Joshua Tree National Park is in southern California near the cities of Joshua Tree and Twenty-Nine Palms. This park is a vast desert landscape with many mountains, unique rock formations, and, of course, lots of Joshua Trees. We spent three days exploring the park mostly by foot.
Parking in the Area
With the use of our old friend freecampsites.net, we were able to locate multiple BLM sites that allow multiple nights of camping. Two of which are located near the north and south entrances to the park (see links below).
California Riding & Hiking Trail
A 37.5 mile section of the California Riding & Hiking Trail stretches across Joshua Tree National Park. Since we have most often found the best way to take in a landscape is by foot, we decided to take a 3 day trek across the park via this awesome trail.
With this being the desert, there are no natural water sources on the trail which means you either have to cache water at various road crossings or carry it with you. We decided to carry our water (My back and legs paid the price!) and the night before the hike, we made our dry meals and packed our backpacks for the trip ahead.
Because the trail is “point to point” and not a loop and we only have one vehicle, we had to park the van at the North Entrance backcountry lot (finish location) and catch an Uber to the Black Rock trail head. Finally, at 11:30 am we started off from Black Rock towards North Entrance on the other end.
When hiked west to east, the first 12 miles of the trail are where most of the elevation differential occurs. We covered a little more than 12 miles the first day and found a mostly flat spot in a valley to stay the night. Day two, getting an earlier start, we completed 16 miles leaving an easy 10 miles to the finish. By noon on the third day we made it back to the van both of us dehydrated, hungry, and with some fresh blisters on our feet.
The trail led us through beautiful desert mountain landscapes and multiple areas lush with the park’s namesake tree. It was definitely a challenge for us amateur backpackers but it was worth it in the end and we gained more experience for future backpacking trips.
The Alltrails link for this trail can be found below.
This park is vast and definitely deserves multiple days to discover all it has to offer. The only regret we have is that we did not partake in any of the world renowned rock climbing this park has to offer. Hopefully, in the future, we will return to explore the park from above on many of its beautiful granite walls.
For more photos from our visit to Joshua Tree National Park, click here!