Joshua Tree National Park is known for its gorgeous desert landscapes. This breathtaking expanse of nature does mean it is more on the remote side, which might leave you wondering how to best visit the park. Taking a few days to explore the area is pretty common, especially since the park is a few hours away from the closest big city. This article looks at five options for areas to stay in while visiting Joshua Tree – two nearby towns and three of the larger campgrounds -, as well as some of the pros and cons of each. It should be noted that there are no hotels inside the park itself – though camping is an option.
1. Joshua Tree (The Town)
This first option looks at one of the towns sitting nearby the park – Joshua Tree is not only the name of the National Park but also the name of a small nearby town. Only a few minutes from the west entrance, this town is noted to have an artsy and boho vibe. Joshua Tree is noticeably a rustic town with an emphasis on eco-friendliness and supporting small businesses. It’s home to a farmer’s market, a yoga studio, and a couple of spas. There are also several local hotels as well as Airbnb’s in the area. For example, Joshua Tree Inn, a historic motel from the late 1940s, is a popular lodging option in this town.
2. Twentynine Palms
Twentynine Palms is a second great option if you’re looking to stay outside the park, but still be as close as possible. Sitting at the north entrance, you’ll only be a couple of minutes away from the park. While it does still have some artsy attractions, it’s overall more commercialized than the town Joshua Tree. You won’t have any trouble finding some recognizable stops such as Starbucks or Papa John’s Pizza, as well as chain lodging options like Holiday Inn. Depending on what you’re looking for out of your trip, this can be a downside or a perk. Those looking for a less rustic, more modern home base to return to may favor this town over Joshua Tree, while those more interested in getting away from it all might find Joshua Tree preferable.
3. Black Rock Campground
If you’re looking to stay inside the park, camping is currently the only way to do so. Campsites in Joshua Tree vary from more developed options with amenities to backcountry sites. If you’re looking for a spot to camp that does have more amenities, consider Black Rock Campground. This campground offers nearby restrooms, potable water, and is only five miles away from Yucca Valley. Additionally, it generally has cell phone reception. This makes it a great option for those looking to be closer to civilization or not have to be entirely self-sufficient on vacation. There are site options for both tent camping as well as RVs. Black Rock does require reservations and charges a fee of $25 a night.
4. Jumbo Rocks Campground
Jumbo Rocks Campground is a great option for those looking for a more remote, rustic camping experience. It sits in the middle of some gorgeous rock formations. It should be noted that the facilities at this campground at very limited – it doesn’t offer potable water and restrooms consist of vault toilets. Additionally, there isn’t much cell phone reception in the area. These can all be both pros and cons, depending on your preferred trip. If you’re looking to “rough it” and really get away from modern life, Jumbo Rocks is an excellent campground to do so at. Like Black Rock, reservations are required.
5. Hidden Valley Campground
Another option for camping inside the park looks at one of the few “first come, first serve” campgrounds. Staying in or near Joshua Tree is typically going to require planning ahead of time, but campsites such as Hidden Valley do offer the possibility of last-minute plan changes or a spontaneous camping trip. Hidden Valley has 44 campsites that can fill up quickly in the busy season (typically September through May), so if you are aiming to get one, get there as early as possible. The site charges $15 a night and must be pre-paid at one of the entrance stations to the park.
It’s probably a good idea to have a backup plan if you do try to stay at one of the first-come, first-serve grounds, as lodging in the nearby towns may also fill up quickly during the busy season. A couple of possible options are to drive over to Palm Springs (about 50 minutes away) as there are many more lodging options there. This can get expensive, especially if you’re looking for a last-minute room. Another option is to look into camping on BLM land outside of the park. If you’re visiting during the summer, you will have to brave hotter temperatures, but this will be a less likely issue.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com