Remember, It's a Desert!

When is the Best Time/Season to Hike?


    • Fall / Winter / Spring

    • Avoid Summer hikes! Days are very hot! And it is dangerous to go for 'morning hikes' in the park because once the sun rises, it gets very hot, very quickly. Evening hikes are best - in the moonlight.

  • TIME OF DAY - Fall / Winter / Spring

    • Early in the Morning
      Get up well before the sun rises, watch the desert be illuminated...
      ...and you just might spot some Coyotes!

    • Sunset/Twilight
      This time lingers for a few hours.
      It's a great time for taking twilight photos.

    • In the Dark (In winter it is dark at 6pm!)
      Try it! This is one of the best times to explore.
      And if the moon is up, you won't need a headlamp.

    • During the Mid Day
      This is only appropriate during the Fall/Winter/Spring months.
      It's too hot in the summer months.


Hidden Valley
1 mile loop

This classic hike is located in the 'Center' of the park, so the road signs will direct you there. 

barker dam - in february 2019 with some snow!

Barker Dam
1.3 mile loop

There is a good chance you will see wildlife on this hike. It's a good hike, especially after a big rain when the dam is full. 

Lost Horse Mine
6.2 mile loop

This popular trail takes you into an old mining area of the park. 

Willow Hole
Wonderland of Rocks

7 miles

This is a classic hike in the park which takes you thru the Wonderland of Rocks area - it's known for its views and wildflowers!

Ryan Mountain
3 miles
1000 elevation change

This is a popular hike which takes you to the top of the central peak in the park. Great for Sunrise or Sunset! 


Arch Rock
White Tank Campgrounds
.5 miles

Arch Rock is in the White Tank Campground. If you feel like exploring further, there are a ton of trails behind Arch Rock that lead up the hill. In the spring, this is one of my favorite Wildflower locations. At night, this is a very popular spot for Astro-Photographers!

skull rock.jpg

Skull Rock
Jumbo Rocks Campgrounds
.25 miles

Skull rock is right near the road - so this is a super simple destination - day or night? And a great place to take photos.

Cholla Cactus Gardens
.5 miles

Cholla Cactus are also referred to as “Jumping Cactus” - that is because if you walk past them too close - they appear to jump onto your clothes (or skin) and they are very hard to get off (hint: use a fork!).
The Cholla Cactus Gardens are out on the east side of the park - closer to the Cottonwood entrance. This is a great place for sunrise and sunset photography - and nighttime photography as well.


Cap Rock
1 mile Loop

Cap Rock is an amazing rock formation. It is on the Keys View Road. There is usually plenty of free parking. Follow the loop around the rocks. There are many informative signs along with way to teach you about the desert. Enjoy!

Here's a link to more
Joshua Tree National Park Maps

There's an App for that!

It's Free. We've listed some of our favorite hikes, but we want you to be able to make those decisions for yourself. AllTrails has a comprehensive crowd-sourced site (and app) which lists all of the hikes in Joshua Tree (with recent reviews) - and did we mention that it's free. 

AllTrails - Joshua Tree Trails 

AllTrails - iPhone/iPad Apps