Camping inside Joshua Tree National Park is possible, but difficult. During the Joshua Tree rock climbing season, all campsites inside the park become full, roughly Thursday through Sunday. The majority of the campsites are first-come-first-served, with no way to reserve ahead of time. The exception is the Indian Cove campground, which has rock climbing and is also possible to reserve campsites (although often full!) Inside the park, no campgrounds have running water or any services besides outhouse-style toilets.
There are campgrounds outside Joshua Tree National Park which are a good bet when things are full in the park.
In the park:
Camping inside Joshua Tree National Park: During the busy season, from October through April, finding camping in Joshua Tree can be a daunting task. The few campgrounds that take reservations are quickly booked, and the first-come-first-served campsites are often all taken up before the start of every weekend or holiday. Indeed, in order to get one of the campsites in Joshua Tree National Park during the busy season, one needs to plan well in advance or show up early. For people who are unable to plan far in advance or unable to show up early on Friday morning or even Thursday night to book a campsite for the weekend, there are a few other options available.
Backcountry Camping: If you prepare and are willing to hike, unlimited free camping is available inside Joshua Tree National Park. Carefully follow the backcountry rules posted here. Remember, you will have to hike all of your food, water and camp supplies at least 1 mile from the road for this to work.
Overflow Camping: Areas north and south of Joshua Tree National Park are scattered with BLM land where “overflow camping” is available. The National Park service has drawn out some maps and made these easy to locate online or in the Joshua Tree National Park visitor centers. However, during busy holiday weekends, you may even find these overflow camp areas full.
Private Camping: Outside of the national park, in the city of Joshua Tree, there is a private campground called Joshua Tree Lake RV and Campground which can accommodate RVs and tent camping. Tent camping is first-come-first-served. This campground is especially close to the Indian Cove sector of Joshua Tree National Park, which has great rock climbing and warmer temperatures during the cold winter months.
Hotels, Motels and AirBnB: Other options to consider are the local motels or AirBnbs. It’s possible to find some affordably priced rooms, especially if you are willing to share with other people. Some of these Airbnbs are houses in remote areas, often more quiet and peaceful than the campgrounds in and around Joshua Tree National Park. When looking for these accommodations, remember that you don’t need to limit your search to Joshua Tree. The neighboring towns of Yucca Valley and Twentynine Palms also border Joshua Tree National Park’s entrances.
Concerns: Whether you decide to camp out in the desert or book a room nearby, remember that you are visiting an ecosystem with endangered plants. Yuccas (Joshua Trees included) are still being studied and take ages to get established. When trekking around the Mojave Desert, try to stay on trails, rocky surfaces, or washes to avoid destroying the fragile cryptobiotic net that holds the topsoil down. And if you are camping, take a minute to become familiar with Leave No Trace principles for camping in the Mojave Desert. Good luck planning your perfect getaway to Joshua Tree National Park. And, enjoy the unique landscape of the Mojave Desert!
Outside the park:
ROCK CLIMBING GUIDES
Joshua Tree Lake, RV & Campgroundis a private campground located in North Joshua Tree city (not in the park). It has good amenities, such as water, showers, toilets, etc.
Harmony Motel in Twentynine Palms. Rooms in the $75-$100 range, some with kitchenettes. Pool, hot tub, outdoor patios, free Wi-Fi.
Joshua Tree National Park Camping
Other Accommodations in Joshua Tree
Free Camping Officially recommended by Joshua Tree National Park as overflow camping, there are some areas (usually BLM land) that are free of charge and are never full. Don't expect any amenities at all!
Spin and Margie's Desert Hide-A-Way in Joshua Tree city. Rooms in the $145-$185 range. Good location near the west entrance to Joshua Tree National Park.
Many of our clients choose to stay in the Palm Springs area. While a longer drive (about 1 hour), the greater value and quality of these resorts and hotels are an attractive alternative to the local Joshua Tree hotels. Located almost 3000 feet lower than Joshua Tree National Park, the Palm Springs area is considerably warmer than Joshua Tree national Park. During the cold winter months when rock climbing in Joshua Tree with a winter jacket, you could be lounging in a t-shirt at your Palm Springs resort only 1 hour later!
Stone Adventures - Rock Climbing Guides in Joshua Tree and International © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 2017.