Joshua Tree National Park has more than 1.25 million visitors each year. With two deserts, two ecosystems, fascinating geological landmarks, and diverse plant and wildlife, there are few desert landscapes more exciting to experience.
The park is split between the two main ecosystems, primarily differentiated by high and low desert. The Colorado Desert sets the scene for the low terrain. Located in the eastern part of the park, this area is dotted with creosote bush, a sparse, dry plant. Here you see flat desert land for miles, bordered by jagged mountain terrain and rock faces.
The Mojave Desert is the high ecosystem, and provides most of the splendor curious travelers come to see. It is slightly cooler in this area, and you'll find groves of Joshua Trees in all different shapes and sizes. Named by Mormon pioneers, the trees are said to mimic the outstretched arms of Joshua leading them to the promised land.
From brilliant spring vegetation to larger than life boulders, here's what Joshua Tree National Park has in store for your next camping trip.
Where to Camp
There are nine campgrounds in the Joshua Tree park, all of which have a unique character. The following three are some of the most popular.
Cottonwood: Perfect for a family reunion camping trip or group outing, this campground is wide open and has three large campsites. With desert sun high in the sky, you'll find respite in the shade of built-in shelters between hiking and explorations. The campground is located in the eastern part of the park, about 25 miles from many of the Joshua Tree attractions. There's a water spicket, though it's recommended that you bring all your own drinking water.
Hidden Valley Campground: Located in the heart of the Mojave Desert, this campground is surrounded by massive boulders with groves of Joshua Trees in plain site. Just minutes away from Jumbo Rock, this is a great place for families to stay. There is no shade provided, so be prepared and bring a pop-up shelter of your own.
Indian Cove: Just off the Western entrance, this campground is surrounded by majestic rock formations making it the perfect campground for climbers. It's first-come, first-serve, and one of the only campgrounds open in the winter season, the busiest time of year for the park. This campground is closest to the nearby town, making it easier to grab something if you forgot to pack it.