Joshua Tree National Park

First-Time Guide to Visiting Joshua Tree National Park

The area encompassing Joshua Tree National Park first became protected under the designation of Joshua Tree National Monument in August of 1936. This was in large part due to the conservation efforts Minerva Hoyt, a resident desert landscape enthusiast. In October of 1994, Joshua Tree was granted its national park status under the Desert Protection Bill. The park spans 702,623 acres, including 591,624 acres of designated wilderness.

Pass Information for Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. To enter the park, you will need to pay for a pass either in-person at an entrance station or visitor center, or in advance online at Passes are all valid for seven days, and their costs vary depending on how you choose to enter the national park:


  • Private Vehicle Pass = $30
  • Motorcycle Pass = $25
  • Individual Pass = $15

You can also purchase a Joshua Tree Annual Pass for $55 that grants you entry for one year from month of purchase. America the Beautiful Passes ($80) are also valid for entry, and they are available for purchase at entrance stations or in any one of the Joshua Tree visitor centers.


Finally, there are multiple days spread throughout the year where you are free to enter the national park without a pass. To see Joshua Tree’s Free Entrance Days, head to their website’s Fees & Passes page.


Popular Activities at Joshua Tree National Park


Hiking is by far the most popular activity at Joshua Tree National Park. There are 32 trailheads and 191 miles of hiking trails spread across the park. When hiking at Joshua Tree it’s important to plan ahead and prepare no matter how short or long your hike(s) will be. Always pack hiking essentials like water, food, and sun protection, and let other people know where you’ll be hiking as well as when you plan to return.


Pets are not allowed on hiking trails in Joshua Tree National Park except for the paved Oasis of Mara Trail. So, if you want to explore the park’s best trails, plan to leave your furry friend at home.


Some of the most iconic landscape imagery to come out California and the American Southwest is from Joshua Tree National Park. Especially during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset, the desert wilderness here is a photographer’s heaven. And, the stargazing opportunities allow for some incredible Milky Way and star-trail photography.


Anyone will be more than capable of capturing great shots in the park on their own. However, those looking to snap some extra special landscape photos at Joshua Tree should consider signing up for one of the many available photo workshops.


Looking for a place to get crystal clear views of the Milky Way? This is certifiably one of the best places in the world to do so as Joshua Tree is recognized as an International Dark Sky Park. The night skies here are among darkes and clearest in the world, offering up spectacular nighttime views.


LOCAL TIP: At night when the entrance points aren’t staffed, the gates are still open for anyone to come and go during the night hours. Perfect for stargazers!


In addition to hiking, Joshua Tree is renowned as a world-class climbing destination. The area’s high-desert monzogranite rock makes for exceptional crack, slab, and steep face climbing. Within the national park there are over 8,000 climbing routes and over 2,000 boulder problems you can get a grip and scamper over. 

For more detailed information such as recommended hiking trails to check out in the national park, head over to our Outdoor Activities page. Also, make sure to reserve your ideal Joshua Tree vacation by booking a stay in one of our Desert Beacon vacation rentals!