Camping in Joshua Tree: When to Go & Best Campgrounds

You’ve found the right place if you’re looking for a campsite to stay in Joshua Tree National Park if you’re planning on an overnight trip. Although Joshua Tree has many wonderful campgrounds, it’s not possible to find one that suits all.

Joshua Tree National Park, located in southern California, is just an hour from Los Angeles and Las Vegas. It is known for its unique trees, hiking trails, dark skies, interesting rock formations, and amazing hiking trails.

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Many people come to the Mojave Desert to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. But it is truly a paradise for hikers, photographers, or anyone simply looking to take a break from their daily lives.

This essential guide will show you how to camp in Joshua Tree, where to stay, what to do, and other details.

  • How to get to Joshua Tree

You will need to travel to a major city to reach Joshua Tree National Park. Palm Springs International Airport is 50 miles from the park, while Los Angeles International Airport is 143 miles away and Las Vegas International Airport is 182 miles.

Once you have landed in these cities, you will need to rent a vehicle. Although public transportation is available in the area, it is limited and there is no shuttle service to the park. It is worth renting a car at the airport, and then driving to Joshua Tree via Interstate 10/California Highway 62.

How many days do I need?

Although you can see Joshua Tree National Park’s highlights easily in one day, I recommend spending at least two days if you plan to hike or explore more off-road areas.

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If you are coming to Joshua Tree for a mental vacation, there is no limit on how long you can stay.

  • Joshua Tree Camp Sites

Joshua Tree’s shoulder seasons are the best — March through May, September through November. Summers can get very hot, so bring your heater and electricity. Winter can be quite cold if you don’t have electricity.

However, Joshua Tree is busiest between November and May so make sure to book your campsite in advance if you wish to be guaranteed a spot.

Can you camp in Joshua Tree without a reservation?

You can book most of the 500 campsites in Joshua Tree National Park online at up to six months ahead. Some campsites are very popular so it is a good idea to book ahead. You should also remember that not all parks have cell phone service so you shouldn’t book your campsite on the spot.

Hidden Valley, Belle and White Tank are the only campgrounds at Joshua Tree where reservations don’t have to be made. These campgrounds are available to all, and payment can be made at the gate. These sites can be jammed during peak season, particularly weekends. So plan your visit to arrive early in the week.

Which Joshua Tree Campground is the Best?

There are many hotels and other accommodation options in the area, but if you plan to spend the night in the park, you will need to book a campsite. There are nine great campgrounds within the park. My favorites include Hidden Valley, Indian Cove and Jumbo Rocks, but they are often very popular.

The type of camping you want will determine which campground you choose. These are the things you can expect from each one.

  • Jumbo Rocks Campground

Jumbo Rocks Campground has 124 campsites and is the largest area of Joshua Tree camping. You can climb large boulders here, and Skull Rock is only a short walk away. There are no potable water or electricity at this location. However, there are fire rings, toilets and picnic tables.

  • Hidden Valley Campground

Hidden Valley Campground, which is open all year, offers 44 campsites with pit toilets and no potable water. You can park your RV here provided it doesn’t exceed 25ft. Fees must be paid at the entry station upon arrival.

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It’s a very popular campground due to its central location and easy access to most sites. If you plan to travel during peak season, you will need to arrive at the right time in order to secure a site.

  • White Tank Campground

White Tank, one of the smallest Joshua Tree campgrounds, is home to only 15 sites. This campground is perfect for those who want a quiet escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It is also located right next to Arch Rock Nature Trail. Sites here are first-come-first-served and don’t provide electrical hookups or water.

  • Sheep Pass Campground

Sheep Pass Campground is home to six group camping areas. This campground should be considered if you are looking for accommodation for between 10-60 people. The campground does have vault toilets and trash pickup but no electricity or potable drinking water.

  • Belle Campground

Belle Campground has 18 campsites and is open from October to May. It is the perfect place if you are looking for a quiet retreat. It is close to Pinto Basin, the Sonoran Desert, and offers pit toilets and campfire rings as well as picnic tables. It does not have electricity or potable water.

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  • Ryan Campground

Ryan Campground has 31 campsites near the California Riding & Hiking Trail. It fills up quickly. Reservations are required, but there are fire pits and vault toilets. There is also a picnic table. These sites are not equipped with electricity and do not have water.