved roads. As you're preparing for your trip to this spot, consider saving these TripAdvisor tips:
- Arrive early as its popularity has reduced availability.
- Expect basic amenities like flat sites, toilets, and trash bins.
- Watch for wildlife like coyotes and rodents. Store food properly.
- Hike on nearby trails to attractions like Mohave pictographs.
- Know that RVs up to 25 feet are allowed, but there are no hookups.
- Be respectful of other campers by minimizing noise and properly disposing of waste.
- Take advantage of excellent bouldering and scrambling on nearby rocks.
3. Jumbo Rocks Campground
A family-friendly hub, Jumbo Rocks Campground, with its 124 campsites, is a testimony to the grand aura of Joshua Tree National Park.
The campground accommodates RVs, trailers (both at a maximum length of 35 feet), and tents among giant granite boulders for families and explorers.
Skull Rock, one of the park's remarkable rock formations, is a short hike away, great for a blend of adventure and tranquility in the vast desert.
But there are a few safety measures to remember before you go there. Here are some of them, plus a few practical camping advice:
- Take sun protection.
- Sites are first-come, first-served.
- Be cautious of wildlife like rattlesnakes.
- Note that, unfortunately, wheelchair access is limited.
- Choose Jumbo Rocks for stunning sunrises, sunsets, and starry night skies. Watch for bees and rattlesnakes.
- Sites accommodate tents well but have limited space for trailers.
- Jumbo Rocks has 124 reservable sites with picnic tables and fire rings. It's near Skull Rock but lacks running and drinking water.
- Each site fits up to 6 people, and vehicles and campfires are allowed.
4. Indian Cove Campground
Positioned off Highway 62, Indian Cove Campground is a gateway to the Wonderland of Rocks, offering 101 campsites, including 13 group campsites.
Amidst steep rock formations, this campground provides a secluded camping spot with pit toilets, tables, and fire grates for a classic camping experience.
While there are no hookups or drinking water directly at the site, these amenities are available two miles away at the ranger station.
Note that access to the main portion of Joshua Tree National Park from the campground is only possible via hiking trails, and a separate $30 per vehicle entrance fee is required for park access.
You should also keep these tips in mind when planning your trip to the Indian Cove Campground:
- Choose your campsite wisely — sites vary in size, wind protection, and trailer suitability.
- Expect peace, quiet, and beautiful desert scenery.
- Make reservations in advance.
- Enjoy hiking, biking, rock climbing, sunset views, and stargazing.
- Amenities are basic: no running water/electricity, but clean pit toilets are available.
- Consider proximity to town and ranger station for water access.
- Individual sites have tables, grills, and fire pits.
- Pets are allowed, but no wheelchair access.
- Up to 6 vehicles and 20 guests are allowed per site.
5. Black Rock Campground
Situated in the northwest corner of Joshua Tree National Park, Black Rock Campground boasts 99 campsites, each equipped with a picnic table and fire ring.
Restrooms and water are available nearby, adding a touch of convenience to the rustic camping experience.
The campground is nestled among one of the thickest Joshua tree forests in the park, making it a popular rest stop for outdoor enthusiasts, including hikers, birders, horseback riders, and RV campers.
The campground's location facilitates many outdoor activities, with various hiking trails through diverse landscapes, offering a quiet and family-friendly camping location suitable for both seasoned and first-time campers.
Here are extra camper tips before heading to Black Rock Campground:
- Bring your own drinking water despite availability onsite.
- Expect campsites close together with little privacy.
- Avoid noise disturbances by being respectful of quiet hours.
- Take the recommended Panorama Loop hike for great views.
- Amenities are clean but basic — no electric/water hookups for RVs.
- Reserve early for the best site selection; these vary from open desert to among trees.
Activities and Attractions
From hiking and climbing to stargazing and wildlife watching, this unique desert landscape has no shortage of things to do.
1. Hiking and Climbing
Joshua Tree National Park offers spectacular hiking opportunities, such as the 2.9-mile Ryan Mountain Trail, known for its stunning panoramic views.
For those seeking a challenge, the Lost Palms Oasis Trail is a perfect choice, spanning 7.4 to 7.5 miles and leading to a beautiful palm oasis.
Rock climbers will find over 9,000 routes in the park, with popular areas catering to all skill levels.
2. Stargazing and Wildlife
The park is also a prime location for stargazing, especially around the new moon when the sky is darkest.
Wildlife enthusiasts can enjoy the diversity of life in the park, home to 57 mammal species, over 250 bird species, 46 reptile species, and a variety of amphibians and invertebrates.
You might also see animals like bighorn sheep, coyotes, and desert tortoises, and birdwatchers can spot species such as ravens, quail, hawks, and roadrunners.
3. Other Recreational Activities
In addition to hiking and climbing, Joshua Tree offers a variety of other activities.
Horseback riding is popular in the park, with several companies offering guided tours. During spring, the park is a spectacular place to see wildflowers in bloom.
For more wildflower spots, read our list: National Parks in Bloom: 11 Top Spots for Wildflower Sightings This Spring
Get Out and Explore Joshua Tree National Park!
If you've made it this far, you're ready to start planning your Joshua Tree camping trip! With its captivating desert scenery and star-filled nights, Joshua Tree offers an escape from life's worries.
As you prepare, remember to make reservations early and arrive equipped with lots of water and the essential gear.
Choose your campground wisely based on the experience you're seeking. Pitch your tent or park your RV with care to minimize your impact. Most importantly, explore Joshua Tree with an open mind and adventurous spirit.
Wander through whimsical rock formations, listen for coyotes howling at dusk, and lean back to soak in the Milky Way. Pause for a little while, breathe, and create special memories that will stay with you long after you leave.