Climbing and Visiting Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree, California

Joshua Tree National Park is no doubt our favorite desert destination in California. Even more than Death Valley, simply because there’s no climbing in Death Valley 🙂 There’s something about camping or hiking in the desert that feels “clean”. No dead leaves getting stuck to your shoes, or wet boggy terrain to step on, fewer bugs, no trees that get in the way of sunset viewing…

A joshua tree

Rock climbing in Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree is a world known climbing destinations with enough routes for a lifetime of climbing. Quite literally some of the routes are within your campsite, providing shades for your tents, making them routes with the shortest approach, ever!

And since Jack and I love climbing, but do not necessarily love the hiking and dragging all of the climbing equipment, that’s just another reason why we love going to JTree.

We made the arduous 9 hour one-way trip to Joshua Tree for my birthday last year. We had big plans, but there were so many routes we never got any further than our campground in Hidden Valley.

Sexy Grandma -- 5.9
Our friend, J, on 'Sexy Grandma' -- 5.9
The Great Roof, Joshua Tree
Jack on what I'm pretty sure is called 'The Super Roof'
Sunset at Joshua Tree
Sunset at Joshua Tree

For non climbers there are some hiking trails — mostly short ones — and nature trails in the park. One of them takes you through the Cholla Cactus garden and is worth doing during sunset ot sunrise for a chance of catching the cactus thorns glowing in the light creating a very surreal scenery.

Desert blooms -- mikaku
Cholla garden -- by Torben

Stargazing at Joshua Tree

And the night sky at Joshua Tree? It’s incredible!
Due to Joshua trees being somewhat short and stubby, you get an unobstructed view of the night sky. And it’s far enough from the nearest big city that on a clear night it’s guaranteed you’ll see the Milky Way along with about a gazillion stars. Find out more about stargazing in Joshua Tree.

More than once we were tempted to sleep outside of our tents so we can gaze at the night sky while falling asleep. But (unfounded) fear of finding a snake coiling inside our sleeping bags pushed the idea aside each time it came up. Also the last time we were there we were woken up by howling coyotes. There seemed to be two groups of them and they were howling to each other. They sounded so bloody close to our campground.

I love the desert so much my heart hurts.

The 18 hour drive from the Bay Area? Not so much. But we’re masochists… so yeah, we’ll do it again.

Joshua Tree

Tips on visiting Joshua Tree National Park:
– Bring all the water you need. The park does not have water except in few scattered places.
– Fortunately the city is only 20-25 min drive away. It has a big grocery store for your camping supplies.
– There’s a climbing store near the entrance. The prices are decent.
– Be mindful of desert plants and bushes around the rocks. They’re not there for you to dump you pack on and hang your shirts.
The grades are stiff!

For logistic info (campsites, fees, hiking trails, etc), click on the link below:
More info about Joshua Tree National Park

Valuable Resources

  • Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders, for those who love anything weird and offbeat.
  • Resource Toolbox: How I find cheap flights, accommodations, and other travel hacks.

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12 Replies to “Climbing and Visiting Joshua Tree National Park”

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  2. Love this place. I grew up partly in 29 Palms so this was my backyard. Last time I was there was several Thanksgivings ago and camped in the park during a heck of a wind storm that forced me to sleep in the back of my truck. Beautiful place with lots of memories.

  3. We've made plans to visit Joshua Tree so many times… and they've always fallen through! We're going to make it happen at some point, though – the area looks too gorgeous to pass up. But I think we'll stick to the hiking. 😛

  4. Wow I didn't know there's a tree with the name Joshua! And the climb looks so difficult! So steep!Shuddering just looking at your awesome pictures! I'm no climber myself… LOL!

  5. Nice to hear that there are some good hikes for us who don't climb!

    I'd love to be good at climbing, but every time I've tried my body doesn't seem to want to cooperate..

  6. Awesome post!! Such cool photos. We have never been here, but this is now for sure on our *must see* list. That friend of yours climbing, is he wearing a harness or is that a free climb? Man, I suffer from vertigo and I'm nervous just looking at the photo, but so cool!! I need to get over my fear and give climbing a shot.

    Thanks for sharing!

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