Joshua Tree Travel Guide: What To See And Do In One Day

Joshua Tree National Park is 790,636 acres — which is larger than the state of Rhode Island. So, you could explore this park forever. But, assuming you don't have forever, we're going to talk about the best things to see in Joshua Tree in one day. And most importantly— what are the best photo spots. Let me just warn you, it'll blow your mind. It's like being on another planet. Also, Joshua Tree = Yucca Valley. Joshua trees are technically Yucca trees, in case that has confused you already in your research.

Before heading out:

  • Make sure your car has a full tank of gas
  • Bring lots of water and snacks (absolutely nothing around the park)
  • Know that you won't get phone reception once you enter, but make sure it's charged for photos
  • Wear hiking boots or tennis shoes — if you plan on walking around, the ground is dirty, dusty, and full of cacti
  • If traveling in the winter— be aware it can get very cold and windy so being layers! 

Upon entering the park, you'll pay a fee — it's only $15 for a 7-day pass. They'll give you a map with all the "main" attractions. You should enter at the North or West entrance.

Hidden Valley

There's actually a campground across the street with those quintessential boulders and Joshua trees that the park is known for. They are easy climbing and great for pictures. There's also a bathroom here!

If you want to take a short hike, the Hidden Valley Nature Hike located right there. It's a one-mile loop surrounded by tall boulders and great climbing rocks. It is a very easy hike— perfect for non-athletic types, like me.


Arch Rock

 This is one of the main attractions in Joshua Tree Park and located in the White Tank Campground. There's also an easy 1 mile hike you can take here. I don't have any pictures of Arch Rock, so here's a lovely substitute. 

Cholla Cactus Garden

There's no other way to describe this but it's an oasis of cholla cacti in the middle of the park. All the sudden, there's just cholla as far as the eye can see at the base of these massive mountain ranges surrounding you. 

There are also walking paths everywhere— and it's one of the most peaceful walks, probably ever. It's so quiet and beautiful.

Keys View

If you don't head to Key's View to watch a sunset, I'll never speak to you again. I realize that might not be a very severe threat to those of you whom I've never spoken to, but you still need to take this seriously. It’s also the MOST Instagramable spot ever.

It's a 20 minute drive from the Park Blvd entrance, so be sure to plan enough time. Once you get there, there's no hiking involved [YAY]— it's just a lookout area. It over looks like 1,700 mountain ranges (slight exaggeration), Coachella Valley, the Salton Sea, the San Andreas Fault, the San Jacinto Peak, Santa Rosa mountains, and the snow covered San Gorgonio Mountain. In clear weather, you could see Signal Mountain in Mexico. I mean, it's a massively amazing view and great photo opportunity.

You almost feel like you could reach out and touch the sun. It's incredible.

And then you need to put on a driving-through-the-desert-at-twilight playlist, and stick around until the sky turns red.

Where To Stay

I highly suggest finding an AirBnb IN Joshua Tree (which means it's right outside the park). Waking up to a sunrise in the hi-desert is nothing short of extraordinary! It will be one of the most peaceful moments you've ever experienced.

If you're looking for some good eats (gluten free or not) check out my guide for Gluten Free Eating In Joshua Tree, California!

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