Visiting Joshua Tree, California: Weekend Guide

Joshua Tree, home to a massive national park, desert culture, and eclectic towns, all while nestled in the wilderness of the desert. Here’s our weekend guide to visiting Joshua Tree in California.

How to get to Joshua Tree

From Los Angeles, you can get to Joshua Tree easily by car. The journey is about 2 and a half hours and you’ll follow US-101 East. Here are the directions from downtown LA. The closest airport to Joshua Tree is Palm Springs International, which is 45 minutes from the park itself. There’s also Ontario International, which is about an hour and a half.


Things to do in Joshua Tree

The best things to do in Joshua Tree is explore the national park and discover the beauty of California’s Mojave Desert along with rock formations, as well as the Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia). In a weekend, here are the best things to see and do in Joshua Tree.

Skull Rock

Skull Rock is a must-see on a weekend trip to Joshua Tree. This skull-shaped desert rock formation is a favorite among park visitors. There’s a nearby parking spot or more avid trekkers can stretch their legs on the 1.7 mile trail beginning at the entrance of Jumbo Rocks Campground.

Coachella Valley Preserve

Lined with palm trees, this oasis is located next to the Joshua Tree National Park and boasts picturesque walking trails like McCallum, Hidden Palms, and Moon Country. While there, visit the Thousand Palm Oasis, which is beautiful sanctuary for the endangered Coachella Valley Fringe-Toed Lizard. 

Keys View

For scenic views of mesas, mountains, and Coachella Valley, visit Keys Views, Joshua Tree’s highest viewpoint. It’s a great spot for an evening hike to catch the sunset and stars. Plus, you’ll also be able to see California’s two biggest summits: Mount Gorgonio (elevation 11,502 feet) and Mount San Jacinto (elevation 10,834 feet).



Hiking and Rock Climbing

Take time to explore around Joshua Tree National Park and venture up its rocky slopes. It’s an excellent destination for outdoorsy and ambitious travelers for this reason. There are awesome guides in the area ready to take you on a rock climbing adventure in Joshua Tree. Pack a stylish water bottle for hiking.

Explore Pioneertown

Built in the 1940s as a live-in Wild West movie set, Pioneertown has been the set for 50s TV shows like Annie Oakley and The Cisco Kid. Now you can roam the town, visit a reconstructed jail, a vintage bowling alley, and the town’s most happening spot Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace for food and live music.


Where to stay at Joshua Tree

For a luxury experience at Joshua Tree, stay The Coyote House. It sleeps 4 guests, with two bedrooms and one bathroom and screams desert chic vibes with cacti and burnt orange accents. For a more intimate experience with the desert, stay at the Jumbo Rocks Campground. The area is stunning as it’s surrounded by massive rock formations. The campground also has 124 individual and RV campsites, BBQ areas, picnic tables, and more. That’s our weekend guide to Joshua Tree. Check out more California travel guides with our list of the best parks in and around Malibu.

Author :

Christa Adams is a writer, photographer, and sustainable traveler based in Barcelona. She's been traveling solo since 2014 has a passion for the outdoors, coffee culture, and exploring quaint European towns. Follow her adventures at



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