About Joshua Tree
We visited Joshua Tree on our way from LA to the Grand Canyon and it was the perfect detour to make the drive more interesting. Joshua Tree is perfectly situated being only two hours out of LA and on the way towards Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.
Joshua Tree is one of the more unusual, yet beautiful, places we have been to and one that is often missed by travellers. Joshua Tree, which is approximately 800,000 acres, can appear uninviting as you enter into what looks like a flat, dry desert. However, not long into the drive you will start to see the massive granite rock formations rising out of the ground and, of course, many Joshua Trees, which along with the desert landscape, makes you feel like you on the set of a John Wayne movie.
The cost to enter in the park is currently $15 but there is talk that it will be increased to $25 shortly.
Tip: If you are travelling to the Grand Canyon, Yosemite or any of the other national parks within the USA in the next 12 months it is definitely worth buying an annual pass which will give you access to the majority of Parks within the USA. The total cost of an annual pass is currently $80.
A day in Joshua Tree
The following itinerary is based on our highlights as we drove through the Park on our way from LA to the Grand Canyon. This itinerary is a guide to some of our favourite spots - but some of the best fun we had was just stopping on the side of the road and climbing up the small (sometimes larger) rock formations for views of the park.
Start at the Western Gate, ask for a map at the entrance (free), and slowly drive through the Park along Park Boulevard Road towards the Hidden Valley Nature Trail.
Hidden Valley Nature Trail
The Hidden Valley Nature Trail is approximately 15 minutes (9 miles) from the park entrance and will be on your right. The trail itself is a 1 mile loop and typifies the park with its spectacular rock formations and desert scenery. The walk is simple and not strenuous and is a great place to stop for a picnic. Climb any of the large granite rock stacks for some great views and photos of the Park.
Key Views & The San Andreas Fault Line
To get to Key Views, drive east from the Hidden Valley Nature Trail for about 5 minutes before turning right on Key Views Road; it is all very clearly signed and you can't miss it.
Key Views is the highest point in the park sitting at just over 1,500 metres above sea level and provides amazing views over the San Andreas Fault Line and the surrounding towns; you will also have a view of where the music festival Coachella is held. The most amazing thing is that you can actually see the San Andreas Fault Line, which is literally a deep line in the desert below. The parking lot will give you good views but if you want a better view walk up the steep path to the highest point of the Park.
Drive back along Key Views Road, turn right (west) on Park Boulevard and lookout for the signs to White Tank (#9) Campground. From there, follow a short trail through (what you will now be familiar with) as the typically beautiful granite rock formations.
The hike culminates at the Arch Rock where, after a little bit of climbing, will give you some great photo opportunities under the Arch and have views of the Joshua Tree National Park.
After the hike you can either keep heading west towards Vegas or the Grand Canyon, or turnaround and head back towards LA or San Diego.