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7 Best Things to Do at Joshua Tree

things to do joshua tree

Updated: Feb 27th, 2022

I started traveling as a little girl, and throughout my childhood my parents took me to see many cool natural wonders – the Niagara Falls in Canada, the Luray Caverns in Virginia, and Mt. Fuji in Japan. But to this day, my trip to Joshua Tree is still one of the most mesmerizing and unforgettable. The desert town looks straight out of a movie and there are so many cool things to do in Joshua Tree.

1. Wander Around in the Cholla Cactus Garden

cholla cactus garden joshua tree
Cholla Cactus Garden

Arguably one of the most picturesque spots in Joshua Tree, the Cholla Cactus Garden trail is a nearly 10-acre landscape filled with teddybear cholla. The teddybear cholla is only about 2 to 4-feet tall, and the trail is an easy, flat stroll throughout.

Be careful as you walk through the garden as thorny bits from the plant are all over the trail. If you accidentally step on one it will be a nightmare to detach from your shoe!

2. Admire the Sunset at Keys View

joshua tree things to do - sunset at key views
Sunset at Key Views

Watching the sunset at Keys View is one of the best things you can do at Joshua Tree National Park.

Perched atop the Little San Bernardino Mountains, the Keys View scenic point overlooks Coachella Valley, through which the San Andreas Fault stretches. The view is unreal and seeing the sunset from this viewpoint is a one of a kind experience.

Make sure you give yourself enough time to drive to the view point as it takes 20 minutes just to drive from Park Boulevard down Keys View Road. You don’t want to miss the sunset and the photo op!!

Wanderer Tips:

  1. Bring a jacket and perhaps a cup of hot coffee as it can be pretty could up on the mountain
  2. Download the app Magic Hour to keep track of when sunset is so you can time your travels there

3. Hike to Arch Rock

If you thought Joshua Tree was just a park filled with a bunch of rocks, you are partially correct. Most hikes you go on will have a rocky terrain, and it almost has that Jurassic Park vibe to it. I recommend visiting Arch Rock as it will not only give you a good feel for Joshua Tree National Park’s rocky terrain, it is also where one of the most famous rocks – Arch Rock – is.

You can get to Arch Rock either from Twin Tanks Trailhead or by staying at White Tank Campground. We got there through Twin Tanks Trailhead and it was a nice and easy 1.3-mile stroll (with some easy rock climbing).

4. Hike the Cottonwood Spring Trail

cottonwood spring trail joshua tree
Cottonwood Spring Trail

Another quick and easy hike, Cottonwood Spring Trail is just 1 mile and offers a slightly different view of the national park. It’s filled with cottonwood trees and makes for a desert oasis (with shade!) This is also a great option for day hikes in case you ever decide to come just for a day.

5. Experience the Wild West at Pappy & Harriet’s

pappy and harriet's joshua tree
Pappy & Harriet’s Joshua Tree

If you’ve ever dreamed of experiencing the Netflix hit TV show West World, Pappy & Harriet’s brings you pretty close to that wild west life.

The American / Tex-Mex restaurant is located at the Northwest entrance of the park in Pioneertown. When you get there, you’ll notice a large and bustling restaurant. You’ll have arrived at Pappy & Harriet’s.

I ordered the quesadillas and was very happy with my choice. It’s a super satisfying meal after a morning of hiking.

6. Grab a Light Lunch at Natural Sister’s Cafe

The Natural Sister’s Cafe has healthy food that’s actually tasty! It reminds me of cafes in LA.

My friends and I all ordered the Black Bean Burger, and we all gave it a five out of five. Since we ordered the same thing, I can’t tell you much else about the rest of the menu, but I’m sure they’re equally delicious!! The juices were also really good.

7. Have a Sit Down Lunch at La Copine

la copine joshua tree
Crispy Blackened Chicken, Ceviche

If you’re looking for a fancier place to sit down and eat, look no further than La Copine. Their Crispy Blackened Chicken was amazing, and I also liked their ceviche dish. They seem to change up their menu from time to time, so check their website or yelp page for the latest.

Joshua Tree is a magical place with delicious food, lots of nature, and well-decorated accommodations. It’s the perfect place for a girls weekend getaway near LA but can easily be turned into a romantic getaway for couples or a casual outdoor weekend for families.

Read on for some additional tips on visiting Joshua Tree including the best time to visit and how to get there. Or you can pin this post and refer back to it later!

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things to do joshua tree

More Things to Know About Visiting Joshua Tree

things to do joshua tree national park

Best Time to Visit Joshua Tree

The best time to visit Joshua Tree is in the Spring or Fall. My friends and I went in March, and it felt like a comfortable 60 degrees during our hikes. The weather can be pretty drastic in the desert, so be sure you layer up.

How to Get There

If you’re visiting from LA, the drive from downtown LA to Joshua Tree is just over 2 hours. If you’re flying in from elsewhere, Palm Springs Airport (PSP) is the closest, but when I checked prices, it was also the most expensive to fly into from San Francisco (SFO).

You can also fly into Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR) or Los Angeles Airport (LAX). I recommend flying into Burbank airport if that’s an option for you as it’s less crowded and easier to get out of. LAX can be crazy busy!

Where to Stay in Joshua Tree

It takes about 2-3 hours to get from East LA to Joshua Tree National Park, and it could take another 2 hours to drive from one side of the national park to the other. So where do you stay to make sure you aren’t spending most of your trip in a car? I recommend Twentynine Palms or Joshua Tree.

I traveled with 5 other girls and we stayed at a super chic Airbnb in Twentynine Palms and it was perfect. There are so many cute Airbnbs in Joshua Tree that it really is the perfect place for a weekend getaway.

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