Is it your first time visiting Joshua Tree National Park? Would you like to know the best things to see and the most popular attractions in the park? If you only have a day or maybe you’re lucky enough to have a whole weekend you’re going to want to make sure you get the most out of your time here. So I went ahead and put together my Top 5 Things To See In Joshua Tree National Park. This way you won’t miss out on a thing!
Cholla Cactus Garden
No visit to Joshua Tree National Park is complete without a trip to the famous Cholla Cactus Garden. It’s a fan favorite and most popular at sunrise and sunset. I have a complete quide to the cactus garden here. Remember to wear closed toed shoes and these lil guys love to hitch a ride and try to go home with you. Also keep a close eye on your kids, so they don’t run though the fields of cacti. You have no idea how painful these cacti can be, you don’t want them jumping on you!
The name says it all. Just a short walk from the main road running though Joshua Tree National Park and you are faced with this very peculiar rock. It actually looks like a large skull! It’s a very short walk to the actual rock, but you can also do some hiking here if you’d like. There are signs for it’s location and you can also use the map (that you receive when entering the park) to help you locate the exact point! You’ll usually notice a lot of cars pulled off and parked on the side of the road and crosswalks all on a sudden in the road. You know then that you have reached Skull Rock.
This easy and short hike has some outstanding rewards. You can start the hike at the White Tank Campground which is on the way to Keys View so you can hit both of these up at the same time. (Keys View is #3 on the list, read below.) The trail is only .5 miles and pretty easy. You’ll see a lot of boulder formations on the hike and the best for last in the amazing arch rock. Make sure to take a both of pictures and have fun exploring this beautiful rock in the shape of an arch.
Looking for the best views in the park. Look no further than Keys View. A favorite sunset spot. If you want to watch the sunset here I recommend to get here early to grab your favorite spot, it gets crowded. The best part about this lookout point is that it’s accessible to all. With a paved .25 mile trail with benches along the way you can enjoy views of the San Andreas fault, Mt. San Jacinto, Mt. San Gorgonio and the Salton Sea.
To get here just travel up Keys View Road, off the main road in Joshua Tree National Park (Park Boulevard). You’ll drive for about 15-20 minutes till the road dead ends into the Keys View parking lot so there really is no way to get lost. Sometimes the view may not be the best because of smog, but believe me it’s worth a trip back later in the day or the next if you don’t get the beautiful view you’re looking for. Here is my full post for navigating Keys View.
Barker Dam is a very popular place in the park. The trail is populated with a lot of visitors but with good reason. You see so much of what the park has to offer and even get a bit of a history lesson. This is my last pick for things you MUST do when visiting the park. You’ll want to take the 1.1 mile loop trail in which you visit the dam, see vast open lands with Joshua Trees, a portion with large boulders, and petroglyphs. So much right!
The dam was created in the early 1900’s by the cattle ranchers in the region. If you are lucky enough to see the dam after it rains you’ll be able to get some fantastic pics and enjoy the reflection of the boulders off the water. Joshua Tree dwellers also come here to get a bit to drink. So you may be lucky enough to see a variety of birds and even bighorn sheep. Check out my full post on visiting Barker Dam.
Enjoy your time at Joshua Tree National Park. Adventure Awaits!