Named after the beautiful succulent that serves as the “tree of the desert,” Joshua Tree National Park is the place to go to get your hands-on experience with nature. The park is a little over two hours from Los Angeles, making it perfect for an adventurous day-trip, a weekend getaway or even a memorable backpacking trip. The point is you can make it your own.
For the hikers, nature trails like the Hidden Valley and Discovery trails guide you through boulders, unique rock formations, Joshua trees and other native desert species. Though most short trails at Joshua Tree are a mile or so long, they are completely customizable because of all the rock formations along the way. You will catch multiple people challenging themselves by bouldering or just going out of their way to have fun on the rocks and be a kid again. The way some rocks are stacked almost makes them like stairs or stepping stones to the top.
The flat landscape of Joshua Tree also makes backcountry hiking very popular, especially along the popular “Boy Scout Trail.” These routes are much longer and require proper backpacking equipment but are incredibly rewarding for those that are up for it. Don’t let the desert terrain fool you; these trails lead you to beautiful viewpoints that overlook the San Andreas fault, Salton Sea and Mount San Jacinto.
You also will not be able to enter Joshua Tree without seeing some rock climbers trying to free climb or even free solo the towering rock formations. The proximity of all these steep arrangements as well as their abundance makes this national park a popular spot for climbers. If you are an avid climber, you could probably get multiple routes in in a day. For beginners, you will definitely need an expert with you, but luckily, the county around the park offers multiple climbing schools for those who want to learn.
For those who want a more laid-back experience with nature, Joshua Tree has multiple roads all throughout the park that will take you to noteworthy sights like Skull Rock, Barker Dam and most of the viewpoints the park has to offer. There are also parking lots across the park to make access to these points easier by car. Basically, if you want to, you can still experience the entire beauty of the park by just driving through.
The best part of Joshua Tree is how customizable the experience is. It truly is for everybody.