Joshua Tree National Park is a gorgeous place to plan a trip to in the winter! Some of the perks of a winter trip include smaller crowds, cooler weather, and plenty of opportunities for making memories. If you are planning a trip, here are 7 tips for the most enjoyable time possible!
1. Plan Lodging
Joshua Tree National Park differs slightly from some of the more northern national parks in that the majority of the park, as well as surrounding towns, are open year-round! This means you’ll have plenty of choices for where you want to stay. Options include a campground inside the park, such as Black Rock campground, or a hotel or Airbnb in the surrounding areas, such as Joshua Tree Inn. If you do plan on camping, the majority of the campgrounds accept reservations. Making a reservation is a great choice even if you’re visiting in a slower month to make sure you’ll get a spot in your desired campground! Additionally, you may want to take weather into consideration – bringing us to our next tip!
2. Be Ready For Chilly Nights
One of the perks of visiting Joshua Tree National Park in the winter is milder daytime temperatures. Highs in the colder months generally stay in the 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit range – perfect for hiking with little more than a light jacket needed for warmth. Nights, however, can get quite chilly – cold enough that the park will occasionally get a light dusting of snow. If you are staying overnight in the park, you’ll want to make sure you have the needed gear, such as sleeping bags, coats, and so on.
3. Plan A Hike
Hiking is an especially great option for experiencing Joshua Tree, and winter is the perfect time to do it! While temperatures regularly soar past 100 in the summer months – far less than ideal for outdoor activities- you can look forward to mild daytime conditions in the winter. A couple hikes you’ll want to check out include Mastodon Peak Loop Trail for a short excursion or Lost Palms Oasis Trail for a longer hike.
4. Be Ready For The Remoteness
Another thing to keep in mind is that Joshua Tree is pretty remote. While the amenities offered are generally open year-round, there aren’t a ton of them. Cell reception, for example, can be spotty at best in many areas of the park. This means you’ll likely want to make sure to download any directions or maps you’ll need (or even print out a copy for an added level of assurance). Additionally, Joshua Tree is cooler jn the winter, but it’s still a desert – there aren’t too many places to find water. You’ll want to make sure you bring plenty of water to stay hydrated, as well as snacks to keep your energy up!
5. Choosing A Pass
If you’re just visiting the park for a spur-of-the-moment day trip, purchasing the daily pass isn’t a bad idea. However, if you plan on visiting Joshua Tree – or any other national park – over the course of the year, the interagency annual pass quickly pays for itself. It’s only a few dollars more than an annual pass for a single national park but allows access to all of them across the United States.
6. Go On A Guided Tour
A guided tour of Joshua Tree is a great way to have a fun, educational, and memorable time in the park! Several unique tours are offered in the area. A trail ride, for example, can offer a unique experience as well as a great way of exploring the park. If you have horses of your own, a couple of campgrounds including Black Rock campground and Ryan campgrounds. If not, several nearby ranches, such as Joshua Tree Ranch, offer trail rides. Ranger programs such as the Keys Ranch Tour, meanwhile, provide insight into the history of sites in the park.
7. Plan B
Finally, having a solid plan for all aspects of your trip – lodging, maps, activities, and so on – is a great way to assure you’ll have an enjoyable time in Joshua Tree. However, even the best-laid plans can run into road bumps. Our final tip, then, is to add a little wiggle room to your plans – maybe even have a backup plan or two. If it ends up being a rare rainy day in the park, for example, you could always swap out a hike for a visit to the towns of Joshua Tree or Twentynine Palms. If you lose reception, meanwhile, having a printed copy of directions to your destination (or of your trail) will get you back on course in no time!
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