Camping is a time for family or a time to be alone with nature. With activities that bring you closer to the outdoors, you don’t need a reason to go camping; camping is the reason. However, if you want to know why you should camp at Joshua Tree National Park, we have all the reasons you will ever need right here.
7 REASONS TO GO CAMPING AT JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK
When you think about Southern California, you don’t often think about camping. Instead, visions of San Diego beaches or Hollywood starlets spring to mind. Nestled in the South East on Interstate 10 between Palm Springs and Blythe, California is the amazing Joshua Tree National Park.
Camping at Joshua Tree is an experience you should have at least once in your life. If you are an avid camper or just a “once in a while” type, Joshua Tree has everything you need, want or could ask for in picturesque landscapes and nature all around you.
While the views are incredible and the sounds are serene, there are plenty of reasons to enjoy Joshua Tree camping. Here, we offer you everything you need to enjoy the sights, sounds, and nature of this large national park.
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WHAT DOES IT COST TO CAMP AT JOSHUA TREE?
As with most any campsite, you will need to pay to access and for your stay. As Joshua tree is a national park, your camping and visiting fees cover renovations, upkeep and general maintenance of the parks and the land.
Each car or truck entering the park will pay $25 at the entrance gates. Motorcycles will pay $15. If you are in an RV, you may be charged more, depending on where you are camping, if the total length is over 25 feet.
These fees are non-refundable and are subject to change at any time. You should call ahead and get the current entrance fees for your entrance point (north or south), so you aren’t surprised when you get there.
Each campsite will also have a nightly camping fee. Depending on the park you are staying at it will either be $15 or $20 per night.
As an added cost you should be aware that only Cottonwood and Black Rock sites have water. If you are staying at any of the other six sites, you will need to bring your own. You can purchase water at the west entrance if needed.
Payment works on an honor system, though you can pay over the phone for reserved spots and times, it is up to you to make the payment.
When you enter your campground, you will need to pull over at the sign and grab your yellow envelope. As you locate your site make a note of the number on the post.
When you pull in, fill out the yellow envelope and stuff it with your cash. However long you plan to stay is how much you pay. For example, if you are staying three nights in Indian Cove ($20 per night) drop $60 in the envelope. Peel off the yellow tear-away strip and pin it to the post under the number on your site.
Once this is done, drive back to the entrance where you got the yellow envelope and deposit your cash-filled envelope into the metal box’s slot.
Once your spot is secured, and your payment is made, you are ready to enjoy everything the park has to offer.
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WHY SHOULD YOU CAMP AT JOSHUA TREE
Following is a list of reasons to camp at Joshua Tree. You will find many others once you are there, but if you are looking for a specific reason, there are several to choose from.
The national park namesake is plenty of reason to visit. You may know these tall, spiny tree-like bushes from their other common names: Yucca plant, Yucca Tree, Joshua Tree, or Palm Tree Yucca.
By any name these trees are a wonder to behold, especially in numerous growth groves like you will find in the campground. They capture the sunlight and seem to glow as the light penetrates the thick needling at their tops.
You can find them all over the park, but if you are going just for the trees, you will want to camp in the Black Rock Canyon Campground, as there are the highest concentrations of Joshua Trees located there.
Aside from the trees the park is named for, it is most famous for their large boulders and incredible shapes. The rocks are perfect for gap climbing and crack climbing, in fact, many campers go just to climb the rocks.
The rocks themselves have been shaped by wind and sand erosion over centuries and today form some quite impressive shapes. One visitor noted they look a lot like the rocks and boulders drawn in many of the Dr. Seuss children’s books and the name stuck.
If you are into natural scenery and love rock climbing, then you will love climbing over, and camping near the Seussian rock formations found here.
Perhaps trails and horses are more your things? Then you should hitch your horse trailer up and head to the campground.
There are only two campsites that have horse stalls, Black Rock and Ryan (though Ryan closes in the winter), so you will want to make a reservation before heading out.
The horse trails and riding at sunset are some of the most beautiful views and rides you will ever take part in. Black Rock is also one of the few sites that have water, so your horses will be taken care of.
If you are in need for roughing it, enjoy the great outdoors with nothing more than a tent and a sleeping bag, then Joshua Tree is for you. Not only do you get to pick from eight sites to set up the tent, but you can also come year round if you like.
Even in the colder winter months most of the park is open for camping. The sites tend to fill up quickly on the weekends and is a first come first served style set up (except for the reservation sites) you will want to arrive early.
If, however, you find that the entire site is full when you arrive, there are more tent camping sites available outside the park. You can camp under the stars and visit the park by day. It’s a win-win.
Perhaps you have grown older and wiser, and you prefer to use an RV when you go camping. Not to worry, the national park has you covered there, too.
With plenty of RV spaces to choose from you can back your rig in and experience the rest of the park at your leisure. Coming home at night to cook a little dinner in your kitchenette, before heading out to watch the night sky fill with stars, is a dream come true for Joshua Tree camping fans.
You are in the desert, after all, and what would be more relaxing than falling asleep under the stars to the lullaby of coyotes and crickets? A true “old West” dream.
Besides the coyotes and crickets, there is a plethora of wildlife to be found lurking around the grounds. Perhaps you like snakes? Rats? Joshua tree has it all.
The daytime creatures include various types of indigenous birds, more than you can count. You will also see ground squirrels and tons of lizards.
It’s at night when the park really comes to life though. As the desert swelling habitants come out of their burrows and hides, you will find snakes, kangaroo rats, and the ever popular coyotes.
Don’t worry though, most of the creatures are used to the humans and don’t bother coming near the campgrounds and fire pits.
EIGHT CAMPGROUNDS TO CHOOSE FROM
As we have touched on before, depending on what you are after, you have your choice of campgrounds. Eight in total dot the national park, and you can take your pick.
In case you are counting that is over 300 total campsites to choose from.
As if you needed a reason to visit, Joshua Tree national park has some of the best camping the Southern California terrain has to offer. It doesn’t matter what you are into, tents, RVs trails, horses, nightlife or rock climbing, you can find it all with a few days Joshua Tree camping.