This post is in partnership with Hotels.com.
Are you ready to enjoy a weekend trip to leave the hustle and bustle of city life behind? If you are a SoCal local or perhaps want to experience a short getaway to this area of California, taking a road trip from Los Angeles to Joshua Tree National Park to experience the inherent beauty of one of the most spectacular and distinctive landscapes in the US is definitely an appealing thought. From the eclectic cuisine options and the celebrity lifestyle of Hollywood, taking a short two-hour drive to one of California’s nine national parks couldn’t be further from life in the city.
The beauty of visiting Joshua Tree for an epic weekend getaway is that you can experience the short drive from LA and then simply enjoy a relaxing break in a breathtaking unique landscape unlike anywhere else in the Golden State (or even across the United States). Whether you are inspired to take one of the best hiking trails in Joshua Tree or perhaps want to just enjoy the scenic drive admiring the myriad of panoramic landscapes, a trip to this national park is a must for anyone that wants a little more adventure in their life.
A JOSHUA TREE IS A FORM OF A YUCCA THAT GROWS AS A TREE AND HAS CLUSTERS OF SPIKY LEAVES, NATIVE TO ARID REGIONS OF SOUTHWESTERN NORTH AMERICA.
Let’s take a look at why Joshua Tree should be on everyone’s radar when planning a trip around Southern California.
How to Get from Los Angeles to Joshua Tree
While Los Angeles will undoubtedly capture the attention of visitors flying into LAX, we are convinced that after reading this post you will be inspired to at least spend a few days away from city life and explore the beauty that Joshua Tree National Park offers. If you fly into LAX and get a rental car, the trip to Joshua Tree is a little over two hours dependent on traffic getting away from LA.
Whether you choose to take I-10 or California State Route 60, there are plenty of places to visit along this route if you need a little more retail therapy or perhaps want to grab a bite to eat before heading into one of California’s iconic national parks. From Pomona to Riverside and a plethora of smaller California towns, this route is full of distractions that could arguably take your focus away from getting to Joshua Tree as quickly as possible.
However, the moment you drive through the entrance to Joshua Tree and start seeing the spectacular landscapes on display, you will quickly forget about urban living and understand why this park attracts almost 3 million visitors every year. At the turn of the 21st century, 1.3 million visitors on average heading through the entrance to explore Joshua Tree and you can see that since then, the number has exploded with more and more folks intrigued by the prospect of experiencing this unique landscape.
Where to Stay Around Joshua Tree
Visitors to Joshua Tree can certainly experience the natural beauty on offer during a day trip, similar to how we previously did during our first visit to this national park. However, if you want to truly appreciate the abundance of natural features and epic landscapes, you will likely want to spend a few days in and around the vicinity of the park.
Plenty of budget friendly and luxury accommodation options are available, ranging from local motel establishments to recognized hotel chains. After a long day hiking around the national park, you will be ready for a little relaxation and a bite to eat in the nearby town of Desert Hot Springs or even a little further afield in Indio.
Miracle Springs Resort and Spa offers the perfect spot to enjoy a late evening sunset while indulging in a few aperitifs before enjoying dinner in one of the many local establishments in Desert Hot Springs.
Hiking Trails Around Joshua Tree
With 794,000 acres intersecting the Mojave and Colorado deserts, it’s likely no surprise that there is a lot of landscape to explore and what better way to do this than by wearing your favorite hiking shoes and experiencing the collection of awesome trails.
IMPORTANT - Before highlighting some of the iconic spots worth visiting, it's worth remembering that Joshua Tree is like many other national parks and has an abundance of isolated, remote spots, so always be prepared with plenty of food, water and let folks know if you are heading out on a longer hike.
While the list of hiking trails is far longer than we will cover, here are some of the best areas to experience the true beauty of Joshua Tree National Park.
- Ryan Mountain Trail
- Warren Peak Trail
- Hidden Valley Trail
- Cholla Cactus Garden Trail
- Skull Rock Trail
One of the most popular hikes in Joshua Tree is Ryan Mountain Trail. At approximately 3 miles in distance, this moderately difficult trail will take anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 hours dependent on fitness levels and desire to take pictures along the route. Hikers are given the opportunity to rise to the summit of Ryan Mountain, where breathtaking panoramas across San Jacinto, San Gorgonio, and Pleasant Valleys await.
The Cholla Cactus Garden Trail is perhaps the most unique of the aforementioned recommendations. While it is only short at just over a quarter of a mile, this weird yet wonderful trail leads visitors through some of the most lethal cacti in this national park. They may be small but they certainly pack a punch and we highly recommend refraining from touching these!
Skull Rock is one of the most iconic landmarks throughout Joshua Tree, primarily because it’s such a unique geological feature that epitomizes the shape of a skull. It is also one of the easiest for all visitors to be able to experience with a short trail leading to this landmark.
Scenic National Park Drive
There are three park entrances to Joshua Tree at the North, South and West entrance. Regardless of where you start your adventure, the drives through this national park are incredible and it won’t be long before you are spotting those iconic “Joshua” trees.
If you are not feeling energetic enough to experience some of those lengthy hikes, the beauty of Joshua Tree is that you can enjoy an equally spectacular experience by simply following the drive through the park. There are numerous spots where you will likely want to pull over and capture some of those infamous Joshua tree pictures but like many other national parks, this is one you can appreciate from the comfort of your vehicle.
Joshua Tree National Park may not have the same reputation as some of the more infamous parks around the US such as Yellowstone, Yosemite or the Grand Canyon. However, if you are planning a trip to Southern California or you are a SoCal local, you should certainly consider heading over to Joshua Tree to appreciate the natural landscape that makes this such a unique part of the country.
With this park being only 2 hours away from Los Angeles, it’s fair to say that this epitomizes the perfect weekend getaway if you are ready to get away from city life and just enjoy the true beauty of nature! We cannot wait to return to Joshua Tree and hope you are inspired to check out one of America’s most spectacular natural landscapes.
As travel today remains uncertain, please keep your safety and the safety of others in mind at all times. If you are comfortable with traveling, please travel responsibly and within regulation as any travel is at your own risk.
If you do decide to travel at this time, we strongly encourage you to follow our following recommendations:
- Wear a face mask.
- Bring hand sanitizer and wash your hands on a regular basis.
- Check official websites before your trip for the latest updates on policies, closures and status of local businesses.
- Book a hotel with free cancellation in case you need to change your plans at the last minute.